Rendulic, Lothar, born 23-10-1887, in Wiener Neustadt, Austria, to a Croatian family. 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 Theresianischen 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 99th Infanterie Regiment 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 31st Infanterie-Division in 1915 and to XXI.Korps under General Friedrich von Scholtz in 1918. Following World War I, Rendulic studied law at the University of Vienna and in 1920 was awarded his doctorate in law. 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 attache 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. 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 Infanterie-Division , commander Peter Weyer until 10-10-1940, General in command of the 52nd Division until 1942 and succeeded Generaloberst Hans Jürgen von Arnim. The 52nd Infantry Division served in southern Poland, close to Katowice and was primarily a training division. General in command of the XXXV Corps, succeeding General der Artillerie Rudolf Kämpfe , until 1943. On 21-07-1944 Kämpfe was arrested by the Gestapo. After the end of the war, Kaempfe was in Soviet captivity from 09-05-1945 to 30-09-1949. Kämpfe died age 79 on 23-12-1962 in Stuttgart. However, by 1943, Rendulic was being held in Führer Reserve. From 1943 to 1944, Rendulic served as the Commanding General of the 2nd Panzer Army in Yugoslavia, succeeding Generalfeldmarschall Walter Model. . Early in 1944, the Führer Adolf Hitler (did you know), ordered Rendulic, a cruel warrior of the worst kind with Croatian roots and a Hitler mustache
, to devise a plan to capture Yugoslav partisan leader Josip Broz Tito.
In the resultant raid on Drvar on 25-05-1944, German paratroopers stormed partisan headquarters in Drvar looking for Tito and very nearly captured him. Following the death of General Eduard Dietl in June 1944, Rendulic served as the Commanding General of the 20th Mountain Army as well as the Commander of German troops stationed in Finland and Norway. Rendulic assigned his command to the Austrian General Franz Friedrich Boehme.
Böhme stood trial in Nuremberg for having massacred thousands of Serbian civilians. He committed suicide in his prison in Nuremberg, on 29-05-1947, age 62. 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. 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 07-05-1945, during the Prague Offensive, Generaloberst Lothar Rendulic, its Commander-in-Chief, surrendered Army Group Ostmark in Rothschildschloss in Waidhofen an der Ybbs to the American 3rd US Army Group under command of Lieutenant General Robert “Pat” White. 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 against the troops of General Siilasvuo, Hjalmar Fridolf.
On 19-02-1948 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 01-02-1951 Rendulic was released from the military prison in Landsberg am Lech in Bavaria.
Death and burial ground of Rendulic, Lothar.
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 17-01-1971, age 83
and is buried with his wife Anna, born Hella, who died old age 93 in 1979, on the Pfarrfriedhof of Leonding in Austria, Section 5, where also are buried Hitler parents, but their gravestone is meanwhile removed.