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|Josef Ferdinand von Österreich-Toskana|
|Josef Ferdinand Salvator Maria Franz Leopold Anton Albert Johann Baptist Karl Ludwig Rupert Maria Auxilatrix was born on 24 May 1872 in Salzburg. He was the elder brother of Archduke Peter Ferdinand. His father was Ferdinand IV, the titular Grand Duke of Tuscany and was Kaiser Franz Josef's best friends until the Grand Duke's death on 17 January 1908. It is from the Grand Duke's name that his five sons carried the second name of "Ferdinand."
Archduke Instead of Grand Duke
After his father's death, Josef Ferdinand really became the best claimant to the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, for his older brother Leopold Ferdinand (named after Grand Duke Leopold II, who fled Florence in 1860) took the name Leopold Wölfling in 1902, apparently dropping noble pretenses and claims.
Erzherzog Joseph Ferdinand attended the military Oberrealchule at Mährisch Weissenkirchen and after that the Maria Theresa military academy at Wiener Neustadt from which he was commissioned as a Leutnant in the Tirol Jäger regiment on the 18th of August 1892. Following various assignments with IR No. 93, No. 17, No. 59 and Tirol Jäger Regiment No. 4, he was attached to IR No. 27 as an Oberstleutnant in 1903. From 1895 until 1897, he attended the Kriegsschule in Vienna. From 1905 until 1908, the Archduke commanded IR No. 93 as an Oberst followed by command of Infantry Brigade No. 5. However, his service was more and more interrupted hunting trips abroad.
Ahead of His Time
Furthermore, Archduke Josef Ferdinand concerned himself with air travel, which was not yet taken seriously in military circles. He was already fascinated by balloons from an early age; by 1909, he arranged a balloon flight from his manor in Linz to Dieppe in France, which lasted 16 hours. In January 1911, the Archduke received command of the 3. infantry division in Linz, followed afterwards by his promotion to FML on 1 May 1911.
Archduke on the Fields of Battle
FML Archduke Josef Ferdinand took control of the XIV. Corps in August 1914, succeeding GdK Viktor Dankl, who had gone to command the I. Army. His Corps was part of the III. Army of General Brudermann. By the beginning of September 1914, the devastating battles at the Zlota and Gnila Lipas practically destroyed the III. Army, and the IV. Army under General Auffenberg was also decimated following Rawa Russka. The Archduke was chosen to replace Auffenberg, and this occurred on 1 October. Meanwhile, the XIV. Corps was taken over by FML Josef Roth on 30 September.
Josef Ferdinand was to remain in command of the IV. Army until early June 1916. At this time, General Brussilov launched his Lutsk Offensive into the juncture of the IV. and I. Armies. The result was that Josef Ferdinand's trenches were obliterated by the Russian bombardment and his troops were surrendering en masse to the advancing Russians. In the light of this massive set-back, the German High Command insisted on his removal from command. The Archduke went into retirement and was replaced by General Tersztyanszky.
Following the accession of Kaiser Karl in November 1916, Archduke Joseph Ferdinand was offered the post of Inspector General of the Imperial Air Force. Archduke could bring his interest in ballooning to the post. Army HQ immediately objected to the appointment, but in spite of their reservations the Archduke was appointed to his new post on 8 July 1917 and he remained there until 3 September 1918.
Dropping All Royal Pretenses
After the war, Josef Ferdinand settled in Vienna as a commoner. He was married on 2 May 1921 to Rosa Kaltenbrunner, who was not a noblesse. However, his wife died in 1928. On 27 January 1929, Josef Ferdinand married again, this time to Gertrude Tomanek von Beyerfels-Mondsee. By this marriage, he had two children, Claudia (b. 1930) and Maximilian (b. 1932). Gertrude survived until 15 February 1997, when she passed away in Salzburg.
