Lothar Rendulic

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Dr. Lothar Rendulic
Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1995-027-32A, Lothar Rendulic.jpg
Lothar Rendulic signature.svg
Dr. Lothar Rendulic
Born (1887-10-23)23 October 1887
Wiener Neustadt, Austria
Died 17 January 1971(1971-01-17) (aged 83)
Fraham near Eferding, Austria
Allegiance Austria-Hungary Austria-Hungary (to 1918)
Austria First Austrian Republic (to 1938)
Nazi Germany Nazi Germany
Service/branch Austrian Army
Heer
Years of service 1910–1938 (Austria)
1938–1945 (Germany)
Rank Oberst (Austria)
Generaloberst (Germany)
Commands held 14. Infanterie-Division
52. Infanterie-Division
XXXV. Armeekorps
2. Panzer-Armee
20. Gebirgs-Armee
Heeresgruppe Kurland
Heeresgruppe Süd
Heeresgruppe Nord
Heeresgruppe Ostmark
Battles/wars World War I
World War II
Awards Ritterkreuz mit Eichenlaub und Schwertern

Lothar Rendulic (23 October 1887 – 17 January 1971)[1][2] was an army group commander in the German Army during World War II. Rendulic was one of three Austrians who rose to the rank of Generaloberst (senior general) in the Wehrmacht.

He was tried at Nuremberg in 1948 and, though acquitted of deliberate scorched earth tactics during the withdrawal through Lapland, was convicted of killing hostages in Yugoslavia and imprisoned. After his release in 1951 he took up writing.

Biography[edit]

Early years[edit]

Rendulic was born in Wiener Neustadt, Austria, to a Croatian family (the Croatian spelling of the surname is Rendulić). His father Lukas was a colonel in the Austro-Hungarian army. Following his Abitur, Lothar studied law and political science at universities in Vienna and Lausanne; in 1907, he was admitted to the Theresianische Militärakademie (later renamed the Kriegsschule Wiener Neustadt) in his home town, Wiener Neustadt. In August 1910, Rendulic was commissioned a lieutenant in the Austro-Hungarian Army and assigned to the 99. Infanterieregiment Georg I., König der Hellenen, in Vienna. He remained with this regiment during the first year of World War I before being posted to the 31.Infanterie-Division in 1915 and to XXI.Korps in 1918.

Following World War I, Rendulic studied law at the University of Vienna and in 1920 was awarded his doctorate in law (a Dr. iur. in German). He also joined the newly formed army of the Austrian republic and in 1932 joined the banned Austrian Nazi Party. From 1934, Rendulic served in the diplomatic corps as a military attaché to France and United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland with an office in Paris. However, his promising military and diplomatic career faltered in 1936, when he was put on the temporary inactive list because his early membership in the Nazi Party was considered undesirable for an Austrian officer and diplomat.

World War II[edit]

Rendulic was called to the German Army, the Wehrmacht, in 1938, after the annexation of Austria to Germany. By 1940, Rendulic was serving as the acting general officer in command of the 14. Infanterie-Division (23.6.40 - 10.10.40). From 1940 to 1942, he was the general commanding the 52nd Division. From 1942 to 1943, he was the general in command of the XXXV Corps. But, by 1943, Lothar Rendulic was being held in reserve.

Yugoslavia[edit]

From 1943 to 1944, Rendulic served as the general commanding the 2nd Panzer Army during World War II in Yugoslavia. Early in 1944, the Führer Adolf Hitler ordered Rendulic to devise a plan to capture Yugoslav partisan leader Josip Broz Tito. In the resultant raid on Drvar on 25 May 1944, German paratroopers stormed partisan headquarters in Drvar (western Bosnia) looking for Tito and very nearly captured him.

Finland and Norway[edit]

Following the death of General Dietl in June 1944, Rendulic served as the general commanding the 20th Mountain Army as well as the commander of German troops stationed in Finland and Norway. It is oft-stated that Rendulic in October 1944 ordered the Finnish town of Rovaniemi to be burned in revenge against the Finns for having concluded a separate peace with the Soviet Union. Rendulic actually ordered Rovaniemi’s public buildings destroyed while Finnish private property was to be spared. While the German rear guard was going about the destruction, an ammunition train in Rovaniemi station exploded and set fire to the wooden houses of the town. The German troops suffered many casualties, mainly from glass splinters. Ironically, a Finnish commando unit claimed to have blown up the ammunition train and may well have been the primary cause of the town's ruin. The cause was then unknown and generally assumed to be the deliberate intent of Rendulic.

