Chapter 2: Military Service in Austria-Hungary 1914

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App. A: Index of German terms used by the Austro-Hungarian army during WWI
App. B: Index of Hungarian terms used by the Austro-Hungarian army during WWI
App. C: Officers, Military Officials and Non-Commissioned Officers

The aim of this chapter is to give the collector sufficient background knowledge of the way that the Austro-Hungarian army was formed and manned, so that identification of units etc whose rubber stamps appear on items of mail can be made more thorough and interesting. It is a vast and complicated subject and this can only be a brief introduction to it.

Every male in the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy had to be available for military service from 1st January of the year in which his 19th birthday fell until 31st December of the year in which he became 42. The population was made up of many races, each with its own language: German speaking Austrians, Hungarians, Czechs, Slovaks, Poles, Ruthenians, Croats, Serbs, Slovenes, Romanians, Italians and Islamic Slavs. Thus it was necessary to arrange, whenever possible, that men from one area who spoke one tongue, served together. The Army therefore was based upon a 'territorial' model, and the Monarchy was broken down into areas for manning purposes. These areas were called Ergänzungsbezirke; literally, districts that found complements of men for the Army and the Navy. On the same lines the Army was organised in peacetime in sixteen corps Districts (Militärterritorial(Korps)bezirke), each having under command a number of divisions, each with its own brigades, and all units that it required to operate in the field.

As an example, XII Korps was based on Hermannstadt, with 16 and 35ID there, and 38HID at Klausenberg; all within Transylvania. The eight IR and four HIR that made up the six brigades of these divisions found their men from that area, and the languages spoken by them were German, Magyar or Romanian. In some units all three tongues were used, but it was normal for the one used by the majority to become the regimental language (Regimentssprache). Commands were given and written in German, except in the Honvéd where Magyar was used; all men had to learn enough German to understand the essential words in use. In the Honvéd, Magyar was the language of command, but when operating with other parts of the army as a whole, even the Honvéd had to understand German. Details of the districts mentioned in this paragraph will be found in Chapter 3, where the appendices show just how they were organised and what the formations were that each was interested in.

Certain abbreviations have been introduced already. These and many others, together with a selection of military terms, in both German and Magyar, will be found at Appendices A and B to this chapter.

Reference has already been made to the Honvéd, and so the next step is to explain the parts that this Army was made up from. For there were three elements, separate in many ways, in which the man might do his full time service. The size of each was governed by two factors. First of all the General Staff decided what size and shape of Army was required to meet the defence plans as agreed with the Foreign Office and the Monarch. Secondly, and totally limiting in peacetime, there was the amount of money voted by the Parliaments in Wien and Budapest. This second factor controlled the number of men that could be called for full time service each year. Thus only about a fifth of those actually available were called up in the years immediately prior to 1914, and it was not unknown for a man's full time service to be cut when the money was short! For in addition to the pay of the men, there was still equipment to be renewed and new items to introduce as well as day-to-day running costs. The result was that the Austro-Hungarian Army that mobilised in 1914 was not really ready for modern war on the scale that it had to face. And it paid the price.

So to the three parts of the Army. First of all was the so-called Common Army with its unit titles preceded by the letters k.u.k. [see Chapter 1 for an explanation of the k formula!]. Next were the armies of the two parts of the Monarchy; the k.k. Landwehr and its Hungarian counterpart, the Honvéd.

Reference has already been made to the fact that each man had to be available for military service between the ages of 19 and 42. This was called his Landsturmaufgebot: that is, military forces service. The whole span of 24 years was divided into two parts: from 19 to 37 and from 38 to 42. Men found fit and suitable from each Erganzungsbezirk were selected for full time service to begin on the 1st January of the year in which their 21st birthday fell. With the exception of those who went to the cavalry or artillery (who did three years), all did two years full time service with one part or another of the Army. Selection for the kuk, kk, or ku elements was a matter of ballot and race. Once a man had completed his full time service, he was placed on the reserve for 10 years (7 in the case of the cavalry and artillery). During this time he had to do three periods of four weeks training if he had served in the kuk army. A kk Landwehr man did a total of 20 weeks training in his entire reserve time, and the Honvéd man did 25 weeks.

