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Friedrich Graf von Beck-Rzikowsky
How Austria's Great Power Status Was Saved...
Friedrich Graf von Beck-Rzikowsky was born 2 March 1830 in Freiburg im Breisgau, Grand Duchy of Baden. General Beck is known primarily for rebuilding the Austrian armed forces following the ignominious defeats of 1859 and 1866.  Although his successor General Franz Conrad gets most of the credit for the rebirth of the army, it is Beck that provided the extensive groundwork for its revival.

The following timeline summarizes his military career:

     Jul 1866 Promoted to Oberst
     Jul 1867 President of the Military Chancery until Jun 1881
     May 1873 Promoted to Generalmajor
     Apr 1874 General-Adjutant to the Kaiser until Jun 1881
     Jun 1881 Chief of the General Staff until Oct 1906
     May 1878 Promoted to Feldmarschalleutnant
     Jan 1889 Promoted to Feldzeugmeister
     Oct 1906 Captain of the k.k. First Arciéren Lifeguard until Jan 1917
     Feb 1916 Promoted to Generaloberst
     Jan 1917 Retired

Beck's relative and namesake Obst Friedrich Graf von Beck-Rzikowsky was appointed chief of staff for the XI. Corps in May 1915, replacing GM Franz Riml.  However, this lasted only until July, when Obst Josef Trauttweiler Edler von Sturmheg assumed this position.

Struggling in the Tempest

Beck's first war experience was when served during the war against Sardinia in 1848 and again in 1849, as part of Radetzky's army.  He served again in 1850, during the Austrian mobilisation in Bohemia, the threat of which forced Prussia to accept the reassembly of the German Bund.  Beck returned to the Vienna garrison for the next few years, where the military kept a vigilant watch over any revolutionary activity.  During this time, he was also one of the first students admitted to the Kriegsschule, and he gratuated near the top of his class in 1854.  Then he was sent with his Corps to Moldavia and Wallachia on occupation duty.  This measure, by the way, did not involve war-like action but the rapid advance of disease throughout the countryside resulted in the deaths of well over 30,000 soldiers. 

After a mapping and geographic expedition to southern Hungary in 1857, where Beck unfortunately missed the short Montenegrin War, he was keen on taking part in the upcoming war against Sardinia and France in 1859.  His petition was accepted and he became chief of staff to General Sigismund Freiherr von Reischach.  Beck soon discovered that his division had not a single map of Piedmont, and so he personally perused bookshops and stationary stores for such maps.  By 4 June 1859, the great Battle of Magenta was underway, but Beck's division was late thanks to a breakdown in communications.  He took an active role in encouraging his troops forward, and was shot in the knee in the process.  His division played no real role in the battle, which ended in a bloody draw and Austrian forces withdrew to regroup.  Beck was enraged that he was lying on a train bound for Vienna during the most critical phase of the whole war.  The horrendous battle of Solferino, whose cruel and bloody battlefield compelled the world to sit up and take notice of the complete lack of modern military medicine, was fought and lost without him.

Preparing for a Showdown

In 1860, Beck traveled to Frankfurt to do paperwork for the Bund's military commission.  While there, he helped Austria's representative to the united German army, General Leopold Freiherr Rzikowsky von Dobrzicz.  In Frankfurt, Beck discovered the hidden war between the Prussians and the Austrians.  The latter was the recognised leader in both the Bundesrat and in the united German army.  But the Prussians were keen on replacing Austria in both.  Beck had some opportunity to work with his Prussian rivals, for during 1861, he toured the western German railway network to determine if improvements needed to be made in case of a French invasion.  Such improvements would have to be made by the Prussians, whose Rhein Provinz was the most likely route of invasion. 

The highly energetic and organised Prussian military method had a great impression on Beck, as did General Helmuth von Moltke, who became a hero of Beck's even as Moltke directed Prussian armies against Austria.  By 1862, Beck was urging a formal military convention with Hannover that would allow for the basing of Federal German troops--mostly Austrian, by his scheme--to be based along the Elbe and Weser rivers.  This would not only serve as a quick reaction against any French invasion of Germany, but also divide the western and eastern halves of Prussia should Berlin act against Austria militarily.  Hindsight shows by Hannover's victory over the Prussians at the Battle of Langensalza on 27 June 1866 that had Beck's plan been implemented, the Austro-Prussian war in 1866 (the so-called Seven Weeks' War) would have had a far different account.  Too bad for Beck that his scheme was discounted. 

