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Alexander Freiherr von Krobatin
Alexander Krobatin was born on 12 September 1849 in Olmütz, Moravia.  He was Imperial Minister of war during the July Crisis.  He was an integral member of the so-called "war party" and urged for army reform and for preventive war as much as his compatriot, Chief of Staff General Conrad von Hötzendorf. When the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand occurred, Krobatin seconded Conrad's calls for war at every turn.  Krobatin as Minister of war was one of the first Generals to be promoted to the newly created rank of Generaloberst in February 1916.  

There was great responsibility in being the Minister of War--chief among them ensuring the constant flow of supplies to an army at war.  The first reaction of Krobatin upon the declaration of war by Roumania was to address the sudden halt of all grain shipments on 27 August 1916.  Roumania had taken a lot of heat from the Entente by supplying grain and petroleum to the Central Powers, but now that the spigot was shut off, the Roumanians and the rest of the Entente figured that Austria and Germany would soon starve out of the war. 

As this directly affected the army, Krobatin laid out a draft proposal to the Council of Ministers on 9 September 1916, which would have given the army unlimited powers to requisition foodstuffs and mete out justice against hoarders.  Chancellor
Josef Stürgkh and Premier Istvan Tisza both rejected this scheme as being dictatorial, but Krobatin did not relent in his demands.   He was faced on 16 October 1916 with a proposal by the Council of Ministers to reduce the allocations of grain to 8.4 million quintals.  Krobatin pointed out that the daily ration was 462 grammes of flour, totalling 11 million quintals of grain.  A loss of more than 3 million quintals was devastating to him, and he urged the Ministers to find alternate sources of grain lest the war effort grind to a halt completely. 

This blow was taken in stride, however, and was never met by an alternative source of grain.  In 1917 and 1918, ccupied Serbia produced more grain than occupied Roumania, as the latter was only recently recovering from the wounds of war.  The soldiers on the frontline made do with 300 grammes of flour in summer 1918, and Etappen soldiers made do with only 200.  This was no longer Krobatin's worry.

Krobatin left the Ministry of War in early 1917, but he was called back to active service in April 1917 and placed in command of the X. Army in the Tirol, taking over from General
Scotti. He was to remain in this command through the end of the war, part of Army Group Conrad.  Krobatin was honoured with the rank of Feldmarschall on 5 November 1917, shortly after the Caporetto Offensive. The following is a timeline of Krobatin's military career:

    
1865 Attends Artillerieakademie until 1869
    
Sep 1869 Promoted to Leutnant
    
Oct 1873 Promoted to Oberleutnant
    
May 1879 Promoted to Hauptmann 2. Kl.
     Nov 1882 Promoted to Hauptmann 1. Kl.
    
1877 Attends the Technisch Militarisch Akademie until 1885
    
1885 Truppendienst until 1890
    
May 1889 Promoted to Major
    
1890 Head of the Artillery Kadett Schule until 1895
    
May 1892 Promoted to Oberstleutnant
    
May 1895 Promoted to Oberst
    
1895 Commander of Korps Artillery Regiment 1
    
1896 Head of 7. Section of the RKM until 1904
    
Nov 1900 Promoted to Generalmajor
    
1904 Sections Chief im RKM until 1912
    
May 1905 Promoted to Feldmarschalleutnant
    
Nov 1910 Promoted to Feldzeugmeister
    
Dec 1912 k.u.k minister of war until April 1917
    
Feb 1916 Promoted to Generaloberst
    
April 1917 Commands X. Army until October 1918
    
Nov 1917 Promoted to Feldmarschall
    
Oct 1918 Commands Heeresgruppe Tirol until November 1918

In addition, Krobatin was an Honorary Doctor of Technical Science at the Vienna Technical Institute, Honorary President of the Kaiser Karl War Welfare Fund, and an honorary member of the "Viribus Unitis" Vienna Riding Association.  Alexander Krobatin died on 28 September 1933 in Vienna.

