Svetozar Boroević

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Svetozar Boroević von Bojna
Svetozar Borojević
Svetozar Boroëvić von Bojna 1914.jpg
Born (1856-12-13)13 December 1856
Umetić, Croatian Military Frontier, Austrian Empire (now Croatia)
Died 23 May 1920(1920-05-23) (aged 63)
Klagenfurt, First Austrian Republic (now Austria)
Allegiance  Austria-Hungary
Service/branch Austro-Hungarian Army
Years of service 1872–1918
Rank Field Marshal

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 (Austria),
Knights' Cross of the Order of Leopold,
Military Order of Maria Theresa

K.u.k. Feldmarschall Svetozar Boroević (or Borojević) (13 December 1856 – 23 May 1920) was an Austro-Hungarian field marshal who was described as one of the finest defensive strategists of the First World War.[1] He was given Austrian nobility as Baron Boroëvić von Bojna, and later rising to the rank of Field Marshal before the end of the First World War in 1918.

Private life[edit]


Boroević was born on 13 December 1856 in the village of Umetić, Croatian Military Frontier, Austrian Empire (present-day Croatia).[2] His father Adam was a Grenzer (border guard) officer,[3] his mother was Stana (née (pl. = noble) Kovarbašić von Zboriste).[2] He was baptized in the Orthodox Church, most likely in the parish church in Mečenčani, where his father served.[4]

Boroević was of Serb descent.[5][6][7][8][9][10][11] Boroević himself stated many times[12][13] that he was a Croat and that Croatia was his homeland,[4] while he is often simply called "Croatian".[4][14][15][16][17][18]


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.[3]

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 a 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 Archduke 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's Slovenia, 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.

He led to defeat the southern prong of the last Austro-Hungarian offensive at the Battle of the Piave River.[22] The front was maintained until end of October 1918, when the Italian army launched the decisive offensive of Vittorio Veneto and non-Austrian troops left their positions following the secessions of their nations from the dual monarchy (Czechs and Slovaks on October 28, South Slavs on October 29, Hungary on October 31). After that Boroević 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.[23] 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.

Boroević 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.


Honorary degree[edit]

In 1916, with the approval of the Emperor Franz Joseph I, on the proposal of the Faculty of Law and the Senate of the University of Zagreb, Svetozar Borojević and Archduke Eugen were awarded the University's highest honorary degree, Doctor Honoris Causa in the field of social sciences, for their victory over the enemy and especially for the protection of hereditary grudge, and rights and cultural progress of Croats ("Ob eximia in limitibus imperii strenue defendendis ac imprimis in Croatum paterno solo iuribus atque litterarum et artium progressu tuendis merita"). The award ceremonies were held on January 30, 1916 (for Archduke Eugen) and February 1, 1916 (for Svetozar Borojević) at the Fifth Army’s military apartment, 305 Military Field Post on the Italian front. Delegation for the award was made of Josip Šilović; Milorad Stražnicki, Dean of the Faculty of Law; Fran Barac, rector; Robert Frangeš-Mihanović, sculptor; and Andrija Kišur, clark.[24][25]

Honorary citizenship[edit]



See also[edit]


  1. ^[better source needed]
  2. ^ a b Mirnik 2009, p. 1
  3. ^ a b Dupuy 1992, p. 94: "the son of a Grenzer (border guard) officer; attended the Liebenau cadet school (1875),"
  4. ^ a b c Pojić 2006, p. 4
  5. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica 1922, p. 1116: "... who appointed a Serb Orthodox frontiersman (Granicar), General Boroević, to the chief command on the Isonzo front."
  6. ^ Matica Srpska 1975: "Био је зван на ручак приликом посете познатог аустријског војсковође, пореклом Србина, Светозара Боројевића."
  7. ^ Horvat 1989, p. 344

    Svetozar Borojević de Bojna, Srbin s Banije (selo Borojevići kraj Mečenčana, odnosno Kostajnice)

  8. ^ Hrvatski biografski leksikon. 2. 1989. pp. 168–169. [described as "of Serb Grenzer family descent"] ; Pojić 2006, p. 3
  9. ^ Schindler 2001, p. 46

    son of a Serbian Grenzer family from Croatia.

  10. ^ 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.

  11. ^ Tucker 1996, p. 135
  12. ^ Milan Pojić, Vojskovođa Svetozar Boroević 1856-1920., Hrvatski državni arhiv, Zagreb, 2006., p. 9 & 10., retireved 14 December 2017
  13. ^ Tado Oršolić, Jugozapadno talijansko bojište i maršal Borojević u dalmatinskim novinama Narodni list i Smotra Dalmatinska (1915.-1918.), p. 95. and footnote 22 on p. 95., u: Feldmaršal Svetozar barun Borojević od Bojne (1856.-1920.). Zbornik radova, Hrvatski institut za povijest, Zagreb, 2011., (editor Marino Manin, PhD), ISBN 978-953-7840-03-7
  14. ^ Palmer 2000, p. 185
  15. ^ Tucker 1996, p. 762
  16. ^ Burg 2004, p. 67
  17. ^ Neiberg 2004, p. 47
  18. ^ Keegan & Wheatcroft 1976, p. 48: "A Croat (the Croats prided them selves on their particular loyalty to the emperor)."
  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. ^ Raab, David "Battle of the Piave: Death of the Austro-Hungarian Army, 1918" (2004) pag. 77
  23. ^ Hrvatski biografski leksikon, volume 2, 1989, pp. 168-169
  24. ^ Ivan Mirnik, Dvostruki počasni doktorat Zagrebačkoga sveučilišta 1916. godine, Društvo za povjesnicu Zagrebačke nadbiskupije "Tkalčić", Zagreb, 2012., ISBN 978-953-6729-37-1, p. 16.
  25. ^ [ Honorary Doctors of the University of Zagreb 1913–2013]
  26. ^ " Agneza Szabo, Gradska uprava i privredni razvoj Karlovca 1884.-1914., p. 184., retrieved 14 December 2017" (PDF). 
  27. ^ a b c Tado Oršolić, Jugozapadno talijansko bojište i maršal Borojević u dalmatinskim novinama Narodni list i Smotra Dalmatinska (1915.-1918.), p. 98., u: Feldmaršal Svetozar barun Borojević od Bojne (1856.-1920.). Zbornik radova, Hrvatski institut za povijest, Zagreb, (editor Marino Manin, PhD), ISBN 978-953-7840-03-7
  28. ^ "Grad Zagreb službene stranice". 
  29. ^ Ivan Mirnik, Dvostruki počasni doktorat Zagrebačkoga sveučilišta 1916. godine, Društvo za povjesnicu Zagrebačke nadbiskupije "Tkalčić", Zagreb, 2012., ISBN 978-953-6729-37-1, p. 32.
  30. ^ a b Badalič, Matej. "Svetozar Boroević von Bojna - Krajevna skupnost Osek-Vitovlje". 


External links[edit]