|Back to the Austrian Commanders page|
|Paul Ritter von Kneussl was born in Lindau, Bavaria on 27 June 1862. Kneussl led the 1. Bavarian Reserve Infantry Brigade from the opening of the war in August 1914 until March 1915, and then the 11. Bavarian Reserve Infantry Division from April 1915 all the way until August 1918. It was with this formation that Kneussl took part in the fiercest fighting during the offensive on the Dunajec in the spring of 1915. With General Mackensen's direction, his division made a slow and steady advance against stiffening Russian defenses, but reached the outer trenches on Przemysl in the first week of June 1915. After a terrific bombardment of the outer works of Przemysl, Kneussl’s division was the first to break into the fort. General Böhm-Ermolli’s Austrian II. Army provided the main blow thereafter and its recapture.
For his part in the recapture, Kneussl was awarded the Pour le Merit. Kneussl was also granted the Bavarian Military Max Joseph Order and the Austrian Order of the Iron Crown 1st Class for his achievements. He received the additional Oak Leaves to his Pour le Merit two years later.
Kneussl led the XV. Bavarian Reserve Division from August to November 1918, replacing General Höhn, and fought in numerous key battles on the Eastern and Roumanian Fronts (see below). Finally, he took command of the 1. Bavarian Reserve Division in November 1918, replacing General Fasbender.
He was promoted to the brevet or “Charakter” rank of General der Infanterie on 18 August 1919 and was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Erlangen on 20 May 1925.
Paul Ritter von Kneussl died in Munich on 16 March 1928.
GWS, 6/03 [rev. 9/03]
|Orders of Battle: Volhynia, July 1916
Immediately following the Brussilov Offensive
Army Group Linsingen, Gen. d. Inf. von Linsingen
IV. Armee, Generaloberst Karl von Tersztyanszky
Bernhardi Group, Gen. d. Kav. von Bernhardi
Deutsch comb. inf. div., Genmj. Rusche
XI. Bay. inf. div., Genlt. von Kneußl
The battle for Kowel began on 28 July 1916 and found Kneussl's group right in front of the Russians' steamroller. His group included the 45 infantry division and the 2. brigade of the Polish Legion. The Russian XLVI. Corps in the III. Army attacked the eastern road, which Kneussl guarded. He was able to repel the assault through a grueling week-long duel, but his southern flank was weakened miserably by the failings of the II. Corps and the 41 Honved Infantry Division in particular. These forces fell back some 15 km toward Kowel, where Army Group commander von Linsingen watched the duel nervously. Kneussl sent the Polish brigade south into the fray on 29 July, but they too had to retreat and the Russians forced them right back where they started from. A week later, Kneussl stabilized the front and the Russian 100 division halted their offensive activities in the direction of Kowel. The battle was raging further south, where the Corps of Lüttwitz and Szurmay were giving up more territory. A month later, the Russian XLVI Corps made another attempt on the northern flank of Kneussl's sector, right where it met the 53. infantry division. The Russians crossed no-man's land but were repulsed at the second line of trenches. A sensible retreat was effected by the third week of August.
Orders of Battle: Volhynia, August 1916
Immediately following Roumania's declaration of war on Austria-Hungary
Army Group Linsingen, Gen. d. Inf. von Linsingen
IV. Armee, Generaloberst von Tersztyanszky
Polish Legion, Genmj. von Puchalski
XXVI. Schützen div., Genmj. von Wieden
XLV. Schützen div., Genmj. von Stöhr
XI. Bay. div., Genlt. von Kneußl
LIII. inf. div., Genmj. von Pongracz
Deutsch comb. div., Genlt. Clausius
In October 1916, following the failed Kowel offensive, a series of adjustments on both sides of the front occurred. First, Kneussl's group lost the Polish Legion's 2. brigade and the 11. infantry brigade, both of which went into reserve. This may be a result of the entire Russian I. Turkoman Corps being moved from Kneussl's sector further south to face Szurmay's Corps. Now, the Russian XXXIV. Corps soon arrived to aid the XXX. Corps opposing Kneussl, but it was smaller and had been unreliable when facing Szurmay directly. Therefore, Gruppe Fath decided to reduce the troop size in a sector that was clearly going to see less action in the upcoming winter. This was clearly a presage of what was going to happen next.
Kneussl was moved to face the Roumanians in the Vulkan range beginning in the last week of October. His four divisions battled over several high passes, all expertly defended by the Roumanians, who were now fighting for their lives after the debacle they suffered north of the Red Tower Pass to the east a month earlier. Within five days, Kneussl had reached Targu Jiu, some 25 km down the pass into Roumania. The First Army was now feeling the brunt of the German 9. Army rumbling through several southern passes. General Krafft's Alpenkorps had done some serious damage to the Alt Army, and was parallel to Kneussl in the advance into enemy territory.