But Beck was found far north of Hannover in 1864, assisting General Ludwig von Gablenz in military preparations for the war against Denmark.  After the victorious conclusion of this war in favour of the united German army, Schleswig-Holstein was temporarily administered by both Austrian and Prussia.   He rightly assumed that Prussia would attempt to annex both provinces.  Following his return to Vienna, Beck was charged by the War Ministry to create a plan of war against Prussia.  One thing remains constant about Beck from his earliest days, is that he made almost completely correct assessments of Austria's enemies and their intentions.  He proved his canny once more by assuming that the Prussians would make a gambit into Bohemia, and that the army should assemble at Gitschen.  Moltke in fact ordered his two armies to meet there in July 1866 prior to a march on Vienna. Thus was shown how in tune Beck was with Moltke.

Waging A War of Brothers

Before and during the Austro-Prussian War, Beck was a part of the general staff, and laid important groundwork for the war's prosecution.  He personally convinced the Saxons--that is, the King and Prime Minister Beust--to participate against Prussia, and he also encouraged General Benedek, the commander of the Northern army, to march to Gitschen ahead of the Prussians.  Unfortunately, Benedek was being advised by his chief of staff General Alfred von Henikstein and his operations chief Gideon von Krismanic to keep all available forces in Moravia in anticipation of a Prussian attack from Silesia, even though there was no evidence the Prussians would do such a thing; perhaps geography and lateral distance propelled their theory.  Nevertheless, Beck was proven right as the Prussians occupied Saxony and crossed into Bohemia late in June. 

A third part of the army met the Prussians between Königgrätz and Josefstadt on 2 July 1866.  In the largest single battle in history at that time, nearly half a million men clashed all day long.  By the end of the day, the Prussians had scored a tactical victory and the Austrians withdrew,  having suffered four times the casualties of the Prussians.   Beck then convinced Benedek to move the whole Northern Army out of Moravia and reorganise it north of Vienna.  This most certainly saved it from being crushed by the Prussians advancing from Bohemia and Silesia.  Beck had helped ensure the survival of an exhausted but still formidable Austrian army, but politics played a harder game and so did possible Hungarian insurrection.  Kaiser Franz Josef, humiliated and shocked by the defeat, nevertheless held out his fidelity to his loyal Saxon allies until the Prussians agreed to guarantee Saxon independence, albeit under Bismarck's own device, the North German Federation. The Kaiser signed the armistice of Nikolsburg on 22 July 1866.  Shortly thereafter, the Kaiser appointed Beust, the former Saxon Prime Minister, to be Chancellor and Foreign Minister with the aim of seeking revenge against Prussia.  The army was to be refitted for this occasion.  But could it be done in time?

Broken and Defeated, Yet Still Ambitious?

After the war, the army was incapable of dealing with the Hungarian politicians--Archduke Albrecht as commander in chief of the armed forces was notably anti-Magyar, while War Minister Franz Freiherr von John was wrapped up in sorting out the details of a defeated army--and it was up to Beck to represent the military.   He did so as the Kaiser's personal military envoy, and from the position of one who had no history of anti-Magyar sentiment (he was in Italy when Albrecht was policing post-revolutionary Budapest).  He helped to forge the compromise of 1867, which created the common army and the Landwehr and Honved national militias for Austria and Hungary, respectively.  Universal conscription on the Prussian line was Beck's first programme, but he was in constant opposition to the new War Minister, General Franz Freiherr Kuhn von Kuhnenfeld. 

Although Kuhn was capable and both he and Beck were aware of the dire straights the Austrian army was in, Beck's interest in the Prussian system was not palatable to Kuhn, particularly since this involved making the General Staff independent of the War Ministry.  Kuhn played havoc with the general staff's functions, and even defanged Archduke Albrecht by eliminating the title "commander in chief" and renaming him "inspector general" which was subservient to the War Ministry. 

Beck and Archduke Albrecht fell toward one another following this.  Beck was now head of the military chancellery and although he understood the necessity of Kuhn's trimming of the bureaucracy of the general staff to make it streamlined for war, he did not approve of the War Ministry's own bureaucracy dictating to the general staff.  Thus, Inspector General Archduke Albrecht was expected to submit drafts of all his reports to Kuhn, but he was also supposed to be able to confer independently with the Kaiser on war issues when necessary.

