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#1 SMSKaiser

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Posted 14 June 2011 - 07:57 AM

In the various discussions on the Eastern front, especially on casualties, whether in this forum or in the available book material, the Austro-Hungarian combat force will often be described as a more or less ineffective "militia force" incapable of conducting modern warfare.

As my personal interest goes deeply into the topic of the Southern part of the Eastern front for the first two years of war, i decided to open a discussion to challenge this opinion.

After their defeat in the opening campaign of august to september 1914, the reduced Austro-Hugarian army seems to have played only a minor role in the warfare on the Eastern front, almost all of its offensives failed and troop strength remained low throughout the campaign, as casualties were well over the available replacements.

First, some open questions:

1) Austria-Hungary, in terms of combat effectiveness, looks like the "small brother", of Germany. Is it possible that people tend to compare Austrian successes with German ones. I think most people might agree that Germany's army was superior to any of the main combattants.
With Germany "out of league", wouldn't it be more objective to compare Austrian performance with that of e.g. Russia and France rather than Germany.

2) There are many discussions on Russian casualties during the Great War. Most accounts i came across give the impression that the Russian always held the ground against their Austrian foe. But to what price, actually?

3) Austria seems to be the only major combattant which includes casualties in the "sick" category in its official casualty figures, who are often quoted. Are there any statistics on Russian "sick" personnel?


There could be a lot more questions to be asked, but i would like to start with just these few points.

1) Let's have a look a the initial campaign in Galicia during August to September 1914.
While the German army fought an won two of its most sucesful battles in the war at all with Tannenberg and the Masurian lakes, the Austrian offensive was checked and repulsed with great casualties.
The official history pays alot attention to the inferiority of the Autrian artillery as a main cause for the reverse.

Field Marshal Conrad: "[...] Der erste Schlag (Krasnik) und der zweite Schlag (Komarow) waren gelungen, der dritte (Lemberg, Przemyslany) und der vierte (Lemberg, Rawa Ruska) waren es nicht[...]"

(the first strike (Krasnik) and the second one (Komarow) succeeded, the third and fourth ones (at Lemberg) did not)

To compare the effectiveness of the Austro-Hungarian Army with that of Russia, one has to consider how the battles of Przemyslany and Rawa Ruska were fought.
When all available forces on bot sides arrived the Galician theatre, both combattants had roughly 800,000 men in infantry strength. But on the Austran side the Eastern wing lacked its IV. and VII. Corps in the inital clashes, and Russian superiority therefore reached the same dimensions as it did in East Prussia.

I would like too claim that already a this point, a change reaction set in, which had desastrous effects on the whole course of the war, but did not necessarily mean that the Austrian Army was unable to fight a modern war at all.

In the battle of Zloczow, from 26th to 27th August 1914, the Austrian third Army faced a 2:1 numerical superiority, was defeated and lost many of its men. In the later battles on the Gnila Lipa, and at Rawa Ruska, the Austrians still were numerical inferior to the Russians, but battle accounts do not take into account that they must logically have suffered far worse in the initial battle.

At Zloczow, 115 Austrian fought 192 Russian battalions.
At the Gnila Lipa, 282 Austrian fougth 336 Russian battalions. Considering higher Austrian casualties in the first battle, the difference might well lay over the 50,000 men difference in this second one.

At Tannenberg, 153 German fought 175 Russian battalions
At the Masurian lakes, 184 German fought 228 Russian battalions. Apart from German tactical superiority, numbers were more equal in these two battles, than they were in Eastern Galicia.
The fact that 1st and 2nd Armies were defeated one after another is rather luck than ability. While most accounts speak of one weak German army defeating two Russian ones, while four Austrian were defeated by 4 Russian ones, those numbers give a different impression in my opinion.

Now the critic sets in at the wrong point when we compare German with Austrian battle results, as the situations were not equal.

2) and 3) questions could be dealt with with this one example: the Brusilov offensives cost the Russians more than 1,5, rather 2 mio men. Austrian casualties are given with around 1 mio, with many prisoners. But the fact is, in those 2 mio Russians, sick men are not included, while in the Austrian 1 mio they are.
Real combat casualties reach not more than 500,000 to 600,000 Austrians.
One might say, the success of the Brusilov offensives lay more with the ability of throwing masses of reinforcements into the battle.

