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Dr. Lothar Rendulic
23 October 1887|
Wiener Neustadt, Lower Austria, Austria-Hungary now Austria
|Died||17 January 1971
Fraham near Eferding, Upper Austria, Austria
|Allegiance|| Austria-Hungary (to 1918)
First Austrian Republic (to 1938)
|Service/branch|| Austro-Hungarian Army
|Years of service||1910–38 (Austria)
|Commands held||14. Infanterie-Division
World War II
|Awards||Ritterkreuz mit Eichenlaub und Schwertern|
Lothar Rendulic (23 October 1887 – 17 January 1971) 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.
Early life and career
Rendulic was born in Wiener Neustadt, Austria, to a Croatian family (the Croatian spelling of the surname is Rendulić). His father Lukas Rendulic was a colonel in the Austro-Hungarian army. Rendulic studied law and political science at universities in Vienna and Lausanne; in 1907, he was admitted to the Theresian Military Academy. In August 1910, Rendulic was commissioned a lieutenant in the Austro-Hungarian Army. He served during World War I from 1914 to 1918. In 1916 Rendulic married Nella Zöbl.
Following the war, Rendulic studied law at the University of Vienna and in 1920 received his doctorate in law (a Dr. iur. in German). He joined the newly formed Austrian Armed Forces 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, with an office in Paris. In 1936 he was put on the temporary inactive list because of his early membership in the Nazi Party, which was considered unbecoming for an Austrian officer and diplomat.
World War II
Rendulic was called to the German Army, the Wehrmacht, in 1938, after the annexation of Austria to Germany. He served as acting general officer in command of the 14th Infantry Division (23 June – 10 October 1940), general in command of the 52nd Division (1940–1942), and general in command of the XXXV Corps (1942–1943). He participated as the XXXV corps commander in the battle of Kursk.
From 1943 to 1944, Rendulic commanded the 2nd Panzer Army during World War II in Yugoslavia. Early in 1944, the German Chancellor 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 but ultimately failed to capture him, suffering heavy casualties.
Finland and Norway
Following the death of General Dietl in June 1944, Rendulic commanded the 20th Mountain Army and all German troops stationed in Finland and Norway. Following the war, Rendulic was accused of ordering the destruction of the Finnish town of Rovaniemi in October 1944, allegedly as revenge against the Finns for making a separate peace with the Soviet Union.
In 1945, Rendulic served as the commander-in-chief of Army Group Kurland (Army Group Courland) on the Eastern Front. By that time, the army group had been cut off in the Courland Pocket. Shortly thereafter, Rendulic served briefly as commander-in-chief of Army Group North, then located in northern Germany. He then returned to commanding Army Group Courland, and finally commanded Army Group South, soon renamed Army Group Ostmark, in Austria and Czechoslovakia.
War crimes trial
After his surrender, Lothar Rendulic was interned and tried in the Hostages Trial at Nuremberg, because of his involvement in the Wehrmacht's reprisals against civilians in Yugoslavia and the scorched earth policy in Lapland. On 19 February 1948 he was found guilty of war crimes 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.
Summary of military career
Dates of rank
- k.u.k Leutnant : 8 August 1910
- k.u.k Oberleutnant : 8 April 1914
- k.u.k Hauptmann : 1 May 1917
- Major (Austrian Army) : 1925
- Oberstleutnant (Austrian Army) : 1929
- Oberst (Austrian Army) : 1933
- Oberst (German Army) : 1 April 1938
- Generalmajor : 1 December 1939
- Generalleutnant : 1 December 1942
- General der Infanterie : 1 December 1942
- Generaloberst : 1 April 1944
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- Wound Medal with one stripe
- Karl Troop Cross, 3rd Class with War Decoration and Swords
- Order of the Iron Crown, 3rd class
- Military Merit Medal, in bronze and silver on the Ribbon of the Bravery Medal with Swords
- Military Merit Cross, 3rd class on the Ribbon of the Bravery Medal with war decoration and Swords
- 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
- 271st Oak Leaves on 15 August 1943 as General der Infanterie and commanding general of the XXXV. Armeekorps
- 122nd Swords on 18 January 1945 as Generaloberst and commander-in-chief of the 20. Gebirgsarmee
- Iron Cross (1939)
- German Cross in Gold on 26 December 1941 as Generalmajor and commander of the 52. Infanterie-Division
- Eastern Front Medal (1942)
- The Honour Cross of the World War 1914/1918
- Cuff title Kurland (1945)
- Lappland Shield (1945)
- Wound Badge in Black
- Golden Party Badge (19 September 1944)
- Mentioned four times in the Wehrmachtbericht (6 June 1944, 28 December 1944, 14 March 1945 and 9 May 1945)
- Gekämpft, gesiegt, geschlagen. (Fought, victorious, vanquished) Welsermühl Verlag, Wels and Heidelberg, 1952. 384 p.
