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|Stefan Sarkotic was born on 4 October 1858 in his elder's house at Sinac, district Lika in Croatia. His father, Mathias Sarkotic, was a life-lonf soldier, and fought in the campaigns of 1848-1849 and 1859 in Italy, and also in Bohemia in 1866. Mathias took part in the occupation of Bosnia in 1879. In spite of a long military career and having four children, the name of his wife was never recorded and is therefore unknown.
Stefan Sarkotic followed in his father's footsteps and became a career soldier. He went to his father's local school as a boy and then was sent to study at the gymnasium at Zengg. After that, Stefan attended St. Pölten Military College and also the Wiener Neustadt Military Academy, until 1876. Sarkotic thereafter joined the Königgrätz regiment as a lieutenant in 1884. Two years later, he was sent to Mostar to become an officer in the 1. Mountain Brigade. Obst Stefan Sarkotic assumed the responsibility of chief of staff for the XII. Corps in April 1903, replacing Obst Lothar Edler von Hortstein. Sarkotic accomplished his duties until July 1907. At the start of the war, FML Sarkotic commanded the 42. Honvéd Infantry Division and he did so only until October, when he handed it over to GM Johann Graf von Salis-Seewis.
|Sarkotic as Generalmajor in 1907.||Sarkotic as Generaloberst in 1918.|
|Orders of Battle: Drina Frontier, August 1914
V. Armee, General der Infanterie L. Ritter von Frank
XIII. Korps, Gen. d. Inf. von Rhemen zu Bärensfeld
XXXVI. inf. div., Feldmlt. Czibulka
XLII. Honved inf. div., Feldmlt. von Sarkotic
|Sarkotic was appointed military governor of Bosnia-Herzegovina after General Potiorek was dismissed in December 1914. As the chief commander in the southwest after the failure of the invasions of Serbia, Sarkotic was sensitive to the South Slav question. He was a Croat and insisted on good faith reforms by both Austria and Hungary. Hungary's Premier Istvan Tisza was opposed to any concessions prior to conclusion of the war. But Sarkotic was convinced that would be too late. He believed the war was creating changes in the attitudes of the South Slavs in both the Empire and in Serbia. In spite of their differences, Tisza considered Sarkotic to be loyal and effective. Kaiser Franz Josef assured the Bosnian governor of this.
Sarkotic thought that any further effort to push for South Slav concessions might ruin whatever good feelings Tisza still had for him, and that could have political consequences. Still, he published an article titled "Meine letzten Audienzen beim Kaiser, die Südslawisch Frage," in 1915. He also wrote "Der Banjaluka-Prozess" (Berlin, 1933). His loyalty was rewarded with the promotion to Generaloberst on 17 November 1917.
GWS, 11/01 [rev. 3/05]
Orders of Battle: Balkan Front, June 1915
Shortly after Italy’s declaration of war against the Empire
Theatre of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Dalmatia, Gen. d. Inf. v. Sarkotic
Chief of Staff, Obstlt. Minnich
Foca, Genmj. Vukadinovic
Gorazde, Oberst Karpellus
Vsegrad, Obstlt. Ritt. v. Märkel
Srebrenica, Genmj. Haubert
Zwornik, Oberst Edl. v. Hauser
Bijeljina, Oberst Streith
Castelnuovo, Feldmlt. Edl. v. Weber
Mostar, Genmj. Haala
Sebenico, Kontreadm. Zaccaria
Bosnian Fortress Troops:
Sarajevo, Feldmlt. v. Rollinger
Mostar, Feldmlt. Maudry
Bocche die Cattaro, Feldmlt. Edl. v. Weber
Bileca, Genmj. Anton Andrian
Trebinje, Feldmlt. Rudolf Braun
Avtovac, Oberst Wanek
Kalinovik, Mjr. Antosch
|Sarkotic inspects troops assigned to keep the peace in Bosnia, 1918.|
|Following the death of Franz Josef, Sarkotic effectively became the pointman on South Slav affairs for Kaiser Karl. He faithfully informed the Kaiser of the increasing trend by Croats and Bosniaks in supporting South Slav unification. As governor of both Bosnia-Herzegovina and occupied Montenegro, Sarkotic reported on the "Green Cadres," Serb and Croat deserters who were supported by the peasants and effectively ruled vast stretches of rural countryside. These brigades defied government orders and distributed crude anti-Habsburg propaganda. During the early autumn 1918, Sarkotic had the unenvious job of maintaining Imperial control over practically rebellious South Slav provinces.
Tisza, no longer Premier, was dispatched to these regions to "assess the political situation" on the governments' behalf. His findings caused him to question Sarkotic's governing abilities and possibly his loyalty. In reply, Sarkotic questioned whether Vienna and Budapest had listened to him over the past three years of war. Tisza admitted that he was unfamiliar with this problem, and thought it disgraceful that Vienna (not Budapest) had neglected an obviously bad situation for so long. After the local politicians flatly rejected all of Tisza's schemes involving Bosnia-Herzegovina with Hungary, Tisza suggested that a plebiscite should be held to determine the future of the two provinces, as though such move could defer Serb nationalism. Sarkotic insisted that only the unification of Dalmatia with Croatia-Slavonia and Bosnia-Herzegovina could placate the Croats and steer them away from South Slav unity under Serbia. This implied trialism, which the Hungarians still could not endure, even by October 1918. Tisza believed that Serb-Croat hostility was too deeply ingrained to allow for such unity, and thus the Serbs would be driven to treat with the Hungarians before the Croats. Of course, it was all a fantasy.
Bulgaria's recent defeat by the Serbs and the Entente caused the Serbs to turn from any dealings with Hungary, and in fact all of the South Slavs were energized by the developments. In fact, Sarkotic was informed by Bosnian politicians that their loyalty was changing due exclusively to the changing military situation. Sarkotic was convinced that the Croats were driven into the Serbs' arms by the brusque manner of Tisza's fact-finding mission. In the end, Habsburg rule dissolved around Sarkotic, rather than collapsed, and he was out of a job.
Following the war, Sarkotic spent some time interned in Croatia, probably owing to his long service and loyalty to the Habsburgs--something the Serbs could not tolerate. After his release. Sarkotic retired to Vienna. He spent his free time involved in an anti-Serb Officers and Emigrants Group. He also vented his frustration at thing that be by authoring many letters and articles for the "Reichspost" about Croatia's problems under the aegis of the Karageorgevic dynasty. Sarkotic was also the honorary president of the Austrian Kaiserschützen Association.
Stefan Sarkotic von Lovcen died in Vienna on 16 October 1939.
|General der Infanterie Sarkotic von Lovcen in Hungarian gala, 1917.|