This, the unconditional surrender of the German Third Reich was signed in the early morning hours of Monday, May 7, 1945; the time on the documents is noted as 0241 hours, or 2:41 A.M. The scene was the war room at SHAEF (Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force), located in the Professional and Technical School at Reims, a historic city in northeastern France that had been almost completely leveled by the Germans during the war. Across the conference table, representatives of the four Allied Powers —France, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and the United States—faced the three German officers delegated by President Doenitz: Col. Gen. Alfred Jodl, who alone had been authorized to sign the surrender document; Gen. Adm. Hans Georg von Friedeburg, a chief negotiator; and Maj. Friedrich Wilhelm Oxenius, an aide to Jodl.
Lt. Gen. Walter Bedell Smith, SHAEF chief of staff, led the Allied delegation as the representative of General Eisenhower, who had refused to meet with the Germans until the surrender had been accomplished. Other American officers present were Maj. Gen. Harold R. Bull and Gen. Carl Spaatz. British observers were Adm. Sir Harold Burrough, Lt. Gen. Sir Fred Morgan (SHAEF deputy chief of staff), and Air Marshal J. M. Robb. Maj. Gen. Ivan Sousloparov, head of the Soviet mission to France, represented the Soviet High Command; he was accompanied by Lt. Ivan Chermiaev and Senior Lt. Col. Ivan Zenkovitch as interpreters. Representing the French chief of staff (Gen. Alphonse Pierre Juin) was Maj. Gen. Francois Sevez. The more than 44 hours between the signing of the Act of Military Surrender and the cease-fire to take place at 2301 hours, or 11:01 P.M., on May 8 represented a concession to the Germans by SHAEF, one that unintentionally allowed more German troops to be moved westward for surrender to American or British and Commonwealth forces rather than to those of the Soviet Union. Signers of the surrender document were Col. Gen. Alfred Jodl, on behalf of the German High Command; Lt. Gen. Walter Bedell Smith, representing General Eisenhower; Maj. Gen. Ivan Sousloparov, fulfilling the Big Three agreement that a Soviet representative would take part in any ceremony of total surrender; and Maj. Gen. Francois Sevez, signing as a witness for France. It is interesting to note that the signature of the French representative was made in the lower margin of the document. This appears to be the case both on the original, issued to the Supreme Allied Commander, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and on the American, British and Russian national copies. Eisenhower gave his copy to his adjutant from whose estate this extraordinary document was obtained. The National Archives verified this for their records. The American national copy is now preserved in the National Archives.
It has been verbally passed down that the Germans did not consider the French as an equal to the Americans, British and Russians (as they had defeated France)…..and thus insisted that their signature not appear, except in the margin.