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Archduke Josef
August [von Alcsút]
The Archdukes Must Learn the Art of War

Archduke Josef August was born on 9 August 1872 in Alcsút, Hungary.  He was the oldest son of Archduke Josef Karl Ludwig and Princess Clothilde of Sachsen-Coburg-Gotha.  He was also the grandson of the famous Hungarian Palatine, Archduke Josef, and by this association with Hungary was his branch of the family often called the "Hungarian Habsburgs." 

He was married on 15 November 1893 to Augusta von Bayern, and had two sons and two daughters by this union.  It is rather fitting that Josef ended up being governor of Hungary before the revolution of 1918 just as his grandfather was responsible for Hungary before the revolutions of 1848.  Archduke Josef's grandfather was a son of Kaiser Leopold, who was also the common ancestor of all the Archdukes who were serving in the military during WWI.  Josef began his eminent military career in 1902 when he enlisted in the Hungarian territorial reserve, simultaneously studying law at Budapest University.

Josef was one of the few Archdukes to maintain a high position in the army through the whole war.  He started as a Feldmarschalleutnant in command of the 31. infantry division under General
Tersztyanszky's IV. Corps.  He was replaced in this capacity by FML Kasimir Freiherr von Lütgendorf in late October 1914.  Then, Josef ascended to command the VII. Corps on 18 November 1914, succeeding FML Andreas von Fail-Griessler. He was elevated to GdK and gave up command of the VII. Corps to General Georg von Schariczer on 22 November 1916, the day Kaiser Franz Josef died.  

On  2 December 1916, Josef succeeded newly-crowned
Kaiser Karl as commander of the renamed Army Front Erzherzog Josef, which guarded the Moldavian front following Roumania's defeat.  He remained there until 15 January 1918, when the Front was reorganised in anticipation of the Peace Treaty with the bolsheviki. 

The Archduke returned to the Italian Front and was given command of the Army Group Erzherzog Josef on 15 January 1918, which was later the right wing of the Piave Offensive in July 1918.  He also took personal command of the newly organised 6. Army at this time, and held it until 15 July 1918, when the Piave Offensive was called off following its failure to achieve breakthrough.  General
Schönburg-Hartenstein then replaced him as commander of the 6. Army, but nevertheless, the Archduke Josef remained in command of his Army Front until war's end.  He was promoted to Feldmarschall on 24 October 1918, on the very day of the Battle of Vittorio Veneto caved in his whole front. 

Following this enormous tragedy, Archduke Josef was dispatched not to Italy to save the war effort, but to Budapest, to save the monarchy from total collapse. Following the Orders of Battle is a full narrative of the Archduke's role in the chaos that was post-war Hungary.

GWS, 10/01 [rev. 6/05]
Orders of Battle:  Vojvodina, early August 1914
Immediately preceding the transfer of the II. Armee to Galicia

2. Armee,
General der Kavallerie Eduard von Böhm-Ermolli
     IV. Korps, Gen. d. Kav.
Tersztyanszky von Nadas
          31. inf. div., Feldmarschalleutnant Erzherzog Josef
Orders of Battle:  Volhynian Front, end of August 1914
Following the arrival of the II. Armee in Galicia

2. Armee,
Gen. d. Kav. von Böhm-Ermolli
     IV. Korps, Gen. d. Kav.
Tersztyanszky von Nadas
          31. inf. div., Feldmarschalleutnant Erzherzog Josef
Orders of Battle:  Galician Front, early January 1915
Immediately preceding the Battles for the Carpathians

3. Armee,
General der Infanterie Boroevic von Bojna
     VII. Korps, Gen. d. Kav. Erzherzog Josef
          17. inf. div., Generalmajor
Aurel v. le Beau
          20. Honved inf. div., Genmj.
          1. kav. div., Feldmlt. Peteani von Steinberg
Orders of Battle:  Galician Front, early May 1915
Immediately preceding the Dunajec offensive
Armee, Gen. d. Inf. von Boroevic
VII. Korps, Gen. d. Kav. Erzherzog Josef
   Chief of Staff, Oberst Eisner-Bubna
        1. kav. div., Genmj. Freiherr v. Leonhardi
                   6. kav. brig., Oberst v. Mouillard
                   7. kav. brig., Genmj. Chev. de Ruiz
         17. inf. div., Genmj.
v. le Beau
                   33. inf. brig., Oberst v. Pacor
                   34. inf. brig., Oberst Frh. v. Henneberg
                   17. field art. brig., Oberst Zagar
         20. Honvéd inf. div., Genmj.
v. Nagy
                    39. Honvéd inf. brig., Oberst Stadler
                    81. Honvéd inf. brig., Genmj. Perneczky
                    20. field art. brig., Oberst Pohl
Orders of Battle:  Isonzo Front, mid-October 1915
Immediately following the combined offensive against Serbia

