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World War II: Eisenhower's Instructions In Preparation for Defeat of Germany

(March 31, 1945)

The following order, dated March 31, 1945, is issued at the order of the Supreme Commander, Allied Expeditionary Forces:

The Allied armies have crossed the Rhine and are driving ever more deeply into the very heart of Germany.

The German Government has ceased to exercise effective control over wide areas. The German High Command has lost effective control over many units, large and small, of the German forces.

In these circumstances, in order to avoid further unnecessary bloodshed and sacrifice of human life, the Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces has issued a series of instructions. Here are instructions to members of the Wehrmacht:

Soldiers of the German Wehrmacht! To save yourselves further useless sacrifice, and loss of life, this is what you must do:

(1) Units in contact which no longer receive orders from the German command are to cease hostilities. The units are to be assembled. Until further orders, the present commanding officer of each unit is responsible for the discipline of his men.

(2) Surrender of troop units takes place by sending an emissary to the nearest Allied command post, under the protection of a white flag. The surrender must take place in an orderly manner and with observance of military discipline.

(3) Units out of contact remain under the command of their officers until further orders. The units are to be assembled and commanding officers remain responsible for the discipline and supply of the troops under their command until further orders.

(4) Scattered units and individual Wehrmacht personnel report to the nearest Allied troop unit while observing the customary signs of surrender; i.e., unarmed and without helmet or web equipment. Collecting points are along the main highways and thoroughfares.

The following instructions were issued to foreign workers:

(1) Keep away now from all targets, factories, railroads, marshaling yards and bridges. Refuse to work in or near such danger spots, in which no one has the right to compel anyone to work.

(2) When Allied armies approach, seek out the safest spot you can find. Take refuge away from all military installations, away from factories and railroads. Keep off the roads, particularly main highroads.

(3) Stay in those refuges until the Allied armies arrive and finish mopping up the German units. Then report to Allied Military Government officials, who will put you in touch as soon as possible with your own liaison officer. Send a spokesman for a group.

(4) Many of your comrades in the areas liberated by the victorious Russian armies owe their freedom to the fact that they were able to put into practice instructions such as we have just given you. The same is true of the western front and this will increase as the momentum of our advance gathers way.

(5) The Supreme Commander knows your urgent and legitimate desire to return home as soon as possible. By following his instructions, you will speed up your return to your family.

Sources: ibiblio