Eastern Front[edit]

In 1945, Rendulic served as the commander-in-chief of Heeresgruppe Kurland (Army Group Courland) on the Eastern Front. By this time, the Army Group was completely cut off in the Courland Pocket. Shortly thereafter, Rendulic served briefly as commander-in-chief of Heeresgruppe Nord (Army Group North, then located in northern Germany), returned to commanding Army Group Courland (fighting in what was left of Latvia), and finally commanded Heeresgruppe Sud (Army Group South, soon renamed Heeresgruppe Ostmark, in Austria and Czechoslovakia).

On 7 May 1945, during the Prague Offensive, Lothar Rendulic, its commander-in-chief, surrendered Army Group Ostmark to the elements of the U.S. Army in Austria.

Imprisonment and death[edit]

After his surrender, Lothar Rendulic was interned and tried as a military criminal in the "hostages trial" at Nuremberg, because of his involvement in the Wehrmacht's attacks on civilians in Yugoslavia and the scorched earth policy in Lapland. On 19 February 1948 he was found guilty and sentenced to twenty years in prison, although he was cleared of charges concerning the scorching of Lapland. This sentence was later reduced to ten years, and on 1 February 1951 Rendulic was released from the military prison in Landsberg am Lech in Bavaria.

After his release, he worked as an author and was involved in local politics in Seewalchen am Attersee, in the Salzkammergut region of Austria. He died at Fraham near Eferding, Austria, on 17 January 1971.

Personal life[edit]

On 4 September 1916 Rendulic married Nella Zöbl.

Summary of his military career[edit]

Dates of rank[edit]

Notable decorations[edit]

Award Date of award Decoration
Wound Medal with one stripe unknown  Austria-Hungary
Karl Troop Cross, 3rd Class with War Decoration and Swords unknown  Austria-Hungary
Order of the Iron Crown, 3rd class unknown  Austria-Hungary
Military Merit Medal, in bronze and silver on the Ribbon of the Bravery Medal with Swords unknown  Austria-Hungary
Military Merit Cross, 3rd class on the Ribbon of the Bravery Medal with war decoration and Swords unknown  Austria-Hungary
Iron Cross (1914), 1st and 2nd class unknown  German Empire
Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords Knight's Cross on 6 March 1942 as Generalleutnant and commander of the 52. Infanterie-Division[3]
271st Oak Leaves on 15 August 1943 as General der Infanterie and commanding general of the XXXV. Armeekorps[3]
122nd Swords on 18 January 1945 as Generaloberst and commander in chief of the 20. Gebirgsarmee[3]
 Nazi Germany
Iron Cross (1939) Second Class on 20 September 1939[4]
First Class on 10 October 1939[4]
 Nazi Germany
German Cross in Gold 26 December 1941 as Generalmajor and commander of the 52. Infanterie-Division[5]  Nazi Germany
Eastern Front Medal 1942  Nazi Germany
The Honour Cross of the World War 1914/1918 unknown  Nazi Germany
Cuff title Kurland 1945  Nazi Germany
Lappland Shield 1945  Nazi Germany
Wound Badge in Black unknown  Nazi Germany
Golden Party Badge 19 September 1944  Nazi Germany
Mentioned four times in the Wehrmachtbericht 6 June 1944, 28 December 1944, 14 March 1945 and 9 May 1945  Nazi Germany

Books by Lothar Rendulic[edit]