5. Armee,
Gen. d. Inf. Boroevic von Bojna (Küstenland)
     VII. Korps, Gen. d. Kav. Erzherzog Josef
          20. Honved inf. div., Genmj.
von Lukachich
          17. inf. div., Feldmlt. von Gelb
          106. Landsturm div., Feldmlt. Kletter
Orders of Battle:  Isonzo Front, mid-March 1916
Immediately preceding the Austrian offensive against Italy

5. Armee,
Gen. d. Inf. Boroevic von Bojna
     II. detachment, VII. Korps, Gen. d. Kav. Erzherzog Josef
          20. Honved inf. div., Genmj.
von Lukachich
          17. inf. div., Feldmlt. von Gelb
          106. Landsturm div., Feldmlt. Kletter
Orders of Battle:  Isonzo Front, mid-August 1916
Immediately preceding Roumania's declaration of war on Austria

5. Armee,
Generaloberst Boroevic von Bojna
     VIII. Korps, Gen. d. Kav. Erzherzog Josef
          20. Honved inf. div., Genmj.
von Lukachich
          17. inf. div., Feldmlt. von Gelb
          9. inf. div., Feldmlt.
Orders of Battle:  Galician Front, mid-July 1917
Immediately preceding the Brussilov Offensive (Kerensky Offensive)

Army Front Erzherzog Josef,
Generaloberst Erzherzog Josef
1. K.u.K. Armee, Generaloberst von Rohr
     XXIV. Deutsch res. Korps, Gen. d. Inf.
von Gerok
     Ruiz Group, Feldmlt. de Ruiz
          218. Deutsch inf. div., Genmj. von Nostitz
          1. K.u.K. kav. div., Feldmlt. de Ruiz
     VIII. Korps, Feldz.
von Begnini
          71. inf. div., Genmj.
von Goldbach
          70. Honved inf. div., Feldmlt.
von Sorsic
     Gerok Group, Gen. d. Inf.
von Gerok
          7. kav. div., Genmj. von Marenzi
     VI. Korps, Feldmlt.
von Hadfy
          225. Deutsch inf. div., Genmj. von Woyna
          39. Honved inf. div., Genmj. von Breit
     Lipocsak Group, Feldmlt. von Liposcak
          7. inf. div., Genmj. von Schmid
          21. inf. div., Feldmlt. von Lütgendorf
          72. inf. div., Feldmlt. Bandian
          31. inf. div., Genmj. Leib
          37. Honved inf. div., Genmj. Haber
          3. kav. div., Genmj. Kopecek
7. Armee, Generaloberst
Kövess von Kövesshaza
     Krauss Group, Feldmlt. von Krauss
     support:  117. Deutsch inf. div., Gennmj. Seydel
     XI. Korps, Feldmlt. von Habermann
          51. Honved inf. div., Genmj. von Benke
          74. Honved inf. div., Genmj. Grallert
     Apor Group, Feldmlt. Apor
          5. Honved kav. div., Feldmlt. Apor
          6. kav. div., Genmj. von Schwer
     Pichler Group, Feldmlt. Pichler
          11. Honved kav. div., Genmj. von Jony
          59. inf. div., Feldmlt. Pichler
     Deutsch Karpathen Korps, Genlt. von Conta
          40. Honved inf. div., Genmj.
von Nagy
          1. Deutsch inf. div., Genmj. Paschen
          200. Deutsch inf. div., Genlt. Böß
     XVI. K.u.K. Korps, Feldmlt. von Fabini
          8. kav. div., Genmj. von Dokonal
          34. inf. div., Genmj. von Luxardo
          30. inf. div., Feldmlt. Jeßer
Archduke Josef and the staff of his VI. Armee in early June, 1918
Orders of Battle:  Italian Front, mid-June 1918
Immediately preceding Austria's Piave Offensive