The argument that the Germany were always inferior, on the other hand, to the Russians on their part of the front, is more a myth than real fact, as after the Tannenberg-East-Prussian Campaign a greater amount of German divisions was transferred to the East, to such a degree that in the Great retreat of 1915, not all of the German divisions in the East could be put into the front lines, due to their numbers.

At this point, again i claim that it was not really the Austrian weakness, but the impossibility of the circumstances. The Russian army was always superior in numbers.
And all those widely known and accepted reasons for Habsburg weakness, such as inhomogenous forces, bad austrian officer corps and so on...are more a side effect than a real reason.

#2 PJA

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Posted 14 June 2011 - 01:02 PM

You are right, surely.


People like to depict the armies of the Great War ( and other wars, too ) in caricature.

The Austrians ( by which I mean Austro-Hungarians) are made to appear in the same light as the Italians in the Second World War.

Sweeping generalisations, all too often very unfair.

I like your point about the AH casualties being presented by different criteria : we hear of 800,000 casualties in the Carpathians, for example, in a few months in early 1915. The majority of these were not men killed, wounded or captured in battle, but men evacuated sick or with frostbite. It makes a huge difference, but it is ignored.

People prefer caricature, no matter how great the distortion or exaggeration.

I do hope that you press your point, sir...there is scope for much revision when it comes to the combat performance of the Austrian army 1914-1918.... we need a historiographical re-assessment, I think.

Good luck, and please keep in touch with me.

Phil (PJA)

#3 bob lembke

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Posted 14 June 2011 - 03:28 PM

Very interesting topic. The general sweep of these questions are at a much higher level than my usual tactical / detailed / technical detail level of study. I'll contribute a few general observations and a couple of specific "case studies".

It is true that the overall performance of the Austro-Hungarian armies was poor, but the causes were quite complex, which everyone seems to grasp already. The multi-national nature of the A-H army and the very different histories and national asperations of the constituent peoples was an unsurmountable problem, especially after "the going got rough". I have read that later in the war German cadres, down to the NCO level, were injected into many A-H units, and as they were outsiders to the intra-Empire conflicts (and recognized as professional soldiers), the A-H troops of the various ethnicities tended to mind them.

The Turkish Army had many of the same basic problems, but at Gallipoli at least the Turks, having a lot more manpower than materiel (rifles, guns, ammo, shoes, etc.) largely only used ethnic Turkish units, with the exception of one or a few Arab infantry regiments, and in fact converted other ethnic units (e. g., Greek and Armenian) to labor battalions, despite the fact that the Turks were often numerically outnumbered at Gallipoli. Of course the ethnic Turks were defending their homeland, a powerful catalyst, while the various A-H ethnic units were wandering about fighting in remote foreign areas, sometimes against fellow Slavs.

My father was present on the Western Front when the A-H army sent a regiment in solidarity to fight there. (My father's oral history has, surprisingly, proven to be extremely accurate, when I can check it against other materials, documents, etc.) He described the Austrian regiment (almost surely a good Austrian unit) arriving by rail. It was unloading, and on one flat-car was quite a collection of gear being unloaded by someone's servants, including an ornate four-poster bed. A German colonel looked on disapprovingly, and demanded: "Whose kit is this?" A dapper Austrian lieutenant stepped up, I assume a wealthy nobleman, and said: "Colonel, it is mine." The colonel responded: "I have a foot-locker. Burn it!" The bed had been dragged thousands of km on valuable scarce rail transport.

Seemingly the Germans were at a loss for what to do with the regiment, and finally they were put in line. Of course after a while the French realized that the opposing unit was Austrian. After consideration the French threw a division against the regiment, and it collapsed, and the division rolled over them. However, the German command had placed strong forces on the flanks of the Austrian unit, including my father's Prussian Guard Flammenwerfer unit, and they pushed in, and snapped the door shut behind the French division, which was then digested. (My father said that he saw horse-drawn French 75s galloping madly into the gap.) My father said that after that they could put the Austrian regiment in line and the French were not inclined to attack it. (Due to his duties my father was generally behind the lines, was intelligent and inquisitive, his father was a staff officer, and he tried to glean what was going on. At Stenay-sur-Meuse he sometimes hung about outside the Crown Prince's 5. Armee HQ to see what was going on, I have evidence of this.)

