Back in December, when my dad visited and we went on our 2 week whirlwind WWII trip, one of the places we visited was Reims, France. Tina, over at Pecan Corner has been blogging about WWII and asked me to post about our trip to the War Rooms.
Dwight Eisenhower had his HQ at Reims and it was here on May 7, 1945 at 2:41 am that Germany signed an unconditional surrender. German General Alfred Jodl signed the document that effectively ended WWII. Interestingly, Eisenhower was not in the room at the time of the signing. When I asked my dad (who is basically a walking WWII history book) why, when he was the SHAEF (Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Forces) commander, he explained that because the Germans did not have a commander present who equaled Eisenhower in rank, it would have been considered a slap in the face to the Germans. I personally think this is a little silly, but I know what sticklers the military is when it comes to protocol. Still, I think it stinks that Eisenhower couldn't be there are the the moment. The allies who signed the document were General Walter Smith (US), Ivan Susloparov (Soviets) and General Francois Sevez (France). There were a total of 15 people around the table, including Generals, Colonels, and aides from England, the US, France, The Soviet Union and Germany and a host of others, there to witness, photograph and film this most important moment. The War Rooms have been preserved exactly as they were on that day and I'm so grateful to whomever made that decision, as it is an amazing and important piece of world history. Here are some of our photos:
These are the keys to the War Room.
My dad explaining something to me. Probably why Eisenhower wasn't at the signing.
Jodl signing the surrender.
This is the table where they signed. Each chair has a plaque with the name of the person who sat in it.
Photo of the signing.
This shows the number of captured enemy soldiers by the Allies. I find it interesting that they used the swastika.
The sheer number and size of maps in the room was impressive. The maps went all the way around the room.
Mr. HH and my dad.
My dad, me and Indy on the opposite side of the room from the signing table. Indy found all the maps fascinating.
BTW, it should be noted that Jodl was found guilty of war crimes at the Nuremberg trials and hanged in 1946. The two men on either side of him at the signing were Wilhelm Oxenius, who died in prison in 1948 and Hans-Georg von Friedeberg, who committed suicide just a few weeks after the signing.
I hope you enjoyed a peek at this piece of history. There was a lot more in the museum and if you ever make it to Reims, make sure to stop by. I know the champagne caves will be calling your name, but this is well worth the time.