Lothar Rendulic

Lothar Rendulic
Born (1887-10-23)23 October 1887
Died 17 January 1971(1971-01-17) (aged 83)
Allegiance Austria-Hungary Austria-Hungary
Austria First Austrian Republic
 Nazi Germany
Service/branch Austro-Hungarian Army
Austrian Army
Rank Oberst (Austria)
Generaloberst (Germany)
Commands held 2nd Panzer Army
20th Mountain Army
Army Group Courland
Army Group North
Army Group Ostmark
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross

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

Rendulic was tried at the Subsequent Nuremberg Trials in 1948. Though acquitted of deliberate scorched earth tactics during the Lapland war, he was convicted of killing hostages in Yugoslavia at the Hostages Trial and imprisoned. After his release in 1951 he took up writing.

Early life and career

Rendulic was born in 1887 in Austria into a military family. He studied law and political science at universities in Vienna and Lausanne; in 1907, he was admitted to the Theresian Military Academy and commissioned as an officer into the Austro-Hungarian Army in 1910. He served during World War I from 1914 to 1918. Returning to the University of Vienna, Rendulic obtained his doctorate in law in 1920. He joined the newly formed Austrian Armed Forces and in 1932 joined the banned Austrian Nazi Party. From 1934, Rendulic served as a military attaché to France and United Kingdom. In 1936 he was put on the "temporary inactive list" because of his early membership in the Nazi Party.

World War II

Rendulic was called to the German Army, the Wehrmacht, in 1938, after the annexation of Austria to Germany. He commanded the 14th Infantry Division (23 June – 10 October 1940); the 52nd Division (1940–1942); and the XXXV Corps (1942–1943), with which he participated 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.

From 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 Courland cut off in the Courland Pocket on the Eastern Front; Army Group North in Northern Germany; and Army Group Ostmark, in Austria and Czechoslovakia. On 7 May 1945, following the Soviet Prague Offensive, Lothar Rendulic surrendered Army Group Ostmark to the 71st Division of the U.S. Army in Austria.[3]

War crimes trial

Lothar Rendulic is sentenced in the Hostage Case USHMM No 16808

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.





  1. Lothar Rendulić (1965): Soldat in stürzenden Reichen. Munich: Damm, p. 73 and 292. His birth date is sometimes erroneously mentioned as 23 November 1887.
  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. 71st Division Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop find the German Army Group South
  4. 1 2 3 Scherzer 2007, p. 623.
  5. Thomas 1998, p. 196.
  6. Patzwall & Scherzer 2001, p. 374.
  7. Patzwall 2004, p. 13.


  • 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. 
  • 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. 
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
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
Commander of Heeresgruppe Ostmark
30 April 1945 – 7 May 1945
Succeeded by
dissolved on 8 May 1945
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