Several times Austrian heavy artillery, generally the 30.5 cm "Motor-Mortars", with highly mobile carriages designed by Ferdinand Porsche, were sent to the West, these were very good and very useful units.

I was reading a detailed book by an Austrian storm detachment officer on the Italian alpine front; the Austrian units seemed to have more storm detachments worked into their units than the Germans did, but he reported that in the last months of the war only a division's storm detachment would not only draw rations, but also actually fight, if called on.

Just a few stray observations on a very complex topic. It is amazing that the German Army kept fighting as long as it did, given the hunger at the units and at home, the suffering of families home, the losses, etc.; but the A-H army, much of it lacking the incredibly strong German social glue, unwound to a halt far earlier in the war, to generalize horribly.

Bob Lembke

#4 SMSKaiser

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Posted 15 June 2011 - 06:10 AM

[quote name='PJA' timestamp='1308056546' post='1603910']
I like your point about the AH casualties being presented by different criteria : we hear of 800,000 casualties in the Carpathians, for example, in a few months in early 1915. The majority of these were not men killed, wounded or captured in battle, but men evacuated sick or with frostbite. It makes a huge difference, but it is ignored.
[/quote]

Thank you for this example.

The count of 800,000 is just an estimate made by the official history "Österreich-Ungarns letzter Krieg",
but at a closer look on how it is made, up, one might see the difference:

out of 793,000 men casualties during that period, 435,000 were recorded as sick. The ratio of sick to wounded for 1915 is almost 1 to 1, so we can say that around 220,000 of those were in the "sick category".
The other interesting thing are the 55,000 "Kranke und verstrobene des Erhaltungsapparates" (sick and dead of the supply/ back area forces).
I am not quite sure wether e.g. the casualties for the battle of Verdun include men of this kind, Nevertheless, we can see that most of became casualty due to non-combat causes.

At this point, on arrives at the number of 518,000 men for the period of January to April (average of 130,000 per month) for the whole Austro-Hungarian part of the Eastern front. Quite a difference.

Furthermore, the 120,000 Prisoners from the fortress Przemysl, included in the above figure, are of course casualties in military terms.
But, as Conrad's Carpathian offensives were much criticized, we can now see that "just" the offensives of January to April, did cost 400,000 men at all.

This might throw a different light on the Carpathian Winter offensives.

[quote]
Just a few stray observations on a very complex topic. It is amazing that the German Army kept fighting as long as it did, given the hunger at the units and at home, the suffering of families home, the losses, etc.; but the A-H army, much of it lacking the incredibly strong German social glue, unwound to a halt far earlier in the war, to generalize horribly.
[quote]

And we should not forget that, though this is of course disputed, both armies at the end of 1918 had still enough soldiers and equipment to fight through the winter. The hundreds of thousands of Austrian POW in the battle of Vittorio Veneto were to a great share captured after armistice, and i personally think that the collapse of the Central Powers really did occur in the interior.

The people of Austria, Hungary and Germany had suffered enough, but still there armies were, to a certain kind, able to protect them after all.

#5 PJA

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Posted 15 June 2011 - 08:19 AM

[quote name='SMSKaiser' timestamp='1308118217' post='1604225']
I am not quite sure wether e.g. the casualties for the battle of Verdun include men of this kind, Nevertheless, we can see that most of became casualty due to non-combat causes.

No doubt here, sir, the approximately 350,000 German casualties recorded at Verdun allude to combat losses only : killed in action, wounded in action, and missing in action. Those evacuated sick were recorded as a separate category.

AH combat loses were very heavy, especially in the first twelve months of war. From what I can discern in very incomplete and contradictory figures, the total number of AH soldiers who actually died in combat equated, very roughly, to half the total of Germans. That is for all fronts. I've reached a very tentative conclusion that about 900,000 AH soldiers were killed in battle, and more than half a million died from contagion, squalor, hardship and other hazards of war, mainly as POWs. The Germans seem to have lost about 1.8m and 0.25 million respectively.

