Who's Who - Archduke Eugen

Archduke Eugen Archduke Eugen von Habsburg-Lothringen (1863-1954) was the sole royal Austro-Hungarian commander to have received regular army training, although during the First World War he was seldom permitted to undertake serious military command decisions without outside interference.

Born on 23 May 1863 at Schloss Seelowitz in Moravia, Eugen was the son of Archduke Karl Ferdinand and Archduchess Elisabeth.  His two brothers, Archduke Friedrich and Archduke Karl Stefan, as with Eugen later, held high command positions in the armed forces: the former was supreme commander of the K.U.K. Armee from 1914-17 and the latter Inspector General of the Austro-Hungarian navy.

Eugen began his military career as a Lieutenant with the Tyrolean Kaiserjager Regiment before shortly afterwards transferring to a hussar regiment.  Following training at the war academy he was assigned to the General Staff.

Unlike other royal commanders Eugen took his position and duties within the Austro-Hungarian army seriously.  He furthered his military career with his appointment as Lieutenant Colonel of Infantry Regiment 13, followed by command of the entire regiment in the capacity of Colonel.

Additional commands followed until, in 1900, he received an appointment to command XIV Army Corps at Innsbruck.  In 1908 he was made an army inspector and senior defence commander for the Tyrol.

With the Austro-Hungarian declaration of war against Serbia on 28 July 1914, Eugen's war began as a General, before being appointed on 27 December 1914 to the command of the Southern Front against Italy following General Potiorek's disastrous invasion of Serbia.  He established his headquarters at Marburg.

Nevertheless his actual role in determining strategy was limited by interference from Austro-Hungarian Chief of Staff Conrad and a succession of German allies who retained little faith in the Austro-Hungarian high command.

On 27 May 1915 Eugen's command was extended to encompass the entire Southwestern Front, thereby unifying the commands of all armies guarding the Austrian frontier with Italy.  The Southern Front itself was reorganised as Army Group Tersztyanszky.

During the spring of 1916 Eugen commanded III and XI Armies in the Trentino offensive.  Later that year, on 23 November, Eugen was promoted Field Marshal with the accession of his cousin, Emperor Karl I, to the throne.

Eugen remained on the Southwestern Front for the remainder of his war; on 11 January 1918, in the wake of the Caporetto offensive, the Italian battlefront was reorganised with the result that Eugen was effectively retired; this was subsequently made official on 21 December 1918.

Exiled from Austria after the Armistice, Eugen was eventually permitted to return in 1934.  He died in Meran, in Northern Italy, on 30 December 1954 at the age of 91.

Russia mobilised 12 million men during the war; France 8.4 million; Britain 8.9 million; Germany 11 million; Austria-Hungary 7.8 million; Italy 5.6 million; and the USA 4.3 million.

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