At the end of the period on the reserve the man was placed on the Landsturm rolls of his district and there did no further training but had to be available up to the age of 42. Both the kk Landsturm and its Hungarian counterpart, M.kir. Népfelkelö formed no units until required, and then the plan was for the kk part to form infantry units only, while the ku part was to form infantry and cavalry units. During the war both parts formed units of many kinds to meet the needs of the moment, and the top age for Landsturm service was raised to 50 and later to 55; with the proviso that men aged between 50 and 55 would only be required to perform essential but unarmed military tasks.

It should be remembered that there was a great number of men who did no full time service. Those that were physically fit took the Oath of Allegiance and were placed on a general list called the Ersatz Reserve. Certain categories of men were placed automatically in this reserve: sole dependants of families, schoolmasters, seminary students and certain classes of forestry and agricultural workers for example. Men on the Ersatz Reserve did ten weeks basic military training and remained liable for full time service in peace and war, being placed on their Landsturm rolls at the age of 33.

A word must be interjected here about the Navy. As noted in Appendix B to Chapter 3, there were certain Ergänzungsbezirke (3) that found men for the Kriegsmarine. Once they had done their full time service of four years, they did five on the reserve and then a further three with the kuk Seewehr, the equivalent of the Landwehr, before going on the naval Landsturm rolls.

Men from Bosnia-Herzegovina did two years full time service with bosnian-herzegovinian regiments of infantry and other units reserved for them. There was no Landwehr or Landsturm in these provinces and after their full time service, they were transferred to the First Reserve, and then as they became older, to the Second and Third Reserves.

Thus far the conscript has been dealt with. Now it is time to consider those who volunteered for military service. Men could volunteer to serve as regular soldiers provided they conformed to the nationality, age and health requirements, and were not criminals. Recruits under the age of 19 could be accepted with their father's permission. Foreigners could join with the sanction of the Monarch and of their own government. Regular soldiers normally served only with k.u.k. units, but up to five percent of the soldiers in both the k.k. Landwehr and k.u. Honvéd were permitted to be regulars. They served in the first instance for three years and could then re-engage for periods of three years at a time. Reserve service was expected of them on retirement.

Appendix C to this chapter explains the Officer Corps in peace and war, and also includes details of Military Officials. In addition there were One-Year Volunteers (Einjährig- Freiwillige), who were better educated men who could finish their professional etc studies before serving for one year, which had to be completed before their 24th birthday. Details of these and of Non-Commissioned 0fficers are also at Appendix C.

Once the war began, transfer to the reserve was suspended, the minimum age for recruitment was dropped to 18 and, as has been noted already, the maximum age for service was raised to 50 and later to 55. The system explained in this chapter was designed to provide a large pool of trained men who could be, and were, called upon to serve in time of need.


Appendix A to Chapter 2

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This Index is designed to assist the collector of Austrian Feldpost items 1914-18 to understand the unit etc marks upon those items. It is not meant to show every unit designation, but collectors ought to be able to work out from it most of the unit titles they see that are in the German language. Hungarian titles are dealt with in Appendix B. The full stops used in unit titles and abbreviations by the Austrian army have not been shown here. For example k.u.k. has been shown as kuk.