When the Germans occupied Austria in 1938, Josef Ferdinand found himself under arrest along with more than 70,000 other Viennese. He was first interrogated by thte Gestapo and, found guilty of questionable behaviour, sent to a concentration camp. He was imprisoned there for three months, and the conditions ruined his health permanently. Josef Ferdinand was released and lived an isolated existence thereafter. He was kept under continual observation by the Gestapo. The ex-Archduke Josef Ferdinand died on 28 February 1942, in Vienna.
GWS, 10/02 [rev. 9/04]
|Orders of Battle: Galician Front, early August 1914
Immediately preceding the invasion of Poland
3. Armee, GdK Rudolf Ritter v. Brudermann
XIV. Korps, GdI Erzherzog Josef Ferdinand
3. inf. div., FML Joseph Roth
5. inf. brig., GM Joseph Schneider Edler v. Manns-Au
15. inf. brig., GM Theodor Stipek
3. feld art. brig., GM Edmund Edler v. Sellner
8. inf. div., FML Johann Freiherr v. Kirchbach
16. inf. brig., GM Emil Herzberg
96. inf. brig., GM Richard Mayer
121. inf. brig., GM Adolf v. Brunswik
8. feld art. brig., Obst Karl Petersilka
44. Landstürm inf. div., FML Heinrich v. Tschurtschenthaler
87. Landstürm inf. brig., GM Franz Ritter v. Rziha
122. Landstürm inf. brig., GM Ludwig Goiginger
44. feld art. brig., Obst Eugen v. Brunswik
88. Landstürm Schützen brig., GM Karl Georgi
41. Honvéd inf. div., FML Johann Nikic
40. Honvéd inf. brig., Obst Adalbert Tanárky
82. Honvéd inf. brig., GM Rudolf Schamschula
41. Feld art. brig., Obst Adolf Bauzner
23. Honvéd inf. div., FML Heinrich Daempf
(arrived 27 Aug 1914 from 2. Armee on SE front)
4. kav. div., GM Edmund Ritter v. Zaremba
18. kav. brig., GM Eugen Chevalier Ruiz de Roxas
21. kav. brig., Obst Alois Ritter v. Klepsch-Kloth
2. kav. div., FML Emil Ritter v. Ziegler
3. kav. brig., GM Albert Freiherr v. Abele
16. kav. brig., GM Erich Freiherr von Diller
11. Honvéd kav. div., GM Julius Freiherr v. Nagy
22. Honvéd kav. brig., GM Karl Czitó
24. Honvéd kav. brig., Obst Ladislaus v. Jony
The XIV. Corps was one of the few Corps charged with guarding the eastern frontier of the Empire, as most commanders thought the main battles would be fought in Poland. Since the culture of the Offensive dominated Army HQ, the frontier on the river Zbrucz was practically forgotten—by everyone except the Russians. They also subscribed to the culture of the offensive, and it was convenient that the biggest gathering point for Russia’s mobilisation was in Kiev gubernija, directly east of the Zbrucz.
When Russian armies crossed the river into Austrian territory in the second week of August, in many instance they outnumbered the Austrian defenders 20 to 1. The entire XIV. Corps took part in the Battle of the Zlota Lipa on 24 August 1914, whose bloody failure should have warned Austrian HQ of how dire the situation was. Instead, the invasion of Poland continued unabated, and the Archduke Josef Ferdinand ordered his divisions to withdraw from the Zlota Lipa some 12 to 24 miles miles northwest to make a stand on the Gnila Lipa.
Here, on 28 August 1914, the Russians virtually destroyed the entire Austrian 3. Army, including important divisions in the XIV. Corps. Some survivors managed to flee the rout. The 2. Cavalry division of FML v. Ziegler was decimated. The 4. cavalry division was destroyed to a man and GM v. Zaremba had nothing to command. It was to the Archduke’s credit that he was able to gather up the broken, fleeing pieces of his Corps, add replacement troops, and throw them all into a fighting retreat.