The Russians took ten times as many Austrian prisoners as they did German.

The Austrians themselves claimed to have captured just under one million Russians, compared with about a million and a half who were counted in German captivity.

One has to say that, considering the immense difficulties that the AH Empire had to contend with, the effort made was remarkable.

Perhaps the best indicator of what Austrian soldiers could achieve was apparent on the Italian Front, where a steadfastness was maintained in fighting of terrible intensity.

I visited an AH military cemetery in Verona, with thousands of dead soldiers from 1915-18, and I was moved by the sight of so many Teutonic names intermixed with Slavic ones. It brought home to me how diffcult it must have been to command such a mixture of men, let alone imbue them with a common purpose. Clearly this was much more easy to do in a war against the Italians, which did not entail Slav fighting fellow Slav.

Phil (PJA)

#6 PJA

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Posted 15 June 2011 - 08:48 AM

Following on from my post above, I wish to suggest that the Italians themselves have had the combat performance of their army impugned by casualty statistics that have been improperly presented. For example, take Mark Thompson's reference to the Tenth Battle of the Isonzo, in early summer 1917. In his excellent book THE WHITE WAR, page 254, he writes :

After three weeks, the Italians had taken more than 150,000 casualties, including 36,000 killed. The Austrians had only 7,300 killed.

The Austrian killed allude only to those confirmed killed in action, and do not include a comparable number of missing who were dead, or wounded who died from wounds. The Italian killed allow for these categories. The reader gains the impression that five Italians were killed for every Austrian, whereas the real ratio was probably more like two to one. A statistical detail, perhaps, but a statement that presents a very distorted perception.

Phil (PJA)

#7 marsyao

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 12:51 AM

You are right, surely.


People like to depict the armies of the Great War ( and other wars, too ) in caricature.

The Austrians ( by which I mean Austro-Hungarians) are made to appear in the same light as the Italians in the Second World War.

Sweeping generalisations, all too often very unfair.

I like your point about the AH casualties being presented by different criteria : we hear of 800,000 casualties in the Carpathians, for example, in a few months in early 1915. The majority of these were not men killed, wounded or captured in battle, but men evacuated sick or with frostbite. It makes a huge difference, but it is ignored.

out of 793,000 men casualties during that period, 435,000 were recorded as sick.


Good luck, and please keep in touch with me.

Phil (PJA)


hi, PJA, as far as I know, the reason for such high number of sickness was because the completely breaking down of the Austro-Hungarians logistics system, soldiers fought with empty stomach, no winter cloth in one of the worst winter, without adequate firepower support, so that Austro-Hungarians army suffered huger losses for frostbite and starvation. Though we may not category those losses as same as combat losses, but I do not think we should category them as non-combat illness in the normal situation either.
Say, suffering frostbite in the trench at west front was one thing, suffering frostbite when charging in a winter blizzard with summer cloth and empty stomach was another thing

#8 kaiserknight

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 05:55 AM

Hi Bob,

Is this book in German? Can you please advise of the title?

Thanks.

I was reading a detailed book by an Austrian storm detachment officer on the Italian alpine front; the Austrian units seemed to have more storm detachments worked into their units than the Germans did, but he reported that in the last months of the war only a division's storm detachment would not only draw rations, but also actually fight, if called on.


Bob Lembke
[/quote]

#9 PJA

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 06:33 AM

According to the German War graves data, more than thirteen thousand German soldiers are buried in Italy from the Great War.

That is a large figure, given that the actual committment of the German army at Caporetto was limited to a relatively small number of divisions, for a short time, with overall casualties that were pretty modest..

Does this indicate that significant numbers of Germans were deployed in another episode, before or after Caporetto, or does it suggest that, throughout the war on the Italian Front, German units were sent to "stiffen" the AH army ?

Phil (PJA)

#10 bob lembke

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 09:05 AM

Hi Bob,

Is this book in German? Can you please advise of the title?

Thanks.