AA, AAbtlgArtillerieabteilung = artillery unit
Abt, AbtlgAbteilung = unit (small unit in fact)
AOKArmeeoberkommando = general headquarters
ARArtillerieregiment = artillery regiment
Arb AbtArbeiterabteilung = labour unit
BaonBataillon = battalion
bhbosnisch-herzegowinish = bosnian-herzegovinian
BHDBosnien, Herzegowina, Dalmatien (Kommando)
BkBaon, -KompBrückenbataillon, -Kompagnie = bridging battalion, -company
BkschKompBrückenschutzkompagnie = bridge protection company
BOKOberkommando der Balkanstreitkrafte = headquarters Balkan forces
BtBatterie = battery
ddeutsche = german
DetDetachement = detachment
DionDivision = division
DionsKavDivisionskavallerie = divisional cavalry
DOHLDeutsche Oberste Heeresleitung = German Army Supreme HQ
DR, HR, URDragoner-, Husaren-, Ulanenregiment = dragoon-, hussar-, uhlan regiment
EisSichAbtlgEisenbahnsicherungsabteilung = railway security unit
EREisenbahnregiment = railway regiment
EskEskadron = squadron (from Jun 17, Schwadron was used)
FFeld = field
FaBrigFeldartilleriebrigade = field artillery brigade
FHR, FHDFeldhaubitzenregiment, -dion = field howitzer regiment, -division
FJBFeldjägerbataillon = rifle battalion (light infantry)
FKR, FKDFeldkanonenregiment, -dion = field cannon regiment ,-division
FlakBt, -ZugFliegerkanonenbatterie, -zug = antiaircraft battery, -platoon
FliegKomp, -AbtlgFliegerkompagnie, -unit = aircraft company, -unit
FlwFlammenwerfer = flamethrower
FrwFreiwilligen = volunteer
FrwSchBaonFreiwilliges Schützenbatallion = volunteer rifle battalion
FsAR, -Baon, -KompFestungsartillerieregiment, bataillon, kompagnie = fortress artillery regiment, battalion, company
FsIBaonFestungsinfanteriebataillon = fortress infantry battallion
GbARGebirgsartillerieregiment = mountain artillery regiment
GbBrigGebirgsbrigade = mountain brigade
GbSchRGebirgsschützenregiment = mountain Landwehr regiment
GendBaonGendarmeriebataillon = gendarmeriebattalion
GrJgKomp, GrJKompGrenzjägerkompagnie = border rifle company
GrpGruppe = group
GrzSchutzKompGrenzschutzkompagnie = border guard company
HHonvéd = hungarian Landwehr (see below)
HaBrigHalbbrigade = half brigade
HbHaubitze = howitzer
HochgbKompHochgebirgskompagnie = high mountain company
IBaonInfanteriebataillon = infantry battalion
IBrigInfanteriebrigade = infantry brigade
ID (ITD)Infanteriedivision (Infanterie TruppenDivision) = infantry (troops) division
KavKpsKavalleriekorps = cavalry corps
KavSchD, -RKavallerieschützendivision, -regiment = cavalry Landwehr division, -regiment
KBrigKavalleriebrigade = cavalry brigade
KD (KTD)Kavalleriedivision (Kavallerie Truppen Division) = cavalry (troops) division
KJR, -B, -BrigKaiserjagerregirnent (Tiroler KaiserJager Regiment) , -Bataillon, -Brigade = Tirolean rifleregiment
Kmdo, KmdtKommando, Kommandant = headquarters, commander
KombKombinierte = combined
KompKompagnie = company
KpsKorps = corps
KnKanone = cannon (ie gun not howitzer)
KSchBrig, -RKaiserschützenbrigade, -regiment = see Landwehr (below)
LdwrLandwehr - see detail below
LID (LTD)Landwehrinfanteriedivision (Landwehr Truppen Division = Landwehr infantry (troops) division
LstEtBaonLandsturmetappenbataillon = Landsturm lines of communication battalion
MaBrig, -R, -Baon, -KompMarschbrigade, etc = reinforcement brigade etc
MG, -AbtlgMaschinengewehr, -abteilung = machine gun,-unit
MsMörser = mortar
MW, -AbtlgMinenwerfer, -abteilung = mine thrower, -unit
PBPionierbataillon = pioneer battalion
öst-ungösterreichisch-ungarisch = austrian-hungarian
RdfBaon, -KompRadfahrerbaon, -komp = cyclist battalion, -company
rtADreitende Artilleriedivision = mounted artillery division (with cavalry division)
rtDSch, -Dreitende Dalmatiner Schützen, -division = mounted Dalmatian rifles, -division
rtSchRreitende Schützenregiment, -division = mounted rifle regiment, -division
rtTKSchDreitende Tiroler Kaiserschützendivision = mounted Tirolean rifles division
SapAbtlg, SAbtlg Sappeurabteilung = sapper unit
SBSappeurbataillon = sapper battalion
SchD, -Brig , -R, -BaonSchützendivision, etc see Landwehr below
SchwdSchwadron = squadron
selbstgselbständig = independent
sARschwereArtillerieregiment = heavy artillery regiment
StBaon, -HaBaon, -RSturmbataillon, halbbataillon, -regiment = storm battalion, -half battalion, -regiment
StSchBaonStandschützenbataillon = Rifle club battalion (from the Tirol or Vorarlberg)
Terr BrigTerritorialbrigade = territorial brigade
TFKnBtTiroler Feldkanonenbatterie = Tirolean field gun battery
TLstBaonTiroler Landsturmbataillon
Zug= platoon