The resulting battles, brief standoffs at every river and hillock west of Lemberg, were nothing for Army HQ to call admirable at the time, but subsequent analysis proves that the Archduke had given intelligent and thoughtful orders in the face of the overwhelming superiority of the enemy in terms of manpower, equipment, troop morale, and officer quality.
By 30 September 1914, with most of Galicia under Russian occupation and all armies pushed against the Carpathian mountains, the Supreme Commander Archduke Friedrich dismissed GdI Moritz von Auffenberg and made Archduke Josef Ferdinand commander of the 4. Army.
GWS, 9/04 [rev. 10/04]
|Limanowa, December 1914: Time to Save the Empire from Destruction!
Russian General Radko Dmitriev launched his 3. Army toward Krakau in an offensive designed by the commander of the Russian Southwestern Front, General Ivanov. He was opposed by the 4. Army which extended from above the Vistula to Neu Sandec at the foot of the Carpathians.
In consultation with General Conrad, the Archduke ordered General Arz von Straussenberg's VI. Corps to attack the Russians on the left flank of the city along with Josef Pilsudski's 1. Polish Brigade. This effort managed to force the 3. Army to the south of the city. The Archduke then ordered General Roth's XIV. Corps to keep the Russians enclosed in a salient that was created below the Vistula.
General Brussilov committed several divisions from his Russian VIII. Army to break through to Silesia regardless of the failure to capture Krakau. However, General Arz dispatched whatever forces he could spare all the way around the salient to Neu Sandec, where the 3. Army under General Boroevic prepared to meet Brusilov's advancing 8. Army.
Boroevic's attack at Limanowa on 8 December 1914 caved in the side of the salient, thus forcing both Brussilov and Radko Dmitriev to retreat from Krakau and reassemble on line of the rivers Nida and Dunajec.
GWS, 12/00 [rev. 10/04]
|Orders of Battle: The Galician Front, early January 1915
Immediately preceding the Battles of the Carpathians
IV. Armee, Gen. d. Inf. Erzherzog Josef Ferdinand
XVII Korps, Gen. d. Inf. Kritek
XLI. Honved inf. div., Feldmlt. Schay
XIV. Korps, Feldmlt. Roth
III. inf. div., Feldmlt. Horsetzky
VIII. inf. div., Feldmlt. Fabini
Deutsch XLVII. res. div., Genlt. von Beßer
XI. Korps, Feldz. Ljubicic
XI. inf. div., Feldmlt. von Bellemont
XV. inf. div., Feldmlt. von Schenk
XXX. inf. div., Feldmlt. Kaiser
VI. kav. div., Feldmlt. Wittmann
|Defending the Flanks in the Worst Conditions
On 19 March 1915, the Russians decided to launch a final offensive designed to finish off the Austrians once and for all. Their objectives were little changed from December: reduce Przemysl and break into Hungary. This offensive was ranged along the entire front, and the Archduke's IV. Army felt the sting of the Russian III. Army under General Radko Dmitriev.
Josef Ferdinand commanded the Beskid and Tarnow passes into Silesia and Hungary, but the Russians held the Gorlice and Jaslo roads, from whence a fierce assault against Neusandetz (Nowy Sacz) was launched. If Neusandetz fell, then the way to Krakau would once again become untenable for the Austrians, and the extremely dangerous Mezö Laborcz sector defended by GdK Svetozar Boroevic would be seriously threatened on its left flank. The Russians gained some initial objectives, most notably an advance into Neusandetz itself, and they hoped to be in Bartfeld, a critical junction in the cross-Carpathian supply lines.
However, a counter-offensive, timed with the arrival of fresh reinforcements from Germany, was launched on 6 April and succeeded in throwing back the Russians beyond Zboro and Neusandetz was reconquered. The success of this stroke along with the new force provided by additional reserves allowed the IV. Army to restore its original front in the Carpathians.
