Svetozar Boroević

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Svetozar Boroević von Bojna
Svetozar Borojević
Svetozar Boroëvić von Bojna 1914.jpg
Born 13 December 1856
Umetić, Croatian Military Frontier, Austrian Empire (today's Croatia)
Died 23 May 1920 (aged 63)
Klagenfurt, First Austrian Republic (today's Austria)
Allegiance  Austria-Hungary
Service/branch Austro-Hungarian Army
Years of service 1872 - 1918
Rank Field Marshal
Battles/wars

First World War

Awards Military Merit Cross,
Cross of the Order Star of Romania,
Persian Order of the Sun and the Lion,
Order of the Iron Crown,
Knights' Cross of the Order of Leopold,
Military Order of Maria Theresa

Generalfeldmarschall Svetozar Boroević (or Borojević) von Bojna (13 December 1856 – 23 May 1920) was an Austro-Hungarian field marshal of Croatian Serb origin[1] who was described as one of the finest defensive strategists of the First World War.[2] He came from Croatia but spent his entire life in the imperial military, becoming a nobleman as Baron von Bojna, and later rising to the rank of Field Marshal before the end of the First World War in 1918.

Private life[edit]

Origin[edit]

Boroević was born on 13 December 1856 in the village of Umetić, Croatian Military Frontier, Austrian Empire (present-day Croatia).[3] His father Adam was a Grenzer (border guard) officer,[4] his mother was Stana (née Kovarbašić).[3] He was baptized in the Orthodox Church, most likely in the parish church in Mečenčani, where his father served.[5]

The accounts on his nationality differ. Boroević was ethnically Serbian. However, Boroević himself stated once that he was a Croat (which means that he is from Croatia) and that Croatia was his homeland,[5] and is sometimes described as such.[5][6] The Encyclopædia Britannica (1922), called him "a Serb Orthodox frontiersman".[7] Serbian historiography view him as Serb,[8] as does Horvat,[9] and the 1989 Croatian biographical lexicon, where he was described as "of Serb Grenzer family descent".[10] Some foreign modern sources follow these.[11][12] Most foreign sources simply refer to him as "Croatian".[5][6][13][14][15][16][17][18]

Family[edit]

He had a brother, Nikola, a colonel who also received Austrian noble status in 1917.[19]

In 1889, he married Leontina von Rosner, a daughter of a late Austrian colonel, Friedrich Ritter von Rosner. The couple had one son, Friedrich Borojević von Bojna, named after his mother's father. The son died in 1918.

Military career[edit]

Early career[edit]

Boroević joined cadet school at the age of ten. After finishing grade school he moved to Kamenica and later Graz where he studied in military academies. He attended the Liebenau cadet school in 1875.[4]

He advanced quickly through the ranks (corporal in 1872, lieutenant in 1875) and became a commander in the Croatian Home Guard, an equivalent to the Hungarian Honved and the Austrian Landwehr, defensive troops of parts of the Danube Monarchy, in times of peace not belonging to the Imperial & Royal Army. Before the First World War, he commanded the 42nd division of the Croatian Home Guard.[20] In 1903 he was formally released from the Home Guard, already having been assigned to the Imperial & Royal Army in 1898. During war, the defensive troops were part of the Armed Forces commanded by the Supreme Army Command (Armeeoberkommando) and could be used at the front.

He distinguished himself in the Austro-Hungarian occupation of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1878 and was promoted to the rank of Oberleutnant in 1880. Between 1887 and 1891 he underwent additional military training and worked as an instructor after that, becoming a major in 1892. In 1897 he was promoted to the rank of Oberst (colonel), and appointed chief of staff of the Seventh Corps of the Imperial & Royal Army in June 1898, where he remained until February 1904. In 1904 he was promoted Major General (Generalmajor). In 1905 he was created a Hungarian nobleman (since Croatia was one of the Lands of the Holy Hungarian Crown) with the attribute von Bojna by the Emperor & King. In 1908 the monarch made him Field Marshal Lieutenant (Feldmarschallleutnant). He became the commander of the Sixth Corps of the I & R Army in April 1912 and in 1913 General of the Infantry.

World War I[edit]

Svetozar Boroević

When World War I started in 1914 he was in command of the Sixth Corps on the Eastern Front. In early September 1914 he became commander of the Third Army, and in early October he liberated Fort Przemysl, providing a temporary relief in the Siege of Przemyśl. His troops then pulled back to hold positions around Limanowa, at the Dukla mountain pass, and elsewhere on the Carpathians, stopping the Russians from breaking out on the Danube. The Russian counter-offensive in February and March 1915 almost managed to push Boroević's Third Army back towards Hungary, but they managed to hold just enough for the German reinforcements to arrive and save the already endangered Budapest and the Pressburg bridgehead. They then proceeded to join the general Austro-Hungarian—German offensive (with the Austro-Hungarian Fourth Army under Joseph Ferdinand and the German Eleventh Army under Mackensen) that pushed back the Russians and eventually retook Przemysl.

