Alexander Löhr

Last updated
Alexander Löhr
Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1969-041-30, Alexander Lohr.jpg
Löhr in 1939
Born(1885-05-20)20 May 1885
Turnu-Severin, Mehedinți, Kingdom of Romania
Died26 February 1947(1947-02-26) (aged 61)
Belgrade, FPR Yugoslavia
AllegianceFlag of Austria-Hungary (1869-1918).svg  Austria-Hungary (to 1918)
Flag of Austria.svg First Austrian Republic (to 1938)
Flag of Germany (1935-1945).svg  Nazi Germany
Service/branch Austro-Hungarian Army
Austrian Armed Forces
Austrian Air Force (1927–38)
German Luftwaffe (1938–45)
Years of service1906–45
Rank Generaloberst
Commands held Luftflotte 4
Army Group E
OB Südost
Battles/wars World War I

World War II

Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves
Signature Alexander Lohr signature.svg

Alexander Löhr (20 May 1885 – 26 February 1947) was an Austrian Air Force commander during the 1930s and, after the annexation of Austria, he was a Luftwaffe commander. Löhr served in the Luftwaffe during World War II, rising to commander of Army Group E and then to commander-in-chief in Southeast Europe (OB Südost).

Contents

Löhr was captured by Yugoslav Partisans at the end of the war in Europe. He was tried and convicted of war crimes by the Yugoslav government for anti-partisan reprisals committed under his command, and the bombing of Belgrade in 1941. He was executed by firing squad on 26 February 1947 In Belgrade, Yugoslavia.

Early life and career

Löhr was born on 20 May 1885 in Turnu-Severin in the Kingdom of Romania. He was the youngest child of Friedrich Johann Löhr and his wife Catherine, née Heimann. His father had served as a 2nd captain on a hospital ship in the Black Sea during the Russo-Turkish War. Here his father had met his mother, a Ukrainian nurse. She was the daughter of the military doctor Mihail Alexandrovich Heimann from Odessa. After the war, they married in 1879 and moved to Turnu-Severin in Romania. The marriage produced three sons. [1] Due to his mother's faith, he belonged to the Eastern Orthodox Church; he grew up speaking German, Russian, French and Romanian. Löhr attended a military secondary school in Kaschau, present-day Košice in Slovakia until 1900. [2]

Löhr transferred to the infantry cadet school at Temeswar, present-day Timișoara in Romania, in January 1900. [3] In 1903 he was posted to Vienna, where he attended the Theresian Military Academy in Burg Wiener Neustadt until 1906. [4] He graduated from the military academy on 18 August 1906, with an overall rating of "very good". On the same day Löhr was retired as a second lieutenant and immediately volunteered for active service. Löhr served as platoon commander of a pioneer battalion in the Imperial and Royal 85th Infantry Regiment of the Austro-Hungarian Army in World War I. [5] By 1921 Löhr had reached the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. Between 1921 and 1934 he held many staff positions in the military, including Director of the Air Force in the Federal Armies Ministry. In 1934, he was made Commander of the small Austrian Air Force, a position which he held until the annexation in 1938.

World War II

Warsaw burning, September 1939 Bundesarchiv Bild 183-L14673, Warschau, Luftaufnahme von Branden.jpg
Warsaw burning, September 1939

Löhr, who had been promoted to Major on 1 July 1920, was accepted into the newly created Austrian Armed Forces on 1 September 1920. [6] On 15 March 1938, Löhr was transferred to the Luftwaffe, where he became commander of Luftwaffe forces in Austria. By then he had been promoted to Generalleutnant . He was commander of Luftflotte 4 in the East from May 1939 until June 1942.

Luftflotte 4 carried out the bombing of Warsaw, Poland in September 1939 and of Belgrade, Yugoslavia in April 1941. Löhr had developed a plan to bomb Belgrade with incendiary bombs first, so that the fires would help the second, nighttime, attack to find the targets. [7] [8] This cost thousands of people their lives. Löhr was promoted to colonel general effective 3 May 1941. He commanded the 12th Army from 12 July 1942 through to December 1942.