GWS, 8/01
Alexander Krobatin, the k.u.k. War Minister, visits Neusandez in Galicia, shortly after its recapture by the II. Army in spring, 1915.
Enemy Portrait:  Vladimir Alexandrovich Sukhomlinov
General Sukhomlinov was born on 4 August, 1848, in Kovno (Kaunas).  He was the Russian War Minister, and chiefly responsible for urging the full mobilisation of the Russian Army against both Austria-Hungary and Germany, in complete contravention to the assurances by the Russian Foreign Ministry that such an eventuality would not happen.  The result was that Germany declared war on Russia on 1 August 1914 and the Austro-Serbian War was expanded into the Russo-German War.
Orders of Battle:  Tirol Front, early November 1917
Immediately preceding the Caporetto Offensive
Conrad Group, FM Conrad von Hötzendorf
10. Armee, GO v. Krobatin
          94. inf. div., FML v. Lawroski
     Group Lesachtal, Oberst v. Fasser
     Group Hordt, GdI v. Hordt
Orders of Battle:  Tirol Front, mid-June 1918
Immediately preceding the Piave Offensive
Army Group Conrad, FM Conrad von Hötzendorf
10. Armee, FM von Krobatin
     Erzherzog Peter Ferdinand Group, GdI
Erzherzog Peter Ferdinand
     Rayon I, Oberst von Lempruch
         1. inf. div., FML Metzger
          2. Schützen inf. div., GM Lemesic
     XX. Korps, GdI Kalser von Maasfeld
          49. inf. div., FML von Steinhart
          Riwa det., FML Kalser von Maasfeld
     XXI. Korps, GdI Lütgendorf
          19. FML von Elmar
          56. Schützen div., FML Kroupa
     XIV. Edelweiss Korps, GdI
Verdross von Drossberg
          Kaiser Jäger div., GM
Felix Prinz zu Schwarzenberg
Orders of Battle:  Tirol Front, mid-October 1918
Immediately preceding the final Italian Offensive
Army Group Erzherzog Josef, GO Erzherzog Josef
X. Armee, FM v. Krobatin
     V. Korps,
Erzherzog Peter Ferdinand
          22. Schützen div., FML Müller
     XX. Korps, GdI Kalser v. Maasfeld
          49. inf. div., FML v. Steinhart
          Riwa det., FML v. Schiesser
     XXI. Korps, GdI Lütgendorf
          3. kav. div., FML v. Kopecek
          56. Schützen div., FML Kroupa
     XIV. Edelweiss Korps, GdI
Verdross
          Kaiser Jäger div., GM
Felix Prinz zu Schwarzenberg
          19. inf. div., FML Elmar
          res., Edelweiss inf. div., FML v. Alpenbach
Krobatin, the diligent Minister of War
Explanation of the Retreat from Serbia, August 1914

General Krobatin's Official Announcement from the Austrian Ministry of War, late August 1914:

"Since, owing to the intervention of Russia into our dispute with Serbia, we find it necessary to concentrate our entire force for the great combat in the north, the war against Serbia must be considered only as a "Strafexpedition" (punitive expedition) which, for the same reason, has become a matter of secondary interest.  In spite of that, and both in view of the general situation and of the false news which has been circulated by the enemy, an offensive action had been judged opportune.  Yet, also for the above-mentioned reason, this operation was limited to a short incursion into the enemy's territory, after the successful accomplishment of which it was necessary to return to an attitude of expectancy, in adjourning the offensive to a more favorable occasion.

The offensive executed by part of our troops was an action replete with bravery and heroism.  Its effect was to draw upon us the entire Serbian army, the attacks of which, despite a great numerical superiority, had no results, thanks to the heroism of our troops.  The fact that our troops in part suffered heavy losses should not astonish us, for our enemy possessed a numerical superiority and was, in addition, fighting for its existence.  Thus when our troops, who had penetrated a long way into Serbian territory, received the orde to regain their positions on the Drina and on the Save, they left an enemy completely enfeebled on the field of battle."
Explanation for the Fall of Przemysl, March 1915

The Surrender of Przemysl as explained by the General Krobatin, k.u.k. Minister of War.  (For a more complete description of the siege of Przemysl, see the page on General
Hermann Kusmanek.)

"The garrison of the fortress held Przemysl to the very last hour that human forces could do so in the military sense of the word.  General Kusmanek only surrendered when such a course was dictated by feelings of humanity and military consideration.  On the day of teh surrender, there was not one morsel of food in the fortress, and no breakfast could be supplied to the men. 

"Events developed around Przemysl more quickly than was expected.  The last sortie officially reported was directed toward the east, and was undertaken not with the view of effecting the relief of the fortress, but to find out if the surrounding Russian force was as strong towards Grodek and Lemberg as in the other directions, and whether the Russians had fortified their positions in the Grodek direction, as well as to the south and west of the fortress.  It was ascertained during the sorties that this was the case.  The Russians, in fact, built counter-fortifications all around the fortress, even in the direction of their own territory, preparing for all eventualities.  In fact, the last reports coming from the fortress all confirmed the report that the Russians built a new fortress all around the besieged territory.  The fortifications were so constructed as to constitute an impenetrable obstacle to inward attacks, just the counter-form of the fortifications and defensive works of the fortress itself.  The Russian ring was constructed exclusively against Przemysl with unparalleled skill and rapidity, and with all available means of modern technic.