Further north during this season, the IX. Army of General Lechitski was moved from its position astride the Vistula river where it had sat from early December until late February, and was sent to the Dniester, where the Austrians under GdK Karl von Pflanzer-Baltin were scoring the best successes in the winter campaign. This gave Josef Ferdinand enough breathing room to divert additional forces from the static Vistula sector (guarded by GdI Viktor Dankl's I. Army on the north) to the Carpathians.
|Josef Kaswurm: The youngest soldier in the IV. Army|
|The above photo was quite famous for its day. General of the Infantry Archduke Josef Ferdinand poses with the youngest soldier in his IV. Army, Josef Kaswurm. Apparently, Josef's father was called to service and, since the boy's mother had died, he took his son with him to the trenches. After a while, it became known that the boy was living with his father in the front lines. Josef was removed to the rear, where he did his bit for the war effort by cleaning guns and helping around Army HQ where he could, including this photo, which was reproduced in many magazines and books. As to what happened to Josef Kaswurm or his father, that story was never told, as the propaganda people found other stories to tell, especially after the Brussilov Offensive that ended up removing Archduke Josef Ferdinand from command.
|Orders of Battle: Eastern Front, May 1915
Immediately preceding the Dunajec offensive
IV. Armee, Gen. d. Inf. Erzherzog Josef Ferdinand
Chief of Staff, Feldmlt. Rudolf Krauss
IX. Korps, Feldmlt. Kralicek
Chief of Staff, Oberst v. Krammer
106. Landsturm inf. div., Feldmlt. Kletter
60. inf. brig., Genmj. v. Gruber
k.k. 110 Landsturm inf. brig., Genmj. Aust
106. field art. brig., Oberst Edl. v. Portenschlag
10. inf. div., Genmj. v. Mecenseffy
19. inf. brig., Genmj. v. Iwanski
20. inf. brig., Genmj. Reymann
10. field art. brig., Oberst Blaha
Comb. inf. div., Feldmlt. Edl. v. Stöger-Steiner
7. inf. brig., Genmj. Schaible
121. inf. brig., Oberst Edl. v. Merten
Detachement Obstlt. Frh. v. Vever
XIV. Korps, Feldmlt. Roth
Chief of Staff, Oberst Göttlicher
Gruppe Oberst Morgenstern
8. inf. div., Feldmlt. v. Fabini
96. inf. brig., Genmj. Ritt. v. Rziha
8. field art. brig., Oberst Petersilka
3. inf. div., Feldmlt. Edl. v. Horsetzky
5. inf. brig., Genmj. Richard Müller
15. inf. brig., Oberst Gustav Fischer
3. field art. brig., Feldmlt. Edl. v. Sellner
31. inf. brig., Genmj. v. Szende
11. Honvéd kav. div., Feldmlt. Gf. Bissingen
|Battles Explode on the Dunajec: Time to Bring the Russians to their Knees!
April's thaw effectively ended the Russians' gambit to break onto the Hungarian Plain; between mud and a lack of men and materiel, the Russians were in no position to take on any further stresses. They were counting on the Austrians being in the same or worse condition. Radko Dmitriev's III. Army commanded a front extending along the Dunajec River south over the Beskid Carpathians and to the town of Mezö Laborcz.
As we have seen, after the Battle of Limanowa in December 1914, Archduke Josef Ferdinand's IV. Army sat across from Radko Dmitriev's III. Army while the latter dispatched a great deal of its strength against Boroevic's III. Army. Radko Dmitriev made certain to keep a reserve to guard the Archduke, but by April, this was no longer significant. The Archduke managed to build a superiority in Artillery and shells. Behind the Archduke Josef Ferdinand's right flank and Boroevic's left was the German XI. Army, commanded by General August von Mackensen. It was built in secrecy and commanded a large supply line. Conrad had suggested the Dunajec as the best point to begin the summer offensive, as there was no line of defense for the Russians until the San River. There was an unmissable opportunity to crush the Russians between the two rivers.