Commander-in-Chief South East

Löhr succeeded General der Pioniere Walter Kuntze as Commander-in-Chief of the 12th Army on 3 July 1942. [9] He was appointed the Wehrmacht Commander in southeast Europe on 1 August 1942, and from 28 December 1942 this position was re-designated as Commander-in-chief in southeast Europe. [10] The forces under his command were also designated as Army Group E, and he was appointed as its commander. In this role, Löhr controlled all subordinate commands in southeast Europe, including the commanding general in Serbia (Paul Bader), the military commander in the Salonika-Aegean area, the military commander in southern Greece, the commander of Crete, the naval commander in the Aegean Sea, the German plenipotentiary general in the Independent State of Croatia, the commanding general of German troops in Croatia, and the military attaché in Sofia, Bulgaria. [11] Löhr organised the fourth and fifth offensives against Yugoslav Partisans in 1943, during which most of those taken prisoner, including the wounded, were murdered on the spot. [12] As Commander-in-Chief of Army Group E, Löhr oversaw the Dodecanese campaign. On 26 August 1944, with the Allies driving on Germany on three fronts, Hitler ordered Löhr to begin evacuating Army Group E from Greece and move north to defend the Fatherland.

At the end of the war in Europe, Löhr received orders for unconditional surrender, but instead directed his forces to break out towards Austria. According to the historian Jozo Tomasevich, Löhr was captured by the 14th Slovene Division in Slovenia on 9 May 1945, and attempted to negotiate passage for his troops to Austria. This was refused and Löhr was prevailed upon to issue orders to cease fighting, which the troops nonetheless disobeyed. He escaped, countermanded his order to surrender and continued with the breakout attempt. After an intense manhunt, Löhr was recaptured on 13 May. [12]

Conviction and execution

Löhr was imprisoned by Yugoslavia from 15 May 1945 to 26 February 1947. He was tried and convicted for war crimes committed during the anti-partisan operations of 1943, including the killing of hostages and burning of villages, and disregarding Germany's unconditional surrender. [13] He was executed by firing squad on 26 February 1947 in Belgrade. Also sentenced to death and executed by hanging were the SS commander August Schmidhuber and the high-ranking Wehrmacht officers Johann Fortner, Fritz Neidholdt  [ de ], Günther Tribukait, and others. [14]

Related Research Articles

Lothar Rendulic

Lothar Rendulic was an army group commander in the Wehrmacht during World War II. Rendulic was one of three Austrian Germans who rose to the rank of Generaloberst in the German armed forces. The other two were Alexander Löhr and Erhard Raus.

Operation Retribution (1941) German bombing of Belgrade, Yugoslavia during World War 2

Operation Retribution, also known as Operation Punishment, was the April 1941 German bombing of Belgrade, the capital of Yugoslavia, in retaliation for the coup d'état that overthrew the government that had signed the Tripartite Pact. The bombing occurred in the first days of the German-led Axis invasion of Yugoslavia during World War II. The Royal Yugoslav Army Air Force (VVKJ) had only 77 modern fighter aircraft available to defend Belgrade against the hundreds of German fighters and bombers that struck in the first wave early on 6 April. Three days prior, VVKJ Major Vladimir Kren had defected to the Germans, disclosing the locations of multiple military assets and divulging the VVKJ's codes.

1st Belgrade Special Combat detachment

The 1st Belgrade Special Combat detachment was a special police unit which was established by the German Gestapo in the Territory of the Military Commander in Serbia during World War II.

Serbian State Guard Paramilitary unit

The Serbian State Guard was a collaborationist paramilitary force used to impose law and order within the German occupied territory of Serbia during World War II. It was formed from two former Yugoslav gendarmerie regiments, was created with the approval of the German military authorities, and for a long period was controlled by the Higher SS and Police Leader in the occupied territory. It was also known as the Nedićevci (Недићевци) after the leader of the German-installed Serbian puppet government, General Milan Nedić, who eventually gained control of its operations. It assisted the Germans in imposing one of the most brutal occupation regimes in occupied Europe and helped guard and execute prisoners at the Banjica concentration camp in Belgrade. Its leaders and much of the rank and file were sympathetic to the Chetnik movement of Draža Mihailović, and it was purged by the Germans on several occasions for that reason. In October 1944, as the Soviet Red Army closed on Belgrade, the SDS was transferred to Mihailović's control by a member of the fleeing Nedić administration, but it quickly disintegrated during its withdrawal west, with only a small number of former SDS members being captured by the British near the Italian-Yugoslav border in May 1945.