Kuhn pushed his perogatives through by 1870 but the events of the Franco-Prussian War unraveled his reforms.  Kuhn urged total mobilisation not only against Prussia but also Russia, whom he complained was allied to Prussia and would attack Austria should they aid France.  However, his beautiful bureaucracy was unable to effect even a partial mobilisation, and chaos ensued across the Empire.  The Kaiser was appalled by the requisitions demanded by Kuhn to move a gigantic army into place.  But these procurements were excessive and the gigantic army did not exist. 

This, plus the horrible performance of the French against the Prussians, convinced the Kaiser and his ministers to remain aloof from the conflict.  Kuhn was made to look a fool after his boasts of achievement.  Although he had started reforming a defeated army, clearly someone had to take up the task and continue the work.  Kuhn remained for several more years, trying to improve all facets of the army's readiness and mobilisation.

War in the War Ministry

Beck constantly fought Kuhn and wrote endless memoranda to the Kaiser urging for a restoration of an independent general staff as the prime objective of the reforms.  The Archduke Albrecht supported Beck's position and harangued the War Minister in front of the Kaiser several times.  His reports, which he sent to the Kaiser independent of the War Ministry as Beck had wanted, often pointed out failures and issues that Kuhn overlooked, such as the poor condition of the Roumanian recruits in 1872 (described by Albrecht as Kuhn's "sickly, weak, elderly soldiers"). 

In 1874, Kuhn finally resigned his office and was replaced by Alexander von Koller, who was handpicked by Albrecht as the best man to be War Minister.  Freiherr von John was asked to be the chief of the general staff, but he ran into trouble as Beck rewrote new guidelines for the role of this position.  It was completely different from what he had remembered in the 1860s, and it was a tough fight with Koller on one side and Albrecht and Beck on the other; the problem was, Koller made the general staff independent as Beck had wanted, but John's plans and expectations were not compatible with Kuhn's war ministry.  In effect, the army would have been paralysed from the top.  But John eventually accepted Beck's arguments and remained subordinate to Koller. 

It is strange that Beck was playing Kuhn's game after Kuhn was long gone, but that would not last long.  Koller and John worked out the details for a methodical separation of the general staff from the aegis of the war ministry, and then John died in 1876 as he climbed the steps of the War Ministry.

New Challenges--But is the Army Ready?

During this time, Beck was kept occupied with events in the Balkans.  Montenegro involved itself in a war with Turkey when a Turkish diplomat was killed in that country in late 1874.  Beck drew up war plans for an invasion of the surrounding provinces, citing mortal danger to Austrian control of Dalmatia and the Adriatic sea should the rebels be victorious.   Beck was also clever enough to convince the Kaiser to visit Dalmatia late in 1875, which had a positive effect on the Slavs in Dalmatia as well as in Montenegro and Bosnia.

Soon after, Herzegovina rose in rebellion and the rest of Bosnia followed.  It turned out that the Montenegrins were crushed, the Bosnians horribly massacred, and the Serbians, who attempted to liberate Bosnia to the horror of Beck, were flung back to Belgrade.  This series of events preceded greater conflict to follow, of which Beck was fully aware.  It happened that although Beck was mistrustful of the Slavs of Turkey, he believed the sympathies of Austrian Slavs for their brethren could be turned to Vienna's favour, and so he requested of Koller additional divisions to beef up Dalmatia in preparation for an invasion of Bosnia as the liberator. 

Then in 1876, the Bulgars rose in rebellion and the massacres of them by the Turks involved the Russians.   After Turkey refused to push forth reforms demanded by Russia, the Tsar declared war, and suddenly the entire southern front of Austria-Hungary was in danger.  Naturally, the events were made that much more challenging by the death of Freiherr von John and then Koller's resignation on health grounds.  Their successors, Artur Graf Bylandt-Rheydt as War minister and Anton Freiherr von Schönfeld as chief of the general staff,  were basically impotent for the time being.  That left Beck and Archduke Albrecht as the experts in command. 

As the Russians advanced against the Turks in spring and summer 1877, both expected the imminent occupation of Bosnia by their army.  But the siege of Plevna stopped everything.  Things were so slow, that Austrian Generals in Croatia-Slavonia, formerly poised to invade, went on summer holidays.  As the winter came upon the still mobilised troops all along the Turkish and Serbian frontiers, Beck began addressing the possibility of a Russian double-cross and war with them. 

