General der Infanterie Moritz Ritter von Auffenberg
Go back to the Austrian Commanders Page
Moritz Freiherr Auffenberg von Komarów
Moritz Freiherr von Auffenberg was born in Troppau, capital of Austrian Silesia, on 22 May 1852.  He joined the army at age 19 and rose to second lieutenant  in the XXVIII. Infantry  Regiment.  After graduating from the General Staff College, he became commander of the XXIII. Infantry Regiment in 1893.  In 1900, von Auffenberg was in command of the LXV. Infantry Regiment as Brigadier and then Major General.  By 1905, he was commander of the XXXVI. Infantry Division at Agram.  Two years later, he was ranked Inspector General of the "Korpsoffiziersschulen."  FML Auffenberg was appointed to command the XV. Army Corps in October 1909.  He was the successor to GdI Marian Varesanin von Vares. Auffenberg stayed in this command until September 1911, when he was replaced by FML Michael Edler von Appel.

Auffenberg was awarded the rank of General der Infanterie in 1910.  He was appointed Imperial Minister of War in 1911, succeeding GdI
Franz von Schönaich. Auffenberg held this position for only a year, after expanding the military budget for buying huge numbers of artillery pieces from Skoda.  He was replaced by General Alexander Krobatin. Apparently, the friction that existed between him and the Kaiser was too great, especially when his ally, General Conrad, had been dismissed earlier for similar friction. 

Thereafter, he was Inspector General of the Army.  Auffenberg commanded the Austrian IV. Army at the outset of WWI, and was given the task of carrying out a difficult enveloping manoeuver (see below).  He was removed from the command of the IV. Army on September 30, 1914, because of the defeat suffered during the "six days' battle" at Rawa Russka, and was replaced by the
Archduke Josef Ferdinand. Auffenberg published his memoires, "Aus Österreich Ungarns Teilnahme am Weltkrieg," in 1920.   He also wrote "Aus Österreichs Höhe und Niedergang--Eine Lebensschilderung" (Munich, 1921).  Moritz Freiherr Auffenberg von Komarów died in Vienna in 1928.

A Chief of Staff Charged with Crime?


A newspaper article from 28 May 1915 reported that Auffenberg was arrested as a political criminal.  However, the specific charges were never mentioned, nor was there any followup article.

"Austria's ex-War Chief is put under arrest.  Gen. von Auffenberg, formerly Minister and Recently in service, accused of crime.  London, May 28?General Moritz von Auffenberg, former Austro-Hungarian Minister of War, who commanded an army early in the war, has been arrested and is being treated as "a serious political criminal," according to the Frankfurter Zeitung, quoted by a Reuter dispatch from Amsterdam. 

"The Frankfurter Zeitung says in its account of the arrest of the Minister:  "Von Auffenberg has shown by his career that he is not a person of little importance.  He has been Minister of War, Chief of the General Staff, and at the beginning of the war received command of an army, and until recently was feted with an official approval, as the victor of Komarow.

"Shortly after this battle, however, he was deprived of his command, owing, it is said, to the failure of an enveloping operation, but nevertheless, on April 22 (1915) an Imperial decree was issued, conferring on him the title of baron and granting him in addition the title of von Komarow. 

"Four days later he was arrested and since then, he has been treated as a serious political criminal."  Events which happened during his tenure in office are given by the Frankfurter Zeitung as the ground for the investigation."

According to Christian Frech, Auffenberg was arrested for giving insider-knownledge to a friend when he was Minister of War in 1912. Apparently, Auffenberg told his friend that the new 30,5 mortars were contracted to the Skoda works. His friend then bought Skoda stocks to capitalise on this knowledge. Three years later, the truth came out, and just after the General was conferred his title. Therefore, Auffenberg was arrested but the resulting trial found him not guilty. Only the 'Ehrenrat' of the Officer Corps was his punishment.