Mackensen opened his bombardment on May 1, 1915. Next day, the Archduke's IV. Army joined the XI. Army in crossing the Russian trenches. The IV. Army passed both sides of Tarnow, forcing the Russian IX. Corps to retreat from their positions along the lower Dunajec and around the city. To stem the flood, Radko Dmitriev threw his reserves into the fight without artillery cover and the next week saw a heroic defense by the Russians. It was all for nought, however. Radko Dmitriev had a general fighting retreat underway by May 10, and four days later, the IV. Army had reached the San River north of Jaroslau.
Radko Dmitriev wasn't through, yet. He took his final reserves, the III. Caucasian Corps, and launched them against the IV. Army north of Jaroslau. This caused the Austrians to falter, and Mackensen had to divert part of the XI. Army to block the counterstock, lest the momentum of his offensive be lost. Mackensen helped the Archduke break through the Sieniawa Line and cross the San River on June 12, a week after he had forced the Russians out of Przemysl.
Radko Dmitriev had no heavy artillery and precious few shells for his smaller guns. Under these circumstances, he resumed the fighting retreat out of central Galicia. The offensive continued throughout July and August 1915. The Archduke Josef Ferdinand kept his army parallel to Mackensen's forces to the south.
On June 19, the IV. Army made its move in conjunction with the XI. Army against Brussilov's line of Zolkiew-Rawa Russka. Mackensen delivered his blow between Brussilov and Radko Dmitriev, with the Russians breaking apart after a heavy bombardment by the German artillery. Brussilov prepared new positions in front of Lemberg, but was forced to evacuate on June 22 when the Austrian II. Army put pressure on the trench lines to the south.
|Lemberg, June 1915: We have Returned from Whence We Came!
Following Lemberg's fall under Mackensen, the IV. Army drow toward Lublin as it had done one year earlier. Mackensen reorganised the armies for this next challenge: the Austrian II. Army under General Böhm-Ermolli was released from Army Group Mackensen and replaced by the new German Army of the Bug, which was formed under General Linsingen. Operating between Army Group Mackensen in the north and Army Group Böhm-Ermolli in the south was the recently transferred Austrian I. Army under General Puhallo.
Opposing Army Group Mackensen was the Russian III. Army under Ewarth, the III. Army under Lesh, and a new army formed by Gorbatowski, the XIII. In mid-July, the Russian IV. Army counterattacked at Krasnik, the scene of a famous Austrian victory the year before, causing the Austrians to stumble back with a loss of 17,000+ soldiers. Mackensen was able to reverse the outcome only a day later. During this battle, the Russian Guards and the Prussian Guards met on the battlefield for the first time-it was a draw.
Ten days later, Mackensen drove his armies between Lublin and Kholm. Lublin was seized on July 29, 1915. But, the Russian IV. Army was passing north of the advance by Army Group Mackensen. The strategic plan had been to net the retreating Russians between the push by Gallwitz and Woyrsch in the centre and north of Poland and Mackensen's drive from the south. However, Ewarth compelled the Austrian IV. Army to crawl to Brest-Litovsk following the dash from Lemberg.
Mackensen directed the Army of the Bug to save the plan by winding behind the Bug River and through the marshes to Pinsk. It was too late, however. Brest-Litovsk finally fell on August 26, but most of the Russians had escaped to the new front stretching north-south through the Pinsk marshes. Following this, the Archduke Josef Ferdinand and his IV. Army was transferred below the marshes to hold the new frontlines opposite Lutsk. This sector was heavily fortified with multiple trenches in anticipation of a long wait. Indeed, the front would remain inactive for nine months.