Slovene Home Guard

The Slovene Home Guard was a Slovene anti-Partisan military organization that was active during the 1943–1945 German occupation of the formerly Italian-occupied Province of Ljubljana. It consisted of former Village Sentries, part of Italian-sponsored Anti-Communist Volunteer Militia, re-organized under Nazi command after the Italian Armistice.

Russian Protective Corps

The Russian Protective Corps was an armed force composed of anti-communist White Russian émigrés that was raised in the German occupied territory of Serbia during World War II. Commanded for almost its whole existence by Lieutenant General Boris Shteifon, it served primarily as a guard force for factories and mines between late 1941 and early 1944, initially as the "Separate Russian Corps" then Russian Factory Protective Group. It was incorporated into the Wehrmacht on 1 December 1942 and later clashed with the communist-led Yugoslav Partisans and briefly with the Chetniks. In late 1944, it fought against the Red Army during the Belgrade Offensive, later withdrawing to Bosnia and Slovenia as the Germans retreated from the Balkans. After Shteifon′s death in Zagreb, the Independent State of Croatia, on 30 April 1945, Russian Colonel Anatoly Rogozhin took over and led his troops farther north to surrender to the British in southern Austria. Unlike most other Russian formations that fought for Nazi Germany, Rogozhin and his men, who were not formally treated as Soviet citizens, were exempt from forced repatriation to the Soviet Union and were eventually set free and allowed to resettle in the West.

World War II in Yugoslavia

World War II military operations in Yugoslavia began on 6 April 1941, when the Kingdom of Yugoslavia was swiftly conquered by Axis forces and partitioned between Germany, Italy, Hungary, Bulgaria and client regimes. Subsequently, a guerrilla liberation war was fought against the Axis occupying forces and their locally established puppet regimes, including the fascist Independent State of Croatia (NDH) and the Government of National Salvation in the German-occupied territory of Serbia, by the communist-led republican Yugoslav Partisans. Simultaneously, a multi-side civil war was waged between the Yugoslav communist Partisans, the Serbian royalist Chetniks, the Croatian fascist Ustashe and Home Guard, Serbian Volunteer Corps and State Guard, as well as Slovene Home Guard troops.

Kosta Mušicki

Konstantin "Kosta" Mušicki commanded the collaborationist Serbian Volunteer Corps during World War II. He was captured by the British Army at the end of the war, but was subsequently handed over to the Yugoslav authorities, who tried and executed him for war crimes.

Velibor Jonić

Velibor Jonić was a Serbian fascist politician and government minister in the Territory of the Military Commander in Serbia during World War II. He taught at the Military Academy in Belgrade and at the Yugoslav royal court before the war. He was also the secretary-general of Zbor. He became the Serbian Commissioner of Education on 10 July 1941. He was tried of collaboration by the communists following the war and was sentenced to death. He was executed in July 1946.

Kosovo Operation (1944)

The Kosovo Operation was a series of military operations leading up to one final push during World War II, launched by the Bulgarian army with the assistance of Albanian and Yugoslav Partisans to expel German forces from Kosovo and prevent the retreat of German forces from Greece. German Army Group E was withdrawing through it from Greece towards Bosnia, since the escape route through Niš and Belgrade had been closed by the Yugoslav Partisan, Bulgarian and Soviet forces.