He drew up the likelihood of simultaneous war with Italy as well.  Ultimately, he envisioned an apocalyptic struggle against Russia and Roumania, Serbia and Montenegro, and even Italy, bringing war to Austria round the entire frontier from Krakau to the Stelvio Pass.  His only hopes for victory lay in standing on the heights all along the frontiers with the smaller neighbours while the exhausted Russian army was attacked in full and brought to defeat.  Beck was unsure of the army's ability to pull this off, though. 

He preferred to let the skilled Foreign Minister, Gyula Andrassy, to tangle with the Russians diplomatically.  The Foreign Minister called for a rewrite of the Russians' excessive Treaty of San Stefano, and the Congress of Berlin created a new order in the Balkans that, although in itself no solution to the core problem of Turks ruling over Christians, at least was a solution to the anxieties of Austria and Great Britain.

The Peacekeepers Who Went To War

By this Congress was Austria given the right to invade and occupy Bosnia and Herzegovina with the aim of restoring order.  Beck was given the task of drawing up the plans and calculating expenditures.  He also drew up the primary objectives without consulting either the War Ministry or Archduke Albrecht.  General Philippovic, who commanded the invasion, was ordered to seize key cities and establish order in a fashion of humane peacekeepers. 

Beck was dallying with politics in this, but he realised the army was in no condition to wage a guerrilla war with the insurgents.  Philippovic marched into Bosnia on 29 July 1878, but soon encountered Bosniak insurgents outside Travnik who cleverly avoided direct contact with the Austrian XIII. Corps but instead attacked the communications and rearguard.  It was Beck's nightmare.  Faced with a desperate situation, Philippovic resolved to reach Sarajevo and await reinforcements.  He finally occupied the capital on 19 August 1878, but the whole surrounding countryside was in rebellion.  Philippovic the peacekeeper they did not see.   Nor did they give General Jovanovic a moment's peace as he advanced north from Dalmatia at the same time--he did not reach Mostar, the capital of Herzegovina, until 5 August 1878, nine days of strife for a normal three-day march. 

To the north, a frightful uprising around Donja Tuzla prevented FML László Szápáry from reaching the relatively close town.  As commander of the 20. Division, he met the rebellion with resources allotted for policing the town and the main road, not for a conflagration through every mountain defile.   Szápáry was forced to hold the road open within sight of Tuzla but refrained from making any engagements until strongly reinforced.  Given the command of the newly-formed III. Corps (three divisions strong), Szápáry then forced his way south and achieved all of the objectives brilliantly. He was awarded the Military Cross of the Order of Maria Theresa in 1879.  However, Szápáry  never recovered from his experiences in Bosnia, and died of an aneurism in 1883, aged 51.  As a side note, his son was Friedrich Szápáry von Szápár, ambassador to Russia at the time of the World War.

Beck had made the error of arguing for reduced military forces in the invasion of Bosnia, so as to appear less like conquerors to the politicians in Vienna and around the world.  He soon regretted this politicking, as it damaged his reputation among both military and political figures.  The pacification of Bosnia-Herzegovina began with some 150,000 troops sent into the countryside. 

The truth was, Philippovic as the commander in Sarajevo was aggravating the situation rather than solving it.  The commander was rabidly anti-Moslem and loathed the Hungarian soldiers serving him, thus causing both the native population and elements of his army to work against him; he also played politics in his reports to the Warr Chancellery.  So, on 31 October, Beck visited Philippovic and dismissed him.  Beck returned to Vienna and worked straight away on reform in the provinces.  The extremely long time the pacification of the two provinces was proving a great embarrassment to the Austrians.  

Beck was responsible for the creation of the post-war administration of the two provinces, starting with their union into one political entity, and ending with their effective incorporation into Austria-Hungary, though they were supposed to be Turkish provinces.  By the time the pacification was completed and the new administration installed, nearly 300,000 troops had been sent in, 80 engagements fought, and well over 5,000 casualties reported.  The monetary cost was astronomical compared to what the War Ministry had originally estimated, and more excessive than what Beck himself thought possible.

GWS, rev. 11/02 [rev. 12/03]
A Life-long Dream, But with Such Troubles!

The whole Bosnian imbroglio did serve to make Beck the primary military figure in the Empire, however.  From 1878, he alone was considered the only man capable of bringing true reform to an army that, according to its poor performance in the Bosnian mission, still suffered from its earlier problems.  By March 1881, chief of staff von Schönfeld was no longer effective and the Kaiser requested Beck to accept the appointment. 