Boroevic Army Group,
Feldmarchal Boroevic von Bojna
6. Armee, Generaloberst Erzherzog Josef
     II. Korps, Gen. d. Inf. Rudolf Krauss
          8. inf. div., Genmj. von Dokonal
     XXIV. Korps, Feldmlt.
          31. inf. div., Feldmlt. Lieb
          13. Schützen div., Feldmlt. Kindl
          17. inf. div., Feldmlt. Ströher
     res., 11. Honved kav. div., Genmj.
Orders of Battle:  Italian Front, mid-October 1918
Immediately preceding the Italian Offensive

Army Group Erzherzog Josef,
Generaloberst Erzherzog Josef
10. Armee, Feldmarschal
von Krobatin
     V. Korps, Erzherzog
Peter Ferdinand
          22. Schützen div., Feldmlt. Müller
     XX. Korps, Gen. d. inf. Kalser von Maasfeld
          49. inf. div., Feldmlt. von Steinhart
     Riwa det., Feldmlt. von Schiesser
     XXI. Korps, Gen. d. Inf. Lütgendorf
          3. kav. div., Feldmlt. von Kopecek
          56. Schützen div., Feldmlt. Kroupa
     XIV. Edelweiss Korps, Gen. d. Inf.
Ignaz Verdross von Drossberg
          Kaiser Jäger div., Genmj.
Felix Prinz zu Schwarzenberg
          19. inf. div., Feldmlt. Elmar
     res., 3. Edelweiss inf. div., Feldmlt. von Alpenbach
11. Armee, Generaloberst
     III. Korps, Generaloberst
Martiny von Malastow
          6. kav. div., Feldmlt. von Braganca
          6. inf. div., Genmj. von Schilhawsky
         52. inf. div., Genmj.
     XIII. Korps, Gen. d. Inf. von Bekes
          27. inf. div., Genmj. Sallager
          38. Honved inf. div., Feldmlt. von Molnar
          10. kav. div., Feldmlt. von Bauernthal
     VI. Korps, Gen. d. Inf.
Weber von Webenau
          53. inf. div., Genmj. Korzer
          18. inf. div., Genmj. Vidale von San Martino
          39. Honved inf. div., Feldmlt. von Doberdo
     Army res., 5. inf. div., Feldmlt. von Felix
          36. inf. div., Feldmlt. von Nöhring
          74. Honved inf. div., Feldmlt. Perneczky
"I Represent His Majesty the King; Long Live the Republic!"

Already in October 1918, there had been outbreaks of violence and mutinies among the troops stationed in the Hungarian capital.  Archduke Josef inquired from the senior commander, General Geza Lukachich, as to the mood of the soldiers.  Lukachich's reply was simple:  "They are unreliable."  On 1 November 1918, revolution broke out in Budapest.  Violence spilled out into the streets and the government resigned.  Former premier Istvan Tisza was assassinated by disaffected soldiers.  The Hadik regime, the last government appointed by King Karl, lasted barely a day because of the heightening chaos.  By his own accord and without the orders of the King, Archduke Josef appointed the leftist Mihály Graf Károlyi von Nagykárolyi to be premier.

On 1 November, the whole new cabinet of Graf Károlyi proceeded to the royal palace, wherein Archduke Josef awaited them, and gave the oath of allegiance to the king, whose representative was the Archduke.  This was a few hours before the assassination of Tisza.  The government thereafter understood that the oath was merely a formality, and the crumbling situation in Budapest meant that anything done in the name of the royal government would have little consequence outside Károlyi's office.  After all, when word got to the people in the streets that Hadik was being replaced by Károlyi, they began to cheer wildly and sang praises to the republic, one that had not yet come into existence. 

The National Council, the body of leftist politicians that had caused the king to release the Hungarian troops from their oath of allegiance, informed Károlyi's cabinet on 2 November that the Hungarian people were no longer for a government other than a republic. Károlyi had previously been wary of making a move because of rumours that Lukachich was gathering his regiments and preparing to storm the National Council headquarters. 

There was a disturbing panic in Károlyi's office the day before when there was a story that Lukachich had ordered a Bosnian regiment to march straight into the city and enforce order with bayonets.  But Lukachich left his troops in their barracks, uncertain of their reliability.  During the afternoon of 2 November, the National Council ok'd Károlyi's cabinet to approach the Archduke and convince him to release them from the oath of allegiance to the king as well, though not to secure the king’s abdication. 

