I understand that the Germans, before the Allies (the Americans, Russians, English and possibly the French) signed the documents and then were very curtly instructed to leave the room after which the Allies celebrated. That the Germans would be part of the festivities seems unlikely (although I think I read that even the Germans were offered champagne and caviar) and indeed Keitel would soon be tried and executed. I wonder if in general, in all such ceremonies, the defeated were instructed to leave after signing. A related question is, were only Germans signing the documents? If so, was this because they had lost all European military alliances at this point and of course the Japanese were still holding out thousands of miles away.

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    What Germany signed there was an unconditional surrender. In a way, there was nothing for the Allies to countersign, as they made no promises whatsoever in those documents. However, FWIW, the documents were countersigned ("...in the presence of...")
    – DevSolar
    Commented Aug 9, 2017 at 6:54

1 Answer 1


Each Axis power signed their own surrender documents. No doubt the protocol for each such meeting was different, with similarities (we're talking military operations here, there's bound to be a guide book on how to arrange such things somewhere in the military manuals of most nations).

What happened to the signing parties would depend heavily on the terms of surrender. The Italians surrendered to the allies for example after they themselves overthrew Mussolini, which would have influenced the attitude of the present allied dignitaries towards them. The Japanese effectively did something similar, the emperor pretty much firing his war cabinet and reducing his status to a far more ceremonial monarch.

I don't think any of them would be happy to take part in a victory party with their (now former) enemies and conquerors. I know I probably wouldn't be (except maybe in case of the Italians, who may well have sent people who had been in opposition to the Mussolini regime).

  • As I mentioned, I believe the Germans were explicitly excluded by the Allies after the signing. I also wonder, come to think of it, whether the Allies wanted to signatures of men whom they did not intend to execute although these may be separate issues.
    – Jeff
    Commented Aug 9, 2017 at 6:11
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    @Jeff: They wanted the assent of the defeated. It's like a teacher asking a student to confess, "I've been a bad boy" before he is punished.
    – Tom Au
    Commented Aug 9, 2017 at 23:23
  • @TomAu Okay, that is why they did it -- not merely symbolic since stray commanders need to know that it is official. But once it was done, interesting to know what happened to those who surrendered. I think one thing is, even though they were told to leave the room, they were not (or were they) immediately imprisoned?
    – Jeff
    Commented Aug 10, 2017 at 0:09
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    @Jeff: My understanding is they were "guarded" For instance, General Tojo was under house arrest until he was summoned to trial. There were formalities to be observed, even under those circumstances.
    – Tom Au
    Commented Aug 10, 2017 at 0:11
  • @Jeff many were placed under guard, either house arrest or in specially assigned facilities (e.g. in the UK there was a castle set aside to house captured German generals from as early as 1942). They weren't generally shoved into regular POW camps. They were much too valuable for the information they had, as well as as propaganda items.
    – jwenting
    Commented Aug 10, 2017 at 6:19

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