Ilija Trifunović-Birčanin Serbian Chetnik leader

Ilija Trifunović-Birčanin was a Serbian Chetnik military commander. He took part in the Balkan Wars and World War I and afterwards served as the president of the Association of Serb Chetniks for Freedom and the Fatherland in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. Beginning in 1941 he collaborated with the Italians under the awareness and condonation of supreme Chetnik commander Draža Mihailović. In the spring of 1942, he was appointed by Mihailović as the commander of Chetniks in Dalmatia, Herzegovina, western Bosnia and southwestern Croatia. In October 1942, Trifunović-Birčanin and his subordinate commanders, Dobroslav Jevđević and Petar Baćović, were responsible for the killing of over 500 Bosnian Muslim and Bosnian Croat civilians in the Prozor region in October 1942. He died in Split on 3 February 1943, having suffered from poor health for a considerable period of time.

The Commissioner Government was a short-lived Serbian collaborationist puppet government established in the German occupied territory of Serbia within the Axis-partitioned Kingdom of Yugoslavia during World War II. It operated from 30 April to 29 August 1941, was headed by Milan Aćimović, and is also referred to as the Commissars Government or Council of Commissars. Of the ten commissioners, four had previously been ministers in various Yugoslav governments, and two had been assistant ministers. The members were pro-German, antisemitic and anti-communist, and believed that Germany would win the war. The Aćimović government lacked any semblance of power, and was merely an instrument of the German occupation regime, carrying out its orders within the occupied territory. Under the overall control of the German Military Commander in Serbia, supervision of its day-to-day operations was the responsibility of the chief of the German administrative staff, SS-Brigadeführer and State Councillor, Harald Turner. One of its early tasks was the implementation of German orders regarding the registration of Jews and Romani people living in the territory, and the placing of severe restrictions on their liberty.

Ivan Tomašević was a Croatian general who served as a captain in the Austrian-Hungarian Army and as colonel in the Royal Yugoslav Army. After the establishment of the Independent State of Croatia, Tomašević joined the Croatian Home Guard.

342nd Infantry Division (Wehrmacht)

The 342nd Infantry Division was a formation of the German Wehrmacht during World War II. Established on 19 November 1940, it was formed from elements of two existing divisions. It first served as part of the occupation forces in France between June and September 1941 and was then largely responsible for the brutal repression of resistance in eastern parts of Axis-occupied Yugoslavia between September 1941 and February 1942.

Yugoslav government-in-exile World War II government-in-exile of Yugoslavia

The Government of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in Exile was an official government of Yugoslavia, headed by King Peter II. It evacuated from Belgrade in April 1941, after the Axis invasion of the country, and went first to Greece, then to Palestine, then to Egypt and finally, in June 1941, to the United Kingdom.

German-occupied territory of Montenegro

The German-occupied territory of Montenegro was the area of the Italian governorate of Montenegro occupied by German forces in September 1943, after the Armistice of Cassibile; in which the Kingdom of Italy capitulated and joined the Allies. Italian forces retreated from the governorate, and from neighbouring Albania. German forces occupied Montenegro, along with Albania, and the territory remained under German occupation until Axis forces evacuated in December 1944.

German–Yugoslav Partisan negotiations March 1943 ceasefire and prisoner exchange talks

The German–Yugoslav Partisan negotiations were held between German commanders in the Independent State of Croatia and the Supreme Headquarters of the Yugoslav Partisans in March 1943 during World War II. The negotiations – focused on obtaining a ceasefire and establishing a prisoner exchange – were conducted during the Axis Case White offensive. They were used by the Partisans to delay the Axis forces while the Partisans crossed the Neretva River, and to allow the Partisans to focus on attacking their Chetnik rivals led by Draža Mihailović. The negotiations were accompanied by an informal ceasefire that lasted about six weeks before being called off on orders from Adolf Hitler. The short-term advantage gained by the Partisans through the negotiations was lost when the Axis Case Black offensive was launched in mid-May 1943. Prisoner exchanges, which had been occurring between the Germans and Partisans for some months prior, re-commenced in late 1943 and continued until the end of the war.

August Meyszner Austrian police officer, SS officer and Nazi politician (1886-1947)

August Edler von Meyszner was an Austrian Gendarmerie officer, right-wing politician, and senior Ordnungspolizei officer who held the post of Higher SS and Police Leader in the German-occupied territory of Serbia from January 1942 to March 1944, during World War II. He has been described as one of Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler's most brutal subordinates.

