In 1971 India invaded east Pakistan, which ended in the "public surrender" of the Pakistani military on the 16th of December, and modern day Bangladesh is the result. Many of the articles and videos that I've seen (particularly those written by the victors) repeat that this event was "the only public surrender in history".

Is the 1971-12-16 surrender by the Pakistani military the only public surrender in history?

I'm rather skeptical that no other military in history has demanded a surrender in front of the population. In fact, I'd expect that to be rather common over the past few thousand years, especially before mass communication. Or do I just have the wrong definition of what a public surrender is?

Here are some articles that claim it was the only public surrender:

It is the only public surrender in known history.

On December 16, the bulk of the occupying Pakistani force surrendered at Ramna Racecourse which is dubbed by the experts concerned as the “first and perhaps only public surrender in modern military history.”

This surrender is unique, the only public surrender in history where a ceasefire was converted into surrender and signed in four hours.

It's commonly claimed to be the only public surrender in history, which is what this question is concerned with, but I've included the last two articles that provide a couple caveats ("modern military history", or "ceasefire converted into surrender").

What is a public surrender?

In response to comments asking what is meant by a "public surrender", I do not know what exactly the authors mean by "public surrender". However for context, the signing of the instrument of surrender occurred in front of a crowd at the Ramna Race Course garden in Dhaka, according to Wikipedia's article.

Related: Is it true that 93000 Pakistan Army "soldiers" surrendered in 1971?

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    I think this should be closed unless the definition of "public" is included in the Notable Claim. Commented Feb 13, 2020 at 1:49
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    In addition to the "what does 'public' mean?" problem, I'm also unclear on who the belligerents have to be. E.g., does a city under siege surrendering count? (Nevertheless, I still think this is an interesting question.) Commented Feb 14, 2020 at 7:18
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    It's really unclear from this question how "public surrender" is defined. For example, would the Treaty of Versailles (end of World War I) count as a "public surrender"? If not, why? Wasn't it public enough? Or on the technicality that it wasn't called a surrender? Or on the technicality that the armstice of November 11th happened first and would be considered the "real" surrender of Germany? I hope to read a reply from the author of the question soon.
    – Philipp
    Commented Feb 14, 2020 at 12:34
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    May I suggest that asking on our History site may get better results? Commented Feb 14, 2020 at 20:26

1 Answer 1


The term Public Surrender is solely coined by India and Bangladesh. There is no agreed-upon definition of this terminology.

They are most probably using this term to describe the fact that 90,000+ Pakistani soldiers laid their weapons and their commander in chief Gen. Niazi signed the instrument of surrender (without obtaining the consent of the government of Pakistan) in front of the TV media (we don't see any civilians in the videos).

If that is the definition they are talking about, then that is obviously not the first public surrender in the history of mankind. For example, Japanese surrender of WW2 in 1945 was very well documented and photographed:

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Photo: Japanese surrender, Forbidden City, Peking, 10 October 1945

  • Thank you! The "public surrender" part was part of this question that was really getting stuck, so I'm going to accept this answer since you've taken a stab at defining it.
    – RToyo
    Commented Mar 30, 2020 at 21:27

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