Alfred Jodl

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Alfred Josef Ferdinand Jodl (10 May 1890 – 16 October 1946) was a German military commander, attaining the position of Chief of the Operations Staff of the Armed Forces High Command (Oberkommando der Wehrmacht, or OKW) during World War II, acting as deputy to Wilhelm Keitel. At Nuremberg he was tried, sentenced to death and hanged as a war criminal.

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Early life

Jodl was born Alfred Josef Ferdinand Baumgärtler in Würzburg, Germany, the son of Officer Alfred Jodl and Therese Baumgärtler, becoming "Alfred Jodl" upon his parents' marriage in 1899. He was educated at Cadet School in Munich, from which he graduated in 1910.

After schooling, Jodl joined the army as an artillery officer. During World War I he served as a battery officer on the Western Front from 1914–1916, twice being wounded. In 1917 Jodl served briefly on the Eastern Front before returning to the west as a staff officer. After the war Jodl remained in the armed forces and joined the Versailles-limited Reichswehr.

Jodl had married Irma Gräfin von Bullion, a woman five years his senior from an aristocratic Swabian family, in September 1913. She died in Königsberg in the spring of 1944 of pneumonia contracted after major spinal surgery. The following November, Jodl married Luise von Benda, a close family friend.

World War II

Jodl's appointment as a major in the operations branch of the Truppenamt in the Army High Command in the last days of the Weimar Republic put him under command of General Ludwig Beck, who recognised Jodl as "a man with a future", although it was only on September 1939 that Jodl met with Adolf Hitler for the first time. In the build-up to World War II, Jodl was nominally assigned as a Artilleriekommandeur of the 44th Division from October 1938 to August 1939 during the Anschluss, but from then until the end of the war in May 1945 he was Chef des Wehrmachtsführungsstabes (Chief of Operation Staff OKW). Jodl acted as a Chief of Staff during the swift occupation of Denmark and Norway. During the campaign, Hitler interfered only when the German destroyer flotilla was demolished outside Narvik and wanted the German forces there to retreat into Sweden. Jodl successfully thwarted Hitler's orders. Jodl disagreed with Hitler for the second time during the summer offensive of 1942. Hitler dispatched Jodl to the Caucasus to visit Field-Marshal Wilhelm List to find out why the oil fields had not been captured. Jodl returned only to corroborate List's reports that the troops were at their last gasp.

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