It certainly was in German. It was several years ago, and this is an area in which I have not worked for a couple of years, so I would have a bit of work to track it down. Does the German work for you? If so, I will root about. I think that it was a recently published book, not published in the era. My wife works in a library of eight million volumes and can eventually get most books held in American collections for me, so I have had hundreds of books run under my nose that I do not own, so I just cannot recall this title. If I owned it I would have both a paper and a computer "card catalog", and a better memory of it.

Bob

#11 bob lembke

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 09:37 AM

According to the German War graves data, more than thirteen thousand German soldiers are buried in Italy from the Great War.

That is a large figure, given that the actual committment of the German army at Caporetto was limited to a relatively small number of divisions, for a short time, with overall casualties that were pretty modest..

Does this indicate that significant numbers of Germans were deployed in another episode, before or after Caporetto, or does it suggest that, throughout the war on the Italian Front, German units were sent to "stiffen" the AH army ?

Phil (PJA)


I am surprised by that number. My sense was that German casualties at Caporetto were light, as the Italians collapsed after initial resistance. Rommel's description of his experience was quite dramatic. His command was three companies of Alpine troops, light infantry, and he seemingly captured 10,5000 troops and 82 cannon. At the end his deployable command was about six men, a couple of bicycle messangers, the battalion typist, etc., as all the rest were guarding prisoners. He advanced with his intrepid band, and spotted an Italian regiment on the road. Deciding that the Italians might not be impressed with his command, he had his men hide and walked down the road alone, waving a white handkerchief. The Italian troops greeted him with acclaim. Some Italian officers complained about the chorus, and the troops shot one or two of them. The Italian troops then hoisted Rommel onto their shoulders, and ran up and down the road shouting: "Viva Germania!" 1500 men then happily marched off into captivity guarded by six clerks.

Besides Teutonic triumphalism, the point is that the troops had been very badly treated by the officers and the Italian Army in general, and were quite fed up.

I don't read a lot about Italy, but I don't recall German cadre joining A-H units for stiffening, like was done on the Eastern Front, nor other occasions when German units were employed there. One small exception was the occasional visit of small detachments from my father's flame regiment, but they carried out attacks sometimes of only two flame-throwers, and they generally did not lose men, or rarely one or two. My father's flame company went to Italy for Caparetto, but it was over so quickly that I do not think that they ever attacked. (At one time I thought that he was there, as he told me one or two anecdotes about the fighting there, but my father was in France in hospital from complications from his worst wound from Verdun, which bothered him for over 10 years, from his documents. He must have heard the anecdotes from comrades.)

So I don't know where the 13,000 came from. No WW II dead in WW I cemetaries?

I probably drove thru Caparetto 10 times before I realized that the Slovene town of Kobarid was the Italian Caparetto. (I had assumed that it was more west and in Italy.) There is a nice award-winning WW I museum in Kobarid.

Bob

#12 PJA

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 09:49 AM

That figure surprises me too, Bob....that's why I drew it to the attention of the forum.

They are most definitely all dead from the Great War.

The actual figure according to VdK is 13,391.

Such a figure is compatible with significant and sustained involvement, wouldn''t you say ?

It equates , virtually, to the combat strength of an entire division, and implies forty thousand or so casualties overall.

I'm just wondering whether German nationals enlisted in the AH armies, and were subsequently identified and reclaimed for burial as warriors of The Fatherland.

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#13 CROONAERT

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 11:32 AM

The actual figure according to VdK is 13,391...

...I'm just wondering whether German nationals enlisted in the AH armies, and were subsequently identified and reclaimed for burial as warriors of The Fatherland.



Looking a little deeper into the actual breakdown of WW1 casualties under VdK care in Italy, it appears that the figure is, in the main, K.K. troops buried in 'German' (or what would become German) cemeteries...


Brixen - 400 (all A-H)
Bruneck - 677 (all A-H)
Feltre - 271 (German & A-H... individual breakdown unknown)
Pordoi - 8582 (German & A-H ... individual breakdown unknown)
Quero - 3461 (229 German, 3232 A-H)


Brixen and Bruneck both also contain WW2 German casualties (not quoted in the figures above ... 106 and 25 respectively if interested) - hence the VdK take-over (1959) of what are (were) , in reality, Austrian WW1 cemeteries. Feltre and Quero both contain Germans anyway (and were taken over by the VdK in May 1939... when Germany and Austria were one nation) and Pordoi was taken over in 1959 - by which time there were also 849 'German' burials from WW2 to add to the unknown amount from WW1.

