Theodor Adrian von Renteln was born in Khodzi, Russia. He studied law and economics, but became a journalist. In 1928, he joined the NSDAP and the following year, he became the head of the National Socialist Secondary School Students' League. In 1931, he was appointed the head of the Hitler Youth, but he gave up leadership of the two organizations upon his election to the Reichstag.
On March 29, 1933, he became a member of the “Central Committee for Deflecting Jewish Atrocity and Boycott-Mongering,” participating in the boycott of Jewish businesses and other forms of persecution. In June 1933, he was appointed President of the German Council of Industry and Trade, holding this position until 1935. Renteln soon became known as the prime defender of the middle class in Nazi Germany. Von Renteln was also a member of the German Labor Front, being a staff leader. In 1940, he was appointed the Hauptamtsleiter of the Trade and Artisanship Section of the NSDAP Reich Leadership and was also the head of the Supreme Court of the Reich Labor Front.
In 1941, he was appointed the Generalkommissar of Lithuania, where he took increasingly harsh measures against the Jewish population. On August 26, 1941, he ordered that all telephones and lines were to be stripped, postal service be cut off, and bridges to the Kovno ghetto be surrounded with barbed wire fenses to prevent people from jumping off. This order also forbid the Jews of the Kovno ghetto to use doors, window frames, or houses for fuel. In 1943, he was implicated in the clearing of the Vilna ghetto, deporting 20,000 Jews to concentration or death camps. He was also implicated in plundering.
After the war, he was captured by the Russians, tried, and hanged for his crimes in 1946.