Who's Who - Archduke Josef Ferdinand

Archduke Josef Ferdinand Archduke Josef Ferdinand (1872-1942), a godson of Emperor Franz Josef, served as a painfully unsuccessful Austro-Hungarian field commander during World War One.

Starting the war as an infantry general in command of Third Army's XIV Corps - under General Bruderman - Josef was promoted to command of Fourth Army on 30 September 1914 following disastrous performances by both Third and Fourth Armies.

Despite the spectacular failure of the so-called 'Black-Yellow' Offensive of September 1915 Josef himself escaped blame.  Nevertheless widely regarded as a less than conscientious commander by professional contemporaries - with a penchant for hunting expeditions - Josef's firm belief in the impregnability of his defences in Galicia was summarily demolished with the stunningly successful unleashing of the Russian Brusilov Offensive at Lutsk on 4 June 1916.

Alexei Brusilov's offensive almost succeeded in entirely demolishing the Austro-Hungarian army and brought about the loss or capture of 130,000 of Josef's force within the first two days.

Josef's military career was consequently at an end when Germany, Austria-Hungary's dominant ally, required Josef's dismissal in the wake of such a comprehensive defeat.

After the armistice and subsequent revolution Josef settled in Vienna as a commoner.  He married twice, first in 1921 to Rosa Kaltenbrunner and then again in 1929 (following the death of his first wife in 1928) to Gertrude Tomanek von Beyerfels-Mondsee.  He had two sons and a daughter by his second marriage.

With the German occupation of Austria in 1938 Josef found himself arrested by the Gestapo and charged with questionable behaviour.  Having spent three months at a concentration camp - which broke his health - he was release to live a solitary existence in Vienna under the watchful eye of the Gestapo.

He died on 28 February 1942 at the age of 69.

Battle Police were military policemen deployed behind an attack to intercept stragglers.

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