A-H cemeteries with no German burials didn't fall under VdK jurisdiction and, therefore, don't have their numbers listed in VdK sources.

Dave.

#14 marsyao

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 11:49 AM

Gaetano Gavallaro's "Futility ending in Disaster" may explain this, yes, the Caporetto was an easy breakthrough, both due to the excellent planning and completely collapse of moral of many Italian units, but after retreating to the Piave river, and along the north mountain, the Italian resistance stiffen, and Gavallaro describe how Germans and A-H's failed attack and suffered heavy losses, especially from later November and early December. Majority of the German losses must occur there.

#15 marsyao

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 01:41 PM

Looking a little deeper into the actual breakdown of WW1 casualties under VdK care in Italy, it appears that the figure is, in the main, K.K. troops buried in 'German' (or what would become German) cemeteries...


Brixen - 400 (all A-H)
Bruneck - 677 (all A-H)
Feltre - 271 (German & A-H... individual breakdown unknown)
Pordoi - 8582 (German & A-H ... individual breakdown unknown)
Quero - 3461 (229 German, 3232 A-H)


Brixen and Bruneck both also contain WW2 German casualties (not quoted in the figures above ... 106 and 25 respectively if interested) - hence the VdK take-over (1959) of what are (were) , in reality, Austrian WW1 cemeteries. Feltre and Quero both contain Germans anyway (and were taken over by the VdK in May 1939... when Germany and Austria were one nation) and Pordoi was taken over in 1959 - by which time there were also 849 'German' burials from WW2 to add to the unknown amount from WW1.

A-H cemeteries with no German burials didn't fall under VdK jurisdiction and, therefore, don't have their numbers listed in VdK sources.

Dave.

But if this figure includes both German and A-H deaths in WWI, even let us assume A-H deaths only includes thoser German national, this figure would sound way too low, considering there were more than a dozen very bloody battles fought in the Italy

#16 bob lembke

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 01:55 PM

Dave's last sentence explains it. Those are only the A-H dead in cemetaries under German management. Do the Austrians have a large graveyard system abroad? They must have lost over 100,000 or more in Italy. The fighting on the Ionzo was miserable.

First time I went climbing with my Slovene mountain guide, driving from Ljubljana, Slovenija to Zermatt via Chamoix by going across northern Italy, my guide, who I barely knew then, insisted that we stop at an Italian war cemetary; he wanted to show me all the Slovene names. He was bitter about all of the Slovenes forced by A-H and Italy to fight against each other. We ended up climbing in the Swiss and French Alps for about five seasons.

His own father was a Russian POW who was forced labor on the Alpine roads in Slovenija leading to Caparetto, who at the end of the war had the sense to stay in Slovenija instead of being repatriated. I had met him, he lived to 95.

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#17 CROONAERT

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 01:57 PM

But if this figure includes both German and A-H deaths in WWI, even let us assume A-H deaths only includes thoser German national, this figure would sound way too low, considering there were more than a dozen very bloody battles fought in the Italy



If you read the last sentence on my post you'll see that the figures don't include all A-H burials... only those buried in 'German' cemeteries.


Dave

#18 marsyao

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 02:38 PM

Looks like I have some misunderstanding here,"A-H cemeteries with no German burials didn't fall under VdK jurisdiction and, therefore, don't have their numbers listed in VdK sources.", I thought"no German burials" means "no German nationals from either German Empire or A-H burials", that was the reason I thought this figures were too low. Now looks like this should mean "No German nationals from German Emprie burials

#19 PJA

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 06:41 PM

Although official AH casualty figures are very incomplete, they do provide some notion of the proportion of deaths that were ascribed to the several fronts. It seems that about sixty per cent of all the combat deaths were ascribed to the Russian Front, and thirty per cent to the war on the Italian front. This also applies to wounded.
In terms of prisoners and missing, though, the preponderance lost to the Russians accounts for a far grear percentage of the total.

