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Svetozar Boroević
Austro-Hungarian field marshal

Svetozar Boroević

Svetozar Boroević
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro Austro-Hungarian field marshal
Was Military personnel Educator
From Austria
Field Academia Military
Gender male
Birth 13 December 1856, Umetić
Death 23 May 1920, Klagenfurt (aged 63 years)
Svetozar Boroević
The details (from wikipedia)


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. 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


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

Boroević was of Serb descent. Boroević himself stated once that he was a Croat and that Croatia was his homeland, while he is often simply called "Croatian".


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

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

Early career

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.

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. 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

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'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. 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. 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

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. 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.

The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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