Kraljevo massacre Massacre in German-occupied Serbia

The Kraljevo massacre was the mass murder of approximately 2,000 residents of the central Serbian city of Kraljevo by the Wehrmacht between 15 and 20 October 1941, during World War II. The massacre came in reprisal for a joint Partisan–Chetnik attack on a German garrison during the Siege of Kraljevo in which 10 German soldiers were killed and 14 wounded. The number of hostages to be shot was calculated based on a ratio of 100 hostages executed for every German soldier killed and 50 hostages executed for every German soldier wounded, a formula devised by Adolf Hitler with the intent of suppressing anti-Nazi resistance in Eastern Europe.

Vučko Ignjatović Serbian military officer

Vučko Ignjatović was a Serbian officer of the Royal Yugoslav Army who was commander of the Požega Chetnik detachment during the Second World War in Yugoslavia.

References

Citations

  1. Pitsch 2004, p. 53.
  2. Pitsch 2004, pp. 54–55.
  3. Pitsch 2004, p. 55.
  4. Pitsch 2004, p. 56.
  5. Pitsch 2004, p. 57.
  6. Pitsch 2004, p. 112.
  7. Manoschek 1995, p. 18.
  8. Vogel 2001, pp. 303–308.
  9. Pitsch 2009, p. 4.
  10. Tomasevich 1975, p. 235.
  11. Tomasevich 2001, pp. 70–71.
  12. 1 2 Tomasevich 2001, p. 756.
  13. Tomasevich 2001, p. 756–757.
  14. Pitsch 2009, p. 277.

Bibliography

  • Manoschek, Walter (1995). "Serbien ist judenfrei". Militärische Besatzungspolitik und Judenvernichtung in Serbien 1941/42. Band 38 von Beiträge zur Militär- und Kriegsgeschichte (in German). Oldenbourg, München. ISBN   3-486-56137-5.
  • Pitsch, Erwin (2004). Alexander Löhr. Band 1: Der Generalmajor und Schöpfer der Österreichischen Luftstreitkräfte[Alexander Löhr. Volume 1: The Major General and Creator of the Austrian Air Force] (in German). Salzburg, Austria: Österreichischer Miliz-Verlag. ISBN   978-3-901185-21-2.
  • Pitsch, Erwin (2009). Alexander Löhr. Band 3: Heerführer auf dem Balkan[Alexander Löhr. Volume 3: Army Commander in the Balkans] (in German). Salzburg, Austria: Österreichischer Miliz-Verlag. ISBN   978-3-901185-23-6.
  • Scherzer, Veit (2007). Die Ritterkreuzträger 1939–1945[The Knight's Cross Bearers 1939–1945] (in German). Jena, Germany: Scherzers Militaer-Verlag. ISBN   978-3-938845-17-2.
  • Tomasevich, Jozo (1975). War and Revolution in Yugoslavia, 1941–1945: The Chetniks. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press. ISBN   978-0-8047-0857-9.
  • Tomasevich, Jozo (2001). War and Revolution in Yugoslavia, 1941–1945: Occupation and Collaboration. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press. ISBN   978-0-8047-3615-2.
  • Vogel, Detlef (2001). "Operation "Strafgericht". Die rücksichtslose Bombardierung Belgrads durch die deutsche Luftwaffe am 6. April 1941". In Ueberschär, Gerd; Wette, Wolfram (eds.). Kriegsverbrechen im 20. Jahrhundert (in German). Darmstadt: Primus. ISBN   3-89678-417-X.

Further reading

Military offices
Preceded by
none
Commander of Luftwaffenkommando Österreich
1 July 1938 – 18 March 1939
Succeeded by
redesignated Luftflotte 4
Preceded by
none
Commander of Luftflotte 4
18 March 1939 – 20 July 1942
Succeeded by
Generalfeldmarschall Wolfram Freiherr von Richthofen
Preceded by
General der Pioniere Walter Kuntze
Commander of 12th Army
3 July 1942 – December 1942
Succeeded by
General der Panzertruppe Walther Wenck
Preceded by
none
Commander of Army Group E
31 December 1942 – 8 May 1945
Succeeded by
none