Up until July 31st 1918, the breakdown was :

Deaths : Russian Front, 62.4%; Italian Front, 29.2%; Balkan Front, 8%; Western Front, 0.6%.

Wounds : Russian Front, 62.1%; Italian Front, 30.3%; Balkan Front, 7.5%; Western Front, 0.1%.

Missing/POW : Russian Front, 79.7%; Italian Front, 14.5%; Balkan Front, 5.6%; Western Front : 0.3%.

Sick : Russian Front, 45.3%; Italian Front : 41.9%; Balkan Front : 10.2%; Western Front : 2.6%.

Obviously, the heavy AH casualties incurred against the Italians in the last few months of the war would need to be added on to this, and the proportions altered accordingly.

The high proportion of missing on the Russian Front reflects the massive loss of prisoners in the Brusilov Offensive.

The proportion of sick seems anomalously low on the Russian Front. My guess is that this reflects the fact that the vast bulk of the AH killed and wounded against the Russians were suffered in the first twelve months. This period of Austro - Russian combat was so intense that the battle casualties outnumbered the disease cases and rather altered the overall ratio of battle casualties to wastage from disease .

I would feel confident in asserting that at least half a milllion AH soldiers died in actual combat against the Russians, and a quarter of a million or more against the Italians, with the best part of another one hundred thousand being killed in the Balkans.

As one of our posters suggests, we must acknowledge the fact that, in addition to those hundreds of thousands cut down in action, huge numbers of Hapsburg soldiers died from privation and exposure in extremely harsh and hazardous battlefield conditions, and, while not struck down by shells or bullets, they were as surely victims of the battlefield as those who were killed by enemy action.

Edit : A blindingly obvious thing comes to mind....the Germans rightly feared a two front war : the poor Austrians found themselves trying to cope with a three front war : small wonder it was too much for them. Rather than depict them as fielding the worst of all the major armies, might it not be more fair to countenance the argument that they faced the most daunting challenge ?

Phil (PJA)

#20 John Gilinsky

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Posted 17 June 2011 - 06:11 PM

FYI of all: I have started a thread on Official AH online sources in the OTHER section of the GWF. This includes the official rangliste(army list), official casualty list of sick and wounded, official POW list, official list of landwehr and reserves so far. I hope this helps people out.
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#21 PJA

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Posted 17 June 2011 - 08:25 PM

Yes, noted, John.

All honour to you, many thanks.

Phil (PJA)

#22 kaiserknight

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Posted 18 June 2011 - 07:14 AM

Thanks Bob for the reply!

Figured it would be - I'm not a German speaker, yes, I know what my moniker suggests!!!!

Aussie born - Italian mother & Slovenian father. Her father fought in Ethiopia in the 30s. My father fought as an Italian soldier, then as a German Landserschutzen, and finally as a partisan for Tito!! His father and his mother's father both fought in the A-H army. I would like to track down his A-H details at some stage.

I have travelled to Slovenia often since early 1990s - Kobarid/Caporetto is such a tragic but informative history in such a beautiful part of the world.

My interests are mainly Axis/Central Powers/Eastern 1&2 & Balkan fronts. I would not entertain the thought of having even 1/1000th of the knowledge expressed by the PALS at this great website - just someone interested in reading through that period - so many books but so little time!

Cheers, thanks again - waiting on a bibliography of German memoirs translated into English - there is a link in Book Reviews section - would love to start reading through this material.

It certainly was in German. It was several years ago, and this is an area in which I have not worked for a couple of years, so I would have a bit of work to track it down. Does the German work for you? If so, I will root about. I think that it was a recently published book, not published in the era. My wife works in a library of eight million volumes and can eventually get most books held in American collections for me, so I have had hundreds of books run under my nose that I do not own, so I just cannot recall this title. If I owned it I would have both a paper and a computer "card catalog", and a better memory of it.

Bob
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#23 bob lembke

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Posted 18 June 2011 - 09:51 AM

Horrible OT venture below, but hopefully interesting!

Thanks Bob for the reply!

Figured it would be - I'm not a German speaker, yes, I know what my moniker suggests!!!!