GWS, 12/01
Orders of Battle:  Polish Front, August 1914
Immediately preceding the Invasion of Poland
IV. Armee,
General der Infanterie Moritz Ritter von Auffenberg
II. Korps, Gen. d. Inf.
Blasius Schemua
  IV. inf. div., Feldmarschalleutnant
Stöger-Steiner von Steinstätten
  XXV. inf. div., Feldmlt.
Erzherzog Peter Ferdinand
  XIII. Schützen div., Feldmlt. von Kreysa
VI. Korps, Gen. d. Inf.
Boroevic von Bojna
  XV. inf. div., Feldmlt. Wodniansky von Wildenfeld
  XVII. inf. div., Feldmlt. Gerstenberger
  XXXIX. Honved inf. div., Feldmlt.
Hadfy
IX. Korps, Gen. d. Inf.
von Hortstein
  X. inf. div., Feldmlt. Hordt
  XXVI. Schützen div., Feldmlt. von Friedel
XVII. Korps, Gen. d. Kav.
Graf Huyn
  XIX. inf. div., Feldmlt. Lukas
Support:  VI. kav. div., Feldmlt. Wittmann
  X. kav. div., Feldmlt. Mayr
Army Group Gen. d. Kav. Rittmeister
Kummer von Falkenfeld
  VII. kav. div., Feldmlt.
von Korda
  XCV. k. Öst. Landsturm inf. div., Genmj. von Richard-Rostoczil
   CVI. k. Öst. Landsturm inf. div., Genmj.
Czapp
  C. k. Ung. Landsturm inf. div., Genmj. von Stolacz
We must encircle the Russians!
Following General Conrad's plan "R,"  the IV. Army was to advance into Russian Poland along the left bank of the Bug river, seizing such points as Lublin, Vladimir Volynski, and ultimately Brest.  On Auffenberg's left was the I. Army under the command of General Dankl.  There was no army on Auffenberg's right at the outset, because the II. Army of General
Böhm-Ermolli was in transit from the Vojvodina above Serbia (the XII. Army Corps under General Hermann Kövess was its sole representative.  The right flank of the IV. Army was expected to be safe, as it would brush the Pinsk marshes, and the Russians could not manouever there to launch a flank attack, unless, of course, the II. Army was absent for too long.  Auffenberg won a victory over the Russians at Komarow in Poland, from whence the Kaiser granted him the distinction "von Komarów" that he wore with pride. 

Poised to take Lublin from the Russians, Auffenberg requested reserves in order to exploit the victory at Komarow.  The XII. Corps and part of the III. Army under General
Rudolf Brudermann was sent to aid him; these forces proved useless as the Volhynian Front collapsed under the weight of a Russian invasion.  Auffenberg was forced to wheel south to defend Lemberg from Russians advancing out of Volhynia (see fig. 1), and his gains in Poland were abandoned.

GWS, 1/01
Sketch Map of Eastern Galicia, early September 1914
As the map illustrates, Auffenberg's armies were forced to backpeddle after scoring a great success against Plehve, which had both affected the troops' morale and caused tremendous havoc in the transportation field.  Plehve wasted no time in following on the heels of Auffenberg, because he had heard from Russky, the commander of the Russian III. Army, that elements of the Austrian IV. Army were already being engaged on the upper Zlota Lipa before the end of August.  By the time Auffenberg's army could engage the III. Army in the main, it was too late. 

Plehve and Russky linked behind Lemberg and Auffenberg was caught in a vise.  He could not stem the advance of Russky, but only join Brudermann and Kövess in the retreat from the massacre on the Gnila Lipa.  Battle was given on the line of the Grodek lakes as the II. Army under General von Böhm-Ermolli was finally transferred to Galicia at the end of August, but even with fresh reinforcements, the retreat was inevitable.  The fortress of Przemysl under General
Hermann Kusmanek prepared to go under siege as elements of the II. and III. Armes passed to the south and the I. and IV. Armies traded positions to the north and west.

GWS, 10/01
1