Beck did not immediately dive into this post, for he himself knew there were still serious limitations in the office that needed to be overcome so he could bring true reforms to the army.  He therefore set down a list of conditions, and they were formidable indeed.  However, the Kaiser and Archduke Albrecht both conceded that Beck was the man for the job, no matter his demands, and accepted his conditions; Albrecht noted that he expected full cooperation from Beck as his chief of staff for all aspects of war planning, but the General was free to move his reforms forward in peacetime as he envisioned them. 

On 1 June 1881, Beck became chief of the general staff, a position he would hold for an unprecedented length of time.  During this period, reform of the general staff along Prussian lines--particularly those of General Helmuth von Moltke--would be his priority.  For this, Beck was called a loose cannon by the ministers, who had grown accustomed to the Generals bowing to the will of the ministerial bureaucracy.  And, some would even call him a German spy because of his admiration for the Prussians.

Fixing the Army to Remain Great

From 1882, Beck worked feverishly on reforming officer training, critical to the success of all other reforms.  He also played up the importance of active war games, and these so-called imperial manoeuvres grew in size each year so that the opposing sides were Corps-sized by 1884.  In both 1893 and 1905, the war games were so large, they were called "army manoeuvres."  They involved multiple Corps, which was something new in history.  These giant wargames were effectively mobilisations and not only cost too much but they also caused international problems as Austria's neighbours reacted to the huge build-ups with much suspicion and secret mobilisations of their own. 

The reforms that Beck pushed through were on the Prussian lines for reasons more than his own opinion.  Germany was Austria's secret military ally against Russia from 1878, and this required Beck to cooperate with the Germans on many strategic military issues.  His dozens of trips to Berlin and Zossen during his long tenure allowed him to acquire full understanding of the mechanics behind the German general staff and the most efficient methods of army mobilisation and organisation. 

Beck was the man for this job.  He was always an admirer of the Prussian system, while Archduke Albrecht loathed the Prussians with a consuming passion.  When Beck discussed common plans with Germany for a war against Russia, Albrecht was shocked and attempted to have the Kaiser sign up the Three Emperors' League as a military convention to prevent the Austrians and Prussians from getting too close.  The Kaiser had initially agreed with Albrecht's fears of a war with Russia being precipitated through such conversations with the Germans.  However, by the end of 1881, he cautiously allowed Beck to investigate the matter. 

The plan that Beck drew up was to be Austria's masterpiece for a two-stroke annihilation of Russia's primary forces in Congress Poland by German and Austrian attacks from East Prussia and Eastern Galicia, respectively.  This plan--much more developed and ingrained in the Austrian general staff than the later Schlieffen Plan was in Germany--was maintained by Beck's successor,
Franz Conrad von Hötzendorf, and actually put into action as "Plan R" in August 1914.   Beck and the German chief of staff, von Waldersee, drew up additional plans for most war contingencies that would activate the Dual Alliance of 1878.  Waldersee was rabidly anti-Russian and pushed for war against Russia throughout his tenure in Berlin.  Bismarck managed to rebuff him every time, but contemporaries believe his effect on soon-to-be-Kaiser Wilhelm's military views was not inconsiderable.

Throughout the 1880s, another majour project of Beck's was the so-called territorialisation of the army.  He believed cost could be drastically reduced and training improved by stationing recruits in their own provinces instead of shuttling them around as had been the tradition.  Albrecht was totally against this, as he argued that Magyar soldiers were unlikely to shoot down Magyar rioters.  Albrecht remembered the revolution vividly--Beck was concerned with the bottom line.  Expenditures were to be controlled and this programme was a sure way to do it.  Furthermore, he considered that the next war would come from without rather than from within.  A revolution would occur on Austria's military defeat, he reasoned.  (His position was proven in late 1918.)  Beck managed to override Albrecht's reservations by adopting a plan of Corps territorialism.  

The Empire was thus divided into sixteen Corps as Albrecht had wanted, but Beck used these Corps as fundamental units of territorial recruitment and training.  Some Corps were more important than others.  The Ragusa and Sarajevo Corps were considered unreliable, since their Bosniak populations were not Austrian or Hungarian citizens.  The Lemberg and Przemysl Corps, by contrast, lay in a strategic zone where special rules applied.  Beck spent years developing these Corps in preparation for war with Russia. 