  • Rendulic, L: Gekämpft, gesiegt, geschlagen. (Fought, victorious, vanquished) Welsermühl Verlag, Wels and Heidelberg, 1952. 384 p.
  • Rendulic, L: Glasenbach - Nürnberg - Landsberg. Ein Soldatenschicksal nach dem Krieg (A soldier's fate after the war), Leopold Stocker Verlag, Graz, 1953. 222 p.
  • Rendulic, L.: Die unheimlichen Waffen : Atomraketen über uns. Lenkwaffen, Raketengeschosse, Atombomben (Monstrous weapons: atomic rockets over us. Guided weapons, rockets, atom bombs) 1957
  • Rendulic, L: Weder Krieg noch Frieden. Eine Frage an die Macht. (Neither war nor peace. A question to the powers) Welsermühl Verlag, Munich and Wels, 1961. 250 p.
  • Rendulic, L: Soldat in stürzenden Reichen. (Soldier in falling empires) Damm Verlag, Munich 1965. 483 p.
  • Rendulic, L.: Grundlagen militärischer Führung, 1967
  • Rendulic, L: Aus dem Abgrund in die Gegenwart. (From the abyss to the present) Verlag Ernst Ploetz, Wolfsberg, 1969. 259 p.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Citations
  1. ^ Lothar Rendulić (1965): Soldat in stürzenden Reichen. Munich: Damm, p. 73 and 292. His birth date is sometimes erroneously mentioned as 23 November 1971.
  2. ^ Rudolf Neck, Adam Wandruszka, Isabella Ackerl (ed.) (1980): Protokolle des Ministerrates der Ersten Republik, 1918–1938, Abteilung VIII, 20. Mai 1932 bis 25. Juli 1934. Vienna: Verlag der Österreichischen Staatsdruckerei, p. 649.
  3. ^ a b c Scherzer 2007, p. 623.
  4. ^ a b Thomas 1998, p. 196.
  5. ^ Patzwall and Scherzer 2001, p. 374.
Bibliography
  • Berger, Florian (1999). Mit Eichenlaub und Schwertern. Die höchstdekorierten Soldaten des Zweiten Weltkrieges [With Oak Leaves and Swords. The Highest Decorated Soldiers of the Second World War] (in German). Vienna, Austria: Selbstverlag Florian Berger. ISBN 978-3-9501307-0-6. 
  • Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000). Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939–1945 – Die Inhaber der höchsten Auszeichnung des Zweiten Weltkrieges aller Wehrmachtsteile [The Bearers of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939–1945 — The Owners of the Highest Award of the Second World War of all Wehrmacht Branches] (in German). Friedberg, Germany: Podzun-Pallas. ISBN 978-3-7909-0284-6. 
  • Patzwall, Klaus D.; Scherzer, Veit (2001). Das Deutsche Kreuz 1941 – 1945 Geschichte und Inhaber Band II [The German Cross 1941 – 1945 History and Recipients Volume 2] (in German). Norderstedt, Germany: Verlag Klaus D. Patzwall. ISBN 978-3-931533-45-8. 
  • Schaulen, Fritjof (2005). Eichenlaubträger 1940 – 1945 Zeitgeschichte in Farbe III Radusch – Zwernemann [Oak Leaves Bearers 1940 – 1945 Contemporary History in Color III Radusch – Zwernemann] (in German). Selent, Germany: Pour le Mérite. ISBN 978-3-932381-22-5. 
  • Scherzer, Veit (2007). Die Ritterkreuzträger 1939–1945 Die Inhaber des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939 von Heer, Luftwaffe, Kriegsmarine, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm sowie mit Deutschland verbündeter Streitkräfte nach den Unterlagen des Bundesarchives [The Knight's Cross Bearers 1939–1945 The Holders of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939 by Army, Air Force, Navy, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm and Allied Forces with Germany According to the Documents of the Federal Archives] (in German). Jena, Germany: Scherzers Miltaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2. 
  • Thomas, Franz (1998). Die Eichenlaubträger 1939–1945 Band 2: L–Z [The Oak Leaves Bearers 1939–1945 Volume 2: L–Z] (in German). Osnabrück, Germany: Biblio-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7648-2300-9. 

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
Generalleutnant Peter Weyer
Commander of 14. Infanterie-Division
15 June 1940 - 6 October 1940
Succeeded by
Generalleutnant Friedrich Fürst
Preceded by
Generaloberst Hans-Jürgen von Arnim
Commander of 52. Infanterie-Division
10 October 1940 - 1 November 1942
Succeeded by
Generalleutnant Rudolf Peschel
Preceded by
General der Artillerie Rudolf Kämpfe
Commander of XXXV Armeekorps
1 November 1942 - 15 April 1943
Succeeded by
General der Infanterie Friedrich Wiese
Preceded by
Generalfeldmarschall Walter Model
Commander of 2. Panzer-Armee
14 August 1943 - 24 June 1944
Succeeded by
General der Infanterie Franz Böhme
Preceded by
Generaloberst Eduard Dietl
Commander of 20. Gebirgs-Armee
25 June 1944 - 15 January 1945
Succeeded by
General der Gebirgstruppen Franz Böhme
Preceded by
none
Commander of Heeresgruppe Kurland
15 January 1945 - 27 January 1945
Succeeded by
Generaloberst Heinrich von Vietinghoff
Preceded by
Generalfeldmarschall Ferdinand Schörner
Commander of Heeresgruppe Nord
27 January 1945 - 12 March 1945
Succeeded by
Generaloberst Walter Weiß
Preceded by
Generaloberst Heinrich von Vietinghoff
Commander of Heeresgruppe Kurland
12 March 1945 - 5 April 1945
Succeeded by
General Carl Hilpert
Preceded by
General der Infanterie Otto Wöhler
Commander of Heeresgruppe Süd
6 April 1945 - 30 April 1945
Succeeded by
Command renamed Heeresgruppe Ostmark 30 April 1945
Preceded by
none
Commander of Heeresgruppe Ostmark
30 April 1945 - 7 May 1945
Succeeded by
dissolved on 8 May 1945