- Glasenbach - Nürnberg - Landsberg. Ein Soldatenschicksal nach dem Krieg (A soldier's fate after the war), Leopold Stocker Verlag, Graz, 1953. 222 p.
- Die unheimlichen Waffen : Atomraketen über uns. Lenkwaffen, Raketengeschosse, Atombomben (Monstrous weapons: atomic rockets over us. Guided weapons, rockets, atom bombs) 1957
- 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.
- Soldat in stürzenden Reichen. (Soldier in falling empires) Damm Verlag, Munich 1965. 483 p.
- Grundlagen militärischer Führung, 1967
- Aus dem Abgrund in die Gegenwart. (From the abyss to the present) Verlag Ernst Ploetz, Wolfsberg, 1969. 259 p.
- Lothar Rendulić (1965): Soldat in stürzenden Reichen. Munich: Damm, p. 73 and 292. His birth date is sometimes erroneously mentioned as 23 November 1887.
- 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.
- 71st Division Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop find the German Army Group South
- Scherzer 2007, p. 623.
- Fellgiebel 2000, p. 355.
- Von Seemen 1976, p. 279.
- Fellgiebel 2000, p. 71.
- Von Seemen 1976, p. 36.
- Fellgiebel 2000, p. 47.
- Von Seemen 1976, p. 19.
- Thomas 1998, p. 196.
- Patzwall & Scherzer 2001, p. 374.
- Patzwall 2004, p. 13.
- 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 Wehrmachtteile [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.
- Patzwall, Klaus D. (2004). Das Goldene Parteiabzeichen und seine Verleihungen ehrenhalber 1934–1944—Studien der Geschichte der Auszeichnungen. Band 4 [The Golden Party Badge and its Honorary Presentations 1934–1944—Studies of the History of the Awards Volume 4] (in German). Norderstedt, Germany: Verlag Klaus D. Patzwall. ISBN 978-3-931533-50-2.
- 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.
- Von Seemen, Gerhard (1976). Die Ritterkreuzträger 1939–1945 : die Ritterkreuzträger sämtlicher Wehrmachtteile, Brillanten-, Schwerter- und Eichenlaubträger in der Reihenfolge der Verleihung : Anhang mit Verleihungsbestimmungen und weiteren Angaben [The Knight's Cross Bearers 1939–1945 : The Knight's Cross Bearers of All the Armed Services, Diamonds, Swords and Oak Leaves Bearers in the Order of Presentation: Appendix with Further Information and Presentation Requirements] (in German). Friedberg, Germany: Podzun-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7909-0051-4.
- 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.
Generalleutnant Peter Weyer
|Commander of 14. Infanterie-Division
15 June 1940 – 6 October 1940
Generalleutnant Friedrich Fürst
Generaloberst Hans-Jürgen von Arnim
|Commander of 52. Infanterie-Division
10 October 1940 – 1 November 1942
Generalleutnant Rudolf Peschel
General der Artillerie Rudolf Kämpfe
|Commander of XXXV Armeekorps
1 November 1942 – 15 April 1943
General der Infanterie Friedrich Wiese
Generalfeldmarschall Walter Model
|Commander of 2. Panzer-Armee
14 August 1943 – 24 June 1944
General der Infanterie Franz Böhme
Generaloberst Eduard Dietl
|Commander of 20. Gebirgs-Armee
25 June 1944 – 15 January 1945
General der Gebirgstruppen Franz Böhme
|Commander of Heeresgruppe Kurland
15 January 1945 – 27 January 1945
Generaloberst Heinrich von Vietinghoff
Generalfeldmarschall Ferdinand Schörner
|Commander of Heeresgruppe Nord
27 January 1945 – 12 March 1945
Generaloberst Walter Weiß
Generaloberst Heinrich von Vietinghoff
|Commander of Heeresgruppe Kurland
12 March 1945 – 5 April 1945
General Carl Hilpert
General der Infanterie Otto Wöhler
|Commander of Heeresgruppe Süd
6 April 1945 – 30 April 1945
Command renamed Heeresgruppe Ostmark 30 April 1945
|Commander of Heeresgruppe Ostmark
30 April 1945 – 7 May 1945
dissolved on 8 May 1945