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Original U.S. WWII Reims Capitulation German Surrender Commemorative Brass Ashtray

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Original Item: Only One Available. The German Instrument of Surrender was the legal document that affected the extinction of NSDAP Germany and ended World War II in Europe. The definitive text was signed in Karlshorst, Berlin, on the night of 8 May 1945 by representatives of the three armed services of the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (OKW) and the Allied Expeditionary Force together with the Supreme High Command of the Soviet Red Army, with further French and US representatives signing as witnesses. The signing took place 9 May 1945 at 21:20 local time.

An earlier version of the text had been signed in a ceremony in Reims in the early hours of 7 May 1945. In most of Europe, 8 May is celebrated as Victory in Europe Day; 9 May is celebrated as Victory Day in Russia, Belarus, Serbia and Israel.

There were three language versions of the surrender document – Russian, English and German – with the Russian and English versions proclaimed, in the text itself, as the only authoritative ones.

This is a lovely shell brass example of the surrender at Reims. This 5” x 4” ashtray features 4 cigarette/cigar resting “canals” and are located in all 4 corners. The text featured on the top and bottom edges no longer retains the original darkening but is still easily discernible:

7-5 REIMS 1945

The text featured in the “valley” or “bowl” of the ashtray features a beautiful relief of the famous image often captioned: “Unconditional Surrender of Germany Signed at Reims; Colonel General Gustaf Jodl, German Chief of Staff to Admiral Karl Doenitz, signed at 2:41 a.m. May 7, 1945, the document of unconditional surrender of Germany to the Allies in the war room at Forward German officers signed papers of surrender ending World War II. Headquarters of Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force at Reims, France. Under the instrument of surrender all German armed forces were bound to lay down their arms on all fronts. On General Jodl's left is Admiral Hans-Georg von Friedeburg of the German Navy, and on his right is Major Wilhelm Oxenius of the German General Staff. On the extreme left is Colonel Ivan Zenkovitch, aide to Major General of Artillery Ivan Susloparoff who signed the document on behalf of the Soviet High Command."

This is in lovely condition with beautiful patina. Comes ready to display!

Surrender Texts
Representatives of the United States, the Soviet Union and the United Kingdom, working through the European Advisory Commission throughout 1944, sought to prepare an agreed surrender text to be used in the potential circumstances of NSDAP power being overthrown within Germany either by military or civil authorities, and a post-NSDAP government then seeking an armistice. By 3 January 1944, the Working Security Committee in the EAC proposed:

That the capitulation of Germany should be recorded in a single document of unconditional surrender.

The committee further suggested that the instrument of surrender be signed by representatives of the German High Command. The considerations behind this recommendation were to prevent the repetition of the so-called stab-in-the-back myth, where extremists in Germany claimed that since the Armistice of 11 November 1918 had been signed only by civilians, the High Command of the Army carried no responsibility for the instrument of defeat or for the defeat itself.

Not everyone agreed with the Committee's predictions. Ambassador William Strang, 1st Baron Strang, British representative at the EAC, claimed:

It is impossible at present to foresee in what circumstances hostilities with Germany may in the end be suspended. We cannot tell, therefore, what mode of procedure would be most suitable; whether, for example, it will be found best to have a full and detailed armistice; or a shorter armistice conferring general powers; or possibly no armistice at all, but a series of local capitulations by enemy commanders.

The surrender terms for Germany were initially discussed at the first EAC meeting on 14 January 1944. A definitive three-part text was agreed on 28 July 1944 and adopted by the three Allied Powers.

The first part consisted of a brief preamble: "The German Government and German High Command, recognising and acknowledging the complete defeat of the German armed forces on land, at sea and in the air, hereby announce Germany's unconditional surrender".

The second part, articles 1–5, related to the military surrender by the German High Command of all forces on land, at sea and in the air, to the surrender of their weapons, to their evacuation from any territory outside German boundaries as they stood on 31 December 1937, and to their liability to captivity as prisoners of war.

The third part, articles 6 to 12, related to the surrender by the German government to Allied representatives of almost all its powers and authority, the release and repatriation of prisoners and forced laborers, the cessation of radio broadcasts, the provision of intelligence and information, the maintenance of weapons and infrastructure, the yielding of NSDAP leaders for war crimes trials, and the power of Allied Representatives to issue proclamations, orders, ordinances, and instructions covering "additional political, administrative, economic, financial, military and other requirements arising from the complete defeat of Germany". The key article in the third section was article 12, which provided that the German government and German High Command would comply fully with any proclamations, orders, ordinances and instructions of the accredited Allied representatives. This was understood by the Allies as allowing unlimited scope to impose arrangements for the restitution and reparation of damages. Articles 13 and 14 specified the date of surrender and the languages of the definitive texts.

The Yalta Conference in February 1945 led to a further development of the terms of surrender, as it was agreed that administration of post-war Germany would be split into four occupation zones for Britain, France, the United States and the Soviet Union. It was also agreed at Yalta that an additional clause "12a," would be added to the July 1944 surrender text. It stated that the Allied representatives "will take such steps, including the complete disarmament, demilitarization and dismemberment of Germany as they deem requisite for future peace and security." The Provisional Government of the French Republic, however, was not party to the Yalta agreement and refused to recognise it, which created a diplomatic problem as formal inclusion of the additional clause in the EAC text would inevitably create a French demand for equal representation in any dismemberment decisions. While this was unresolved, there were in effect two versions of the EAC text, one with the "dismemberment clause" and one without.

By the end of March 1945, the British government began to doubt whether, once Germany had been completely overpowered, there would be any post-NSDAP German civil authority capable of signing the instrument of surrender or of putting its provisions into effect. They proposed that the EAC text should be redrafted as a unilateral declaration of German defeat by the Allied Powers, and of their assumption of supreme authority following the total dissolution of the German state. It was in this form that the text agreed by the EAC was finally effected as the Declaration Regarding the Defeat of Germany.

Meanwhile, the Combined Chiefs of Staff of the Western Allies agreed in August 1944 to general guidelines for the terms of local military surrenders to be concluded with any capitulating German forces. They mandated that capitulation had to be unconditional and restricted to the purely military aspects of a local surrender, that no commitments were to be given to the enemy, and that surrender was to be without prejudice to any subsequent general instrument of surrender which might replace any document of partial surrender and which would be jointly imposed on Germany by the three primary Allied Powers. These guidelines formed the basis for the series of partial capitulations of German forces to the Western Allies in April and May 1945.

As the German surrender actually happened, the EAC text was substituted by a simplified, military-only version based on the wording of the partial surrender instrument of German forces in Italy signed at the surrender of Caserta. The reasons for the change are disputed but may have reflected awareness of the reservations being expressed as to the capability of the German signatories to agree the provisions of the full text or the continued uncertainty over communicating the "dismemberment clause" to the French.

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