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:

  • sify.com: What happened before Pakistan's public surrender to India

    It is the only public surrender in known history.

  • Dhaka Tribune: Revisiting 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.”

  • rediff.com: How Pakistan surrendered in 1971

    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.

  • 2
    I am currently building a non-exhaustive list of "surrenders" starting with WW2 and working my way forward in time. Non-existence proofs are extremely difficult to deal with.
    – DenisS
    Feb 12, 2020 at 21:17
  • 4
    I think this should be closed unless the definition of "public" is included in the Notable Claim. Feb 13, 2020 at 1:49
  • 9
    Yes, Emperor Hirohito gave a recorded radio address on 15th August 1945, in which he announced the surrender of Japan to the Allies. It seems to me as though that was a public surrender, because the formal surrender was not signed until 2nd September, aboard the battleship USS Missouri. Feb 13, 2020 at 17:41
  • 3
    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.) Feb 14, 2020 at 7:18
  • 5
    I'm still working on a massive answer, but interestingly enough I cannot corroborate the "public surrender" of the war. The claims seem to originate from General Jacob, but the videos of the signing of the surrender document do not show a crowd at the surrender itself. Jacob claims that the Hamidur Rehman report supports his assertion, but it does not. No sources outside of Indian pieces quoting Jacob ever make the claim.
    – DenisS
    Feb 18, 2020 at 17:00

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:

enter image description here
Photo: Japanese surrender, Forbidden City, Peking, 10 October 1945

N.B. Indians and Bangladeshis mention this incident routinely in TV, news, and social media, but India was the first which lost a large portion of the landmass in favor of Pakistan namely Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir in 1947/48.

enter image description here

  • 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
    Mar 30, 2020 at 21:27

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