František Zach ([ˈfrancɪʃɛk ˈzax]; Serbian: Франтишек Зах/František Zah; 1 May 1807 – 14 January 1892), known as Franjo Zah (Фрањо Зах), was a Czech-born soldier and military theorist, best known for being the first acting General and Chief of the General Staff of the Principality of Serbia from 1876 to 1877.
Zach was known for being a flamboyant freedom fighter and Pan-Slavist, fighting in both the November Uprising in Poland of 1830, as well as in Serbia during the latter half of the 19th century. He played a vital role in the formation of the Načertanije in 1844, which later served as a guideline for the unification of Serbs divided by Ottoman and Austria-Hungary rule.
František Alexander Zach (Франтишек Александар Зах) was born on 19 April 1807 in Olomouc, a town in the Margraviate of Moravia, then part of the Austrian Empire (now Czech Republic). His father was a landlord, who soon after his birth inherited the roadside tavern "At the Black Eagle" in Brno. He finished gymnasium in Brno in 1824, and the Faculty of Law at the University of Vienna, then worked as a clerk in numerous locations across Moravia.
He participated in the failed 1830–31 rebellion in Russian Poland. He then emigrated, first to France in 1832 where he studied military theory, then joined the circle of Polish magnate Adam Czartoryski. As Czartoryski's trusted man, he was sent in late 1843 to Belgrade, the capital of the Principality of Serbia. He very quickly found himself at home in Serbia, and entered the elite, befriending influential statesman Ilija Garašanin.
Zach participated in the 1848 Slavic Congress as a member of the Czech-Slovak delegation. Upon returning to Belgrade in 1849, Zach founded the Belgrade artillery school where he became its supervisor and tutor and worked there for an extensive amount of time. The school later became the Belgrade Military Academy. Zach was also the founder of artillery arms factory that still exist today in Kragujevac, Serbia, known as Zastava Arms. Later on, he became the military advisor for prince Mihailo Obrenović, who later gave Zach the commission of General. Zach was historically the first modern Serbian general to have a full military commission, and the first Czech ever to reach such a high commission whilst serving abroad. He was heavily wounded and lost his leg in 1876 while leading the Ibar Army against the Ottomans. General Ranko Alimpić and General Milojko Lešjanin commanded the Drina Army and Timok Army, respectively. He signed the ratification of the Greek–Serbian Alliance in November 1868.
Zach died in Brno in 1892 after retiring from a long military career and being disappointed with politics. A street in Brno (Czech Republic), as well as in Belgrade (Serbia) was named after him in his honor. In his native Olomouc, there is a museum dedicated to him.
He was awared Order of the White Eagle and a number of other decorations.
- general (general), 1875
- artillery colonel (pukovnik), 1870
- artillery lieutenant colonel (potpukovnik), 1862
- artillery major (major), 1857
- artillery captain (kapetan), 1850
Zah was pensioned in 1883.
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