|Orders of Battle: The Volhynian Front, mid-Sep. 1915
Immediately following the successful counteroffensive under the direction of General Mackensen
IV. Armee, Gen. d. Inf, Erzherzog Josef Ferdinand
IV. kav. div., Genmj. Berndt
VII. kav. div., Genmj. Marenzi
XIV. Korps, Gen. d. Inf. Roth
II. inf. div., Feldmlt. von Sellner
III. inf. div., Feldmlt. Horsetzky
XXI. Schützen div., Genmj. Podhajsky
X. Korps, Feldmlt. Hugo Martiny
XXIV. inf. div., Genmj. Urbarz
LXII. inf. div., Genmj. Tunk
IX. Korps, Feldmlt. Kralicek
X. inf. div., Feldmlt. von Mecenseffy
XXVI. Schützen div., Feldmlt. Lischka
|Orders of Battle: The Volhynian Front, early June 1916
Immediately preceding the Brussilov Offensive
Linsingen Group, Gen. d. Inf. von Linsingen (Deutsch)
IV. Armee, Generaloberst Erzherzog Josef Ferdinand
VII. inf. div., Genmj. von Felix
LXX. Honved inf. div., Genmj. Goldbach
X. Korps, Gen. d. Inf. Martiny
II. inf. div., Feldmlt. von Sellner
XXXVII. Honved inf. div., Genmj. Tabadji
II. Korps, Feldmlt. Kaiser
XLI. Honved inf. div., Genmj. Schamschula
IV. inf. div., Genmj. Reymann
Reserve: XI. inf. div., Genmj. Grubic
XIII. Schützen div., Feldmlt. von Szekely
X. kav. div., Genmj. von Bauer
Fath Korps, Gen. d. Inf. Fath
XXVI. Schützen div., Feldmlt. Lischka
LIII. inf. div., Genmj. Pongracz
Hauer kav. Korps, Gen. d. Kav. von Hauer
Polish Legion, Genmj. von Puchalski
XI. Honved kav. div., Genmj. Czito
IX. kav. div., Feldmlt. von Leonhardi
Gronau Group (Deutsch XLI. res. Korps), Gen. d. Kav. von Gronau
LXXXII. res. div., Genmj. von Speßhardt
V. kav. div., Genmj. von Hofacker
Guards kav. div., Genlt. von Storch
LXXXI. res. div., Genlt. von Larisch
XLV. Schützen div., Feldmlt. Smekal
|Enemy Portrait: Alexei Alexeevich Brussilov|
|"Perhaps the best commander in World War I" is a distinction that is disputed among two candidates: Svetozar Boroevic von Bojna of the Austrian III. Army, and Alexei Brussilov of the Russian VIII. Army. Brussilov was luckier in that he was given the necessary resources to implement one majour offensive after another. This techniques were in themselves nothing complex. But, that's where is success lay. Lutsk, for example, his greatest victory, consisted of a secretly massed barrage of over 1,000 artillery pieces in a single four-mile front. The breakthrough was made with built-up reserves, and the Austrians were prevented from diverting troops from other sectors by a simultaneous advance on the whole front. Thus, while Lutsk caved in with tragic results for the Austrian IV. Army, the other sectors did not budge; the exception was Lechitsky's sector in the south, which unexpectedly fell apart after two weeks of pressure. Brussilov was aided by the fact that the Austrians had no reserves to throw against his breach. He knew this because the Austriians were in the midst of their much-anticipated offensive against Italy. Whereas Brussilov was regarded as a hero and the Lutsk offensive was hailed as Russia's rebirth, it was really an end for both. Brussilov was charged by General Kornilov to repeat the offensive in 1917. This time, the Austrians and Germans had reserves, and although there were initial gains, the Russians were stopped and actually thrown back, losing territory after only two weeks. When the bolsheviks came to power, Brussilov sided with them and became an officer of the Red Army. He was relegated to a minour front, however, because his reputation as commander of victorious Tsarist and Provisional Government armies was suspicious to the bolsheviks. His last assignment in 1919 was to prepare an army for the invasion of India. He traveled to Tashkent with this in mind, and wallowed in boredom for several months. He retired soon after.