Boroević did not remain on the Eastern Front long enough to see Przemysl liberated in June, because on May 25, 1915 he was sent to the new Italian front, taking part of the Third Army with him and leaving the rest to Army Group Mackensen. There Boroević became the Commander of the Fifth Army, with which he organized a defense against the Italians and broke countless offensives. Franz Conrad von Hötzendorf, Chief of Staff (Generalstabschef), Supreme Army Command (Armeeoberkommando), recommended that they fall back and avoid trying to defend the better part of today'sSlovenia, claiming it was indefensible. Boroević persisted with thirty of his detachments, maintaining that the Slovenes would stand their ground when faced with the defense of their own country. This appealed to Emperor Francis Joseph and he was given command on the Soča (Isonzo) front.

Boroević's troops contained eleven Italian attacks and he was hailed as the Knight of Isonzo in Austria-Hungary, while his soldiers adored him and called him Naš Sveto! ("Our Sveto!"). For valor in combat he was promoted to the rank of Generaloberst on May 1, 1916. On August 23, 1917 he rose to the position of commander of the Southwestern Front, which was later renamed Army Group Boroević. In January 1918, he opposed Hungarian proposals to split Austria-Hungary's Army into separate Austrian and Hungarian units.[21] He became Field Marshal on February 1, 1918, and was also awarded numerous medals, including the highest order for Austro-Hungarian soldiers, the Military Order of Maria Theresia.

The front was maintained until November 1918, when Hungarian troops left their positions to return to Hungary, on the order of the new Hungarian war minister (Hungary had canceled the union with Austria by October 31). After that Boroević regrouped at the Tagliamento river, then fell back to Velden, where he sent a telegram to the Emperor offering to march on Vienna to fight the anti-Habsburg revolution in the imperial capital. It is not certain whether the Emperor has been given this message (Boroević doubted it); the offer was refused on behalf of the Emperor. After the Imperial & Royal Army had been demobilized by the Emperor on November 6, Boroević was retired, by the I & R War Ministry in liquidation, by December 1, 1918.

After the war[edit]

Tomb of Boroević at the Zentralfriedhof in Vienna, Austria

After the demise and disintegration of Austria-Hungary, Boroević decided to become a citizen of the newly created Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. He was not welcome despite offering his services to the National Council of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs.[22] So he stayed in Carinthia, now Austria's southernmost state; his personal belongings, which were on transport in Slovenia, the former Austrian crownland of Carniola, were confiscated there. Boroević could not understand the mean treatment he had to experience, − the only field marshal the Southern Slavs had ever produced, as he wrote in his memoirs. He died in a hospital at Klagenfurt, the capital city of Carinthia. His body was transferred to Vienna where he was entombed at the Central Cemetery (Grave # 62 in the New Arcades to the right of the Church of St. Charles Borromeo). The grave had been paid for by the former emperor Charles, who lived in Switzerland then. He could not take part in the funeral, since he had been banished from Austria for his lifetime by the Habsburg Law since April 3, 1919.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Tucker 1996, p. 135, Horvat 1989, p. 344: "Svetozar Borojević de Bojna, Srbin s Banije (selo Borojevići kraj Mečenčana, odnosno Kostajnice)", Croatian biographical lexicon, where he was described as "of Serb Grenzer family descent", Encyclopaedia Britannica 1922, p. 1116
  2. ^ http://www.austro-hungarian-army.co.uk/biog/boroevic.htm[better source needed]
  3. ^ a b Mirnik 2009, p. 1
  4. ^ a b Dupuy 1992, p. 94: "the son of a Grenzer (border guard) officer; attended the Liebenau cadet school (1875),"
  5. ^ a b c d Pojić 2006, p. 4
  6. ^ a b Keegan-Wheatcroft 1976, p. 48: "A Croat (the Croats prided them selves on their particular loyalty to the emperor)."
  7. ^ Encyclopaedia Britannica 1922, p. 1116: "... who appointed a Serb Orthodox frontiersman (Granicar), General Boroevic, to the chief command on the Isonzo front."
  8. ^ Matica Srpska 1975: "Био је зван на ручак приликом посете познатог аустријског војсковође, пореклом Србина, Светозара Боројевића."
  9. ^ Horvat 1989, p. 344: "Svetozar Borojević de Bojna, Srbin s Banije (selo Borojevići kraj Mečenčana, odnosno Kostajnice)"
  10. ^ Hrvatski biografski leksikon, volume 2, 1989, pp. 168-169;Pojić 2006, p. 3
  11. ^ Schindler 2001, p. 46: "son of a Serbian Grenzer family from Croatia."
  12. ^ Palmer 1970: "... regiments on this front; and one of the most successful Habsburg commanders was in fact a Serb from the old 'Military Frontier' region, Marshal Svetozar Boroevic, whose family had fought for the emperors through many generations."
  13. ^ Morselli 2001, p. 41
  14. ^ Palmer 2000, p. 185
  15. ^ Tucker 1996, p. 762
  16. ^ Burg 2004, p. 67
  17. ^ Neiberg 2004, p. 47
  18. ^ May 1966, p. 92
  19. ^ Mirnik 2009, p. 62: "a car i kralj Karlo I austrijsko plemstvo njegovu bratu, pukovniku Nikoli dana 16.III. (3.V.) 1917. god."
  20. ^ Schindler 2001, p. 46
  21. ^ Tucker 2006, p. 355
  22. ^ Hrvatski biografski leksikon, volume 2, 1989, pp. 168-169

Sources[edit]

External links[edit]