When I was 60 I found my father's and grand-father's letters from the front, so I taught myself to read German, and the old handwriting systems, so I could read them, and "I was off to the races". (In 1943 my mother and I were almost jammed in a camp, despite being here legally for 16 years, so my mother was afraid of my being identified as of German origin, so she made sure that I did not learn it, although it was spoken at home. I learned to speak German in Ljubljana in 1967, and Serbo-Croatian; we disappointed our Slovene co-workers by deciding not to try Slovene, which was much harder, and spoken by so few people.)

Aussie born - Italian mother & Slovenian father. Her father fought in Ethiopia in the 30s. My father fought as an Italian soldier, then as a German Landserschutzen, and finally as a partisan for Tito!! His father and his mother's father both fought in the A-H army. I would like to track down his A-H details at some stage.

Great family background!

I have travelled to Slovenia often since early 1990s - Kobarid/Caporetto is such a tragic but informative history in such a beautiful part of the world.

I have been to Jugoslavija / "ex-Jugoslavija" about 22 or 23 times, but mostly 1967 to 1985. All over, but mostly in Slovenija. The first time I was working in Ljubljana for Cornell University, the US Department of State, and two Communist governments; at the republican level, the Slovene Urbanistic Institute; and at the federal level, the Federal Committee for Scientific Cooperation; all at the same time. Complicated! The State Security Service (the secret police) went nuts at Americans working in the government, but they had just bugged Tito's bedroom (he was quite the romantic!) and he was more than annoyed and really cracked down on them, and in fact the head of the secret police in Ljubljana had just committed suicide when I arrived. There mood was probably not improved when they noticed that I was dating the daughter of the President of Slovenija; his brother was Tito's Secretary. (No, he did not take dictation.) So, the State Security Service tried to "turn" me for about 15 years, first sending a woman, then a man in a public rest room (you play the numbers in that game), and then a series of four other women. Through powerful friends I even knew the contents of the police files on me. Very unhappy secret police; when seeing I was followed, I mught chase the agent through the streets; once I chased an agent three times about the Three Bridges at the center of Ljubljana, before backing him against a store window and making faces in his face. Great fun if you were in no danger! Also climbed Triglav twice; intelligently with women.


Bob

#24 SMSKaiser

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Posted 20 June 2011 - 08:59 PM

FYI of all: I have started a thread on Official AH online sources in the OTHER section of the GWF. This includes the official rangliste(army list), official casualty list of sick and wounded, official POW list, official list of landwehr and reserves so far. I hope this helps people out.
Danke
John


It just came to my mind that those lists might be able to answer a question that intrigues me for a while now.

The official Austro-Hungarian history of the war describes the opening campaign of August-September 1914 more as indecisive with a strategical Austrian retreat.
Many sources state that the Austrians lost more than 400,000 men in these initial campaign. (including 100,000 POW).

I am not sure, but, if those lists in 4) contain POW, MIA as well as KIA, it would be possible to make a more "accurate" estimate of the casualties for that period of time.
The same applies for those sick and wounded under 1), of course.

On the 8th of September, the son of chief of the general staff Franz Baron Conrad, Herbert Baron Conrad, was killed in action.
I looked through the documents to find out when his death was published, which is on Verlustliste Nr. 47, in the "25.11.1914" part of section 4).

As the campaign lasted only until the 11th of september, one can say that with Verlustliste Nr. 47, the period ends (in the first estimate).

With 200 names on each document, with 324 pages so far, we get a total number of casualties of 64,800 men total.

on average, for 1 men KIA/POW/MIA there should be counted 2-3 wounded/sick during 1914.

The total of casualties until this date would thus make at most 260,000 men, which is a bit too low i have to admit, as the fighting went on for three more days.

But on the other hand if my idea is right, wouldn't this be a far better estimate on Austrian casualty figures?

#25 SMSKaiser

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Posted 20 June 2011 - 09:36 PM

After further checking of the lists i have to apologize for the rather "enthusiastic" approach, as the lists in 4) also contain wounded men.

This leads me to the question wether they are incomplete, or how can it be explained that until the 8th of september there were only about 70,000 casualties listed overall?



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