German surrender at Lüneburg Heath

On 4 May 1945 at Lüneburg Heath, east of Hamburg, Field Marshal Sir Bernard Law Montgomery accepted the unconditional surrender of the German forces in the Netherlands, in northwest Germany including all islands, and in Denmark and all naval ships in those areas. The surrender preceded the end of World War II in Europe and was signed in a carpeted tent at Montgomery's headquarters on the Timeloberg hill at Wendisch Evern.

Lüneburg had been captured by the British forces on 18 April 1945 with Montgomery establishing his headquarters at a villa in the village of Häcklingen. A German delegation arrived at his tactical headquarters on the Timeloberg hill by car on 3 May, having been sent by Großadmiral Karl Dönitz who had been nominated President and Supreme Commander of the German armed forces by Adolf Hitler in his last will and testament on 29 April. Dönitz was aware of the allied occupation zones intended for Germany from a plan that had fallen into German hands. He therefore hoped that protracted partial and local surrender negotiations might buy time for troops and refugees in the east to seek refuge from the Red Army, whilst holding open a pocket to provide sanctuary on the west bank of the River Elbe.

Dönitz did not think it appropriate to negotiate personally with a field marshal as he had become the head of state following the death of Adolf Hitler. He therefore sent the delegation headed by the new Commander-in-Chief of the German navy Admiral Hans-Georg von Friedeburg. Montgomery refused an initial offer to surrender Army Group Vistula which was being cut off to the east by the Red Army and demanded the unconditional surrender of all forces on his northern and western flanks. The Germans stated that they did not have the authority to accept Montgomery's terms. However they agreed to return to their headquarters to obtain permission from Dönitz.

The German officers returned the next day at 18:00 with an additional delegate, (Colonel Fritz Poleck) representing the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht, (the German armed forces high command). Von Friedeburg was ushered into Montgomery's command caravan for confirmation that they were ready to sign. For the surrender ceremony Montgomery sat at the head of a table with an army blanket draped over it and two BBC microphones in front of him; he called on each delegate in turn to sign the instrument of surrender document at 18.30. The surrender ceremony was filmed by the British Pathé News and recorded for broadcast on radio by the BBC with a commentary by the Australian war correspondent Chester Wilmot.

In a report reprinted in The New York Times, CBS war correspondent Bill Downs described the surrender negotiations:

After lunch, Field Marshal Montgomery called the Germans back for further consultation, and there he delivered his ultimatum ... He told the Germans: "You must understand three things: Firstly, you must surrender to me unconditionally all the German forces in Holland, Friesen and the Frisian Islands and Heligoland and all other islands in Schleswig-Holstein and in Denmark. Secondly, when you have done that, I am prepared to discuss with you the implications of your surrender: how we will dispose of those surrendered troops, how we will occupy the surrendered territory, how we will deal with the civilians, and so forth. And my third point: If you do not agree to Point 1, the surrender, then I will go on with the war and I will be delighted to do so." Monty added, as an after-thought, "All your soldiers and civilians may be killed."

This page was last edited on 14 April 2018, at 05:06 (UTC).
Reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_surrender_at_L%C3%BCneburg_Heath under CC BY-SA license.

Related Topics

Recently Viewed