The German Surrender of 1945

Richard Bessel

in How Fighting Ends

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780199693627
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191741258 | DOI:
The German Surrender of 1945

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This chapter discusses how in 1945 Nazi Germany did not surrender when defeat became likely, or even when it became inevitable, but fought literally to the bitter end. Nazi ideology, allegiance to Hitler, guilt and fear of retribution, regime terror, and determination not to repeat what had happened in 1918 contributed to this hugely destructive outcome. However, surrender at local level did not occur uniformly: in some places there was dogged resistance to the end and the terror unleashed by the regime kept the population wedded to its strategy of self-destruction; in others German soldiers melted away, and German civilians hung out white sheets from their homes and tried to negotiate local surrenders when Allied soldiers approached. In the end, uncompromising Nazi ideology evaporated with the collapse of the Nazi regime, and the population finally embraced defeat and life after surrender.

Keywords: Nazi Germany; 1945; Wehrmacht; Hitler; Dönitz; terror; fear

Chapter.  6513 words. 

Subjects: International Relations

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