Back to the Austrian Commanders page
Lothar von Hortstein
Oberleutnant Lothar Edler von Hortstein was made chief of staff for the XII. Corps in October 1896, succeeding Obst Heinrich Porges.  He remained in this position until April 1903, when he was replaced by Obst Stefan Sarkotic. Then in May 1911, FML Hortstein became commander of the XVI. Corps, replacing FZM Karl Fanta.  He served in this capacity until December 1912, when he surrendered this position to the former chief of the general staff, FML Blasius Schemua. For this, Hortstein took over command of the IX. Corps from GdI Adolf Rummer von Rummershof. 

Mistrust of the Serbs living in Syrmia caused the IX. Corps to directly interfere in civilian matters.  As Syrmia and part of eastern Slavonia were within the war front, Hortstein had complete control in this zone, no matter what orders or complaints came from Ban
Ivan Skerlecz in Agram or Premier Istvan Tisza in Budapest.  Thus, when first invasion of Serbia commenced in the third week of August, Hortstein saw fit to spring into action, forcibly evacuating hundreds of villagers from Syrmia to western Slavonia [Budapest did not want them settled in Hungary], and executing more than 120 suspected collaborators.  The Serbians passed reports on to the Entente press, who detailed gruesome retributions, some of which are reproduced below.

Hortstein retained his leadership in this Corps until September 1914, when he was replaced by FML Johann von Friedel.

GWS, 3/02 [rev. 9/04]
Orders of Battle:  Serbian Front, August 1914
Immediately following the full mobilisation
2. Army, GdK Eduard v. Böhm-Ermolli
    IX. Korps, GdI Lothar v. Hortstein
          29. inf. div., FML Alfred Graf v. Zedtwitz
                 Breit brig., GM Breit
                 57. inf. brig.
                 14. inf. brig.
                 58. inf. brig.
           Support, 23. Honved inf. div., FML Dämpf
           7. inf. div., FML Kasimir v. Lütgendorf
           10. kav. div., FML Mayr

When FML v. Hortstein departed for Galicia with his IX. Corps, he was obliged to leave behind his two divisions and a few smaller units to cover Syrmia, the easternmost part of Croatia-Slavonia; he took with him the cavalry and artillery, which was in desperate need on the Northern front.

GWS, 9/04


Orders of Battle:  Galician Front, September 1914
Immediately following remobilisation to the Northern Theatre
2. Army, GdK Eduard v. Böhm-Ermolli
    IX. Korps, GdI Lothar v. Hortstein
      Chief of Staff, Obst August Martinek
           10 inf. div., FML Theodor Hordt
                 19. inf. brig., Obst Artur Iwanski v. Iwanka
                 20. inf. brig., GM Hugo Reymann
                 10. feld art. brig., Obst August Blaha
           26. Landstürm inf. div., FML Johann v. Friedel
                 51. Landstürm inf. brig., GM Viktor Seidler
                 52. inf. brig., GM Otto Gössmann
                 26. feld art. brig., Obst Oskar v. Heimerich
Dealing with a Hostile Population?  An official proclamation

General Hortstein (IX. Korps, II. Army, Böhm-Ermolli):  by order of A.O.K. Op. Kr. 259,

"In consequence of the hostile attitude of the population of Klenak and Schabatz, hostages will be taken in all the Serbian villages, etc., even those situated on this side of the frontier, which are or will be occupied by the troops.  These hostages are to be killed at once in case of any crime being committed by the inhabitants against the armed forces (treason) and and the enemy villages are to be burnt.  The Commander of the Army Corps reserves the power to burn villages on our own territory.  This order is to be communicated without delay to the population by the civil authorities."


From Great Events of the Great War, edited by Charles Horne (
Entente publication, some truth and plenty of fiction):  A report by Professor R.A. Reiß, University of Lausanne

"Corporal D.X., of the XXVIII. Honved regiment, deposes:  At Sabac, the Austrians killed near the church more than 60 civilians who had previously been shut up there.  They were massacred with the bayonet to economize ammunition.  The work was done by eight Hungarian soldiers.  D.X. could not bear to see this sight and left the spot.  The corpses remained on the spot for two day before being buried.  Among the victims were old men and children.  The order for the massacre was given by the General and Officers."

"13 October 1914, report by a regimental commander in the Serbian army:  Near the Stipliane River, the Austrians took prisoners about 10 wounded men of the III. supernumerary regiment.  The wounds of these men were dressed.  When the Austrians found themselves obliged to leave their positions in consequence of the attack of the II. battalion of the III. Serbian regiment, they shot the wounded in order not to let them be retaken alive by the Serbs.  The wounded men were found with their wounds dressed, but dead.  At Jovanovac, near Sabac, about 50 soldiers of the II. Ban belonging to the XIII. and XIV. regiments, Timok division, surrendered to the Austrians and gave up their arms to them.  They were, however, all massacred by the Austro-Hungarian soldiers inside a house.  A little time afterwards the Serbs on recapturing Sabac found a heap of corpses in the farm of Jovanovac.  Photographs were taken and will form a permanent record of this contravention of all the laws of war.  Sometimes, the bodies of wounded soldiers were mutilated before or after their death.  Photographs in the possession of the Serbian government bears witness to this.  For example, Capt. J. Savic on 11-24 August 1914 photographed the boy of a young Serbian soldiers from which the Austrians had torn off the skin of the lower jaw."

"Massacres of civilians; dispositions of Austro-Hungarian prisoners-A.X., of the XXVI. regiment, reports:  He was ordered, and the order was read to the regiment, to kill and burn everybody and everything met with in the course of the campaign and to destroy everything Serbian.  Commandant Stanzer and Capt. Irketic gave orders to attack the Serbian population.  Before the second invasion orders were given a Janja on September 10 to conquer and destroy the country.  The civilian population were to be taken prisoners.  A peasant who showed the way to the troops was shot by Commandant Stanzer and his soldiers, who fired at him five times.  On another occasion, a Croatian soldier named Docan boasted of having killed a woman, a child, and two old men, and invited his comrades to come with him to see his victims."


"H.X., of the XXVIII. of the Line, states that the Hungarians devastated all the Serbian villages in Syrmia (in Hungary).  Capt. Eisenhut gave orders to strike down everything living in Serbia.  Mussulman peasants (Moslems) from Bosnia always followed the supply train to pillage."

"B.X., of the LXXVIII. regiment, states that First Lieutenant Bernhard said that everything found living must be killed.  Major Belina gave permission to his men to pillage and steal everything they could find."
1