"On the west, a well-fortified defending line and on the south a large Russian army stood in the way of any attempt to relieve Przemysl.  In addition, the roads leading towards Russia were well fortified, as the last sortie proved.  This was the military situation of the fortress during the last weeks.

"With regard to provisions the fortress was well-supplied at the outset, but stores were consumed at the time of the first investment, which lasted until October 11th.  On that date the fortress was relieved, and General Borvevich entered the fortress with his army.  The railway lines had been blown up by the retreating Russians.  On the Galician roads, it was impossible to transport anything at that time, and this fact obliged us to provision the army fighting to the east of Przemysl from the stores of the fortress, the army being cut off from all other points of supply.

"It was thus necessary to draw provisions from the ample stores of Przemsyl in the hope that as soon as the railway line was constructed the stores could be replaced.  The railway line was reconstructed, and October 23rd, the first trains began to move towards the fortress.

"At the end of ten days, however, and before the deficiencies could be made good, Przemysl was invested anew.  At this period, the situation in North Poland made it necessary for us to withdraw our flank in Galicia.  During the ten days at our disposal, the transport of ammunition took first place.  The question of provisioning the fortress appearing at that time to be a secondary matter; when eventually food supplies were dispatched to Przemysl, it was too late.

"During the first days of the investment, in November, General Kusmanek took stock of the available quantity of foodstuffs, and drew up a scale of rations.  He took great care that neither officers nor men should get more than the minimum of everything.  For breakfast, they had only tea, for their midday meal a small piece of meat and a half a pound of bread, and in the evening tea again, wit hsome bread.  To add to the meat supply, thousands of horses were slaughtered, which was all the more necessary on account of the shortage in fodder.  Later on, this minimum was further reduced, so that the men of the garrison were on almost starvation diet for the last two months of the siege.

"It has been said that in some quarters that flying machines and dirigibles might have been used in bringing in supplies, but this idea was excluded from the beginning.  Such flour or meat as could have been thus brought in would only have sufficed a few hundred men for a few days, and to have made any appreciable difference all the aëroplanes and dirigibles of the world would have had to have been employed daily.  The commander of the fortress vetoed the idea that certain members of the garrison should receive food by this means whilst the rest put up with the rations available in the fortress.  Even the game shot by some of the officers was not allowed to be brought in, but was cooked and eaten in the hunting field.  The aëroplanes only brought in letters, medicines, and material for the wireless telegraphy. 

"The food supply grew daily more and more scanty, until the morning of the 22nd there was not a particle of bread in the stores, not a pound of meat or flour available, so that the commander of the fortress decided to surrender.

"The sortie above referred to had no effect whatever but soon after this the Russian besieging army began a violent attack from the north and east with the object of ascertaining what powers of resistance the famished and exhausted garrison still possessed.  How our poor soldiers could bear the brunt of attacks is a mystery, but General Tamàssy's Honvéds succeeded in repulsing them.  These weak and famished soldiers had courage and enthusiasm enough to face the onslaught of the healthy, well-fed Russians, and succeeded in repulsing them from beneath the fortress.  True, this was their last effort.

"After this battle, which lasted seven hours, General Kusmanek and his staff saw that another sortie was impossible, the investing ring being too strong for even a well-fed army to break through."
Victory on the Dunajec, May 1915

Krobatin's report on the advance from the Dunajec line, 13 May 1915.

"From January to the middle of April the Russians vainly exerted themselves to break through to Hungary, but they completely failed with heavy losses.  Thereupon the time had come to crush the enemy in a common attack with a full force of the combined troops of both empires.

"A victory at Tarnow and Gorlice freed West Galicia from the enemy and caused the Russian fronts on the Nida and in the Carpathians to give way.  In a ten days' battle the victorious troops beat the Russian III. and VIII. Armies to annihilation, and quickly covered the ground from the Dunajec and Beskids to the San River--130 kilometres (nearly 81 miles) of territory.

"From May 2nd to 12th the prisoners taken numbered 143,500, while 100 guns and 350 machine guns were captured, besides the booty already mentioned.  We suppressed small detachments of the enemy scattered in the woods in the Carpathians.

"Near Odvzechowa the entire staff of the Russian 48. Division of Infantry, including General Kornilov, surrendered.  The best indication of the confusion of the Russian Army is the fact that our IX. Corps captured in the last few days Russians of fifty-one various regiments.  The quantity of captured Russian war material is piled up and has not yet been enumerated.

"North of the Vistula the Austro-Hungarian troops are advancing across Stopnica.  The German troops have captured Kielce.  East of Uzsok Pass the German and Hungarian troops took several Russian positions on the heights and advanced to the south of Turka, capturing 4,000 prisoners.  An attack is proceeding here and in the direction of Skole.  In southeast Galicia strong hostile troops across Horodenka."
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