The new system was tested as it was being put into effect, thanks to the Bulgars.  In 1885, a revolution broke out in Philippopolis, capital of Eastern Rumelia.  There, the Turkish governor was overthrown and the Bulgarian prince was declared governor.  King Milan of Serbia, who signed a secret alliance with Austria, believed the plot was Russian-inspired (nothing could be further from the truth) and that a dangerous reconstruction of "Greater Bulgaria" was afoot to Serbia's hazard.  He therefore declared war on Bulgaria and marched on Sofia.  But the Bulgars inflicted a serious defeat on the Serbs and they marched on Belgrade. 

Beck mobilised the army and an ultimatum was delivered to the Bulgars, who stopped their advance.  Although the mobilisation involved only a few Corps, it was pulled off quite smoothly compared to previous ones, and Beck was confident in his programme.  Meanwhile, the Hungarians were clamouring for war against Russia as St. Petersburg embroiled itself in a plot in 1886 to overthrow its rebellious protege, Prince Alexander of Bulgaria.  The spectre of war with Russia was ever so close, and Beck worried over a possible Russian strike against the Lemberg Corps in an effort to throw a wrench into his plan of attack.  Happily, this event never happened, and by the next year, Germany and France were on the edge of war, thus bringing Berlin to be the one to activate the secret treaty and in a theatre Beck had not even considered.

GWS, 10/02 [rev. 12/03]
The Peaceful Years of Beck's Reign

The latter period of Beck's reign coincided with improvements in technology of transportation.  He was constantly revising timetables to comply with the changes.  He also enacted the military law of 1889, which set the standard for recruitment for the next 23 years.  It served the purpose at the time, and even beyond Beck's tenure.  But the call-up was still far below that of the other continental powers.  It was a delicate balance of what was necessary to maintain Great Power status, and what was affordable to the War ministry in the budget wranglings.   Beck had no stomach to fight with the delegations the way his successor would have to each year. 
By 1895, Albrecht had died, and it was generally assumed the successor to the throne would be the commander in chief of the armed forces, be that the Kaiser's brother, Archduke Otto, or a year later, his son,
Archduke Franz Ferdinand. No matter who, General Beck as chief of the general staff was the centre of military power in the Empire.  The last years of Beck's administration were relatively quiet but there were signs that change was in the air.  Technology had spiraled beyond Beck's reckoning and the improvements in transportation and communication meant that new reforms were necessary.  The army's weaponry, particularly heavy guns, were outdated and new designs were required.  New naval construction brought new theories of combined army-navy cooperation that Beck had rarely considered. 

When Franz Ferdinand attended manoeuvres on the Dalmatian coast in 1903, he witnessed a marines landing that was so incompetent and confused, that he immediately drew up a long memorandum to the Kaiser that outlined the plain deterioration of the armed forces.  Basically, the army of 1903 was the same as the army of 1883, which meant it was seriously lagging behind the rest of Europe, which was militarizing at a rate never before seen.  Beck was charged with making the changes, but in his age and station, apparently he wasn't considered effective enough for Archduke Franz Ferdinand.  He began pressing the Kaiser for Beck's replacement as a matter of expediency.  Although the Kaiser was deeply attached to Beck, and rightly credited him with rescuing the army so that Austria-Hungary was still a Great Power, he inevitably bowed to the reality of modern times, and accepted the suggestion that Beck be replaced by someone younger, more energetic, and more theoretic. 

Franz Conrad von Hötzendorf from Archduke Franz Ferdinand's own "shadow cabinet" proved to be a worthy replacement for the great Beck.  General Beck retired from the general staff in 1906, after holding the position for an astounding 25 years.  This was not unusual for the Kaiser's other ministers of the period, but for that all-important and highly active position, it was quite amazing.  More so, considering that Franz Josef placed his army as the thing most dear to him as Kaiser.
The End of a Great General

Following his retirement from the general staff, Beck was appointed Captain of the k.k. First Arciéren Lifeguard. Interestingly enough, when Beck finally retired from this post, his replacement was none other than General Conrad, who had stormed into his general staff job more than 11 years earlier.

In addition to his long military service, Beck was a Geheimer Rat (Privy Councilor) to the Kaiser as well as a life time member of the Austrian House of Lords, the upper chamber of the Reichsrat.  Beck had to wait a decade before he was elevated in rank to Generaloberst, and thus in similar rank to his former Prussian counterparts.  (The rank was created in 1916 as more Germans began serving in the Austrian armies, alongside but really above their Austrian comrades.) 

Friedrich Graf von Beck-Rzikowsky died on 9 February 1920 in Vienna.

GWS, 11/01 [rev. 12/03]