During the last day, the Archduke Josef had made a very interesting turnabout from the king’s plenipotentiary to the leading republican.  How this came about is still a matter of debate, but by late 2 November, the Archduke was making frantic telephone calls to the king in Baden, pleading with him to avoid civil war by acceding to the will of the people.  The King did not question (at this time) the wisdom of the ascension of Károlyi.  The Archduke expressed his opinion that the throne of Hungary was lost to the Habsburgs, and resistance would endanger the king personally (and the Archduke, who was in the middle of the seething cauldron of revolution). 

The King had already taken steps to gauge public opinion on 30 October, by asking a sector of Hungarian troops to vote on whether they would choose a monarchy or a republic, only to have the already fleeing Magyars shout for the republic.  The King’s obstinancy had more to do with dynastic issues than with reality.  Archduke Josef ended up asking National Council member Jászi whether the government was about to declare a republic.  When Jászi replied in the negative, stating that the National Assembly would deal with the issue soon, the Archduke then asked “Indeed?  But will it not be too late?  Will not this delay irritate public opinion and lead to fresh complications?” 

After that, the Archduke personally proceeded to the National Council where he offered an oath of allegiance to them, releasing himself from all allegiance to his sovereign and family patriarch.  He also offered to change his name from Habsburg to Alcsút, named after the town in which he was born.  But the National Council asked him to hold off on the issue for the moment.  The Council, after working through a suitable platform for their new government, brought about the election of a full National Assembly, which voted for a republic on 16 November 1918, and this was ushered in with a wave of enthusiasm.

On 17 November, Archduke Josef arrived at the National Council and then his oath of allegiance was accepted, in what many called an emotional ceremony.  And yet, his work was finished without him knowing it. Alcsút though he had become, there was no room for him in the Károlyi government, which itself was a shaky and untried authority.  So, the Archduke retired to western Hungary and evaded retribution from revolutionaries, still determined to cleanse Hungary of all things Habsburg.

[rev. 6/05]
Hope Springs Anew, 1919

Josef remained in western Hungary and, because this region was filled with nationalists and reactionaries, he managed to avoid persecutions from both the socialist republic as well as
Bela Kun and his 113 days of terror.  On 5 August 1919, after the government collapsed and the Rumanian army entered Budapest, Archduke Josef magically reappeared in the city, claimed the authority to treat with the occupiers. 

On 6 August, as the Rumanians began their reign of terror, Josef ousted the acting President,
Gyula Peidl, and took charge, titling himself Royal Governor, or Palatine.  This, of course, was an historical claim to his grandfather's mantle, but the seeds of ambition ran even deeper.   He desired to seize the throne of Hungary for himself.  And, he made his claim as a Hungarian bearing his surname Alcsút rather than Habsburg.  But this little scheme of his fell flat when neither the new National Council (this one composed of "whites" made up of former army officers and landowners) nor the looting Rumanians recognised his claims.  Josef remained at the royal palace for three weeks, waiting for a decision by the inter-allied commission.

By 23 October 1919, the Entente, represented by General d'Esperrey, notified Josef that neither his claims nor even his presence were appreciated.  The Rumanians had used his so-called governorship as something of a pretext to remain in Budapest all this time, to prevent revolutionary disturbances and what they termed "Habsburg resurgence."   Josef quietly resigned his governorship (called by the whites a "three-week holiday") and took his place with the parliamentarians.  His prime minister, Istvan Friedrich, replaced him, taking the less fanciful title of Head of State.  The Rumanians finally quit Budapest in December 1919, after removing all valuables that could be uprooted.

Later, Josef ascended to the Upper Chamber in the Hungarian parliament, and he became a vocal supporter for first Premier Gömbös (who had led the army against King Karl's putsch in 1921) and later the infamous Arrow Cross fascist movement.  He evacuated Hungary when the Red Army marched on Budapest, and sought refuge in Austria. From there, Josef emigrated to the United States, and returned to Europe to live with his sister, Princess Margaret von Thurn und Taxis.  After this, he published several memoirs and historical studies.  His son, Joseph Francis (1895-1957), was regarded as a simple-minded man, but his wife Monica was well-liked in the social circles of Budapest.

Archduke Josef died on 6 July 1962 in the town of Rain bei Straubing.

GWS, 10/01 [rev. 6/05]