at 1914from May 1917
kk Landwehrinfanterieregiment, etc (kk LIR Nr-)Schützenregiment etc (SchR Nr-)
Landesschützenregiment (LSchR I etc)Kaiserschützenregiment (KSchR I etc)
kk Landwehrulanenregiment (LUR)reitende Schützenregiment (rtSchR Nr-)


Honvéd = ku Landwehr

HIR = Honvédinfanterieregiment

HHR = Honvédhusarenregiment

HFAR = Honvédfeldartillerieregiment


Appendix B to Chapter 2

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This Index gives the terms that collectors can find on items of military mail emanating from the Hungarian units of the Austro-Hungarian army 1914-18. lt is not exhaustive. Listed are abbreviations where known, and the German and English meaning of the terms, where this is possible. The full stops used in unit titles and abbreviations are not shown here unless they clarify the meaning. All 'double dotted Os' are printed ö even if they should be ő.

Ágyuá, ágyGeschütz- = gun
ágyus-ütegá-ü, ágy.ütGeschützbatterie = gun battery
Aknavetö Minenwerfer = mine thrower
Alezredes Oberstleutnant = lieutenant colonel
Állomás Station = place where troops are stationed
Altábornagy Generalleutnant = lieutenant general
altiszt Unteroffizier = non-commissioned officer
beosztottbeosztzugeteilt = attached
bosnia- hercegovinaibhbosnisch-herzegowinisch = bosnian- herzegovinian
császár és királics.és kirk.u.k.
császár királics. kk.k.
csendör (ség) Gendarme (rie)
dandárddar, ddrBrigade
déldSüd = south
dél-keletd.kSüdost = south east
délutandutNachmittag = afternoon
élelem Lebensmittel = food
elesett gefahlen = fallen, ie killed in action
ellenségellFeind = enemy
elöjarörelöirStreife = patrol
északéNord = north
észak-keleté.kNordost = north east
észak-nyugaté.nyNordwest = north west
ezrede, ez, ezrRegiment
ezredes Oberst = colonel
fegyver Waffe = weapon
fegyver gyakorlat Manöver = manoeuvre
fényszóró Scheinwerfer = searchlight
föhadnagy Oberleutnant = lieutenant
folyó évif.edieses Jahr = this year
folyó hóf.hdieser Monat = this month
gépfegyver, géppuskagépfgy, g.f, g.pMaschinengewehr = machine gun
géppuska osztagg.p.oMaschinengewehr Abteilung = machine gun detachment/section
gyalog dandárgy.ddárInfanteriebrigade
gyalog ezredgy.e, gy.ezrInfanterieregiment
gyalog hadosztálygy.hdotlyInfanteriedivision
gyálogsági tábornokgy.tbkGeneral der Infanterie
hadbiróhdbKriegsgerichtrat = judge advocate
hadifogoly Kriegsgefangener = prisoner of war
hadnagyhgyLeutnant = 2nd lieutenant
hadtáp Etappen = communications zone
hadtesthdtKorps = corps (army corps)
határ (orség) Grenz(wache)=border( guard)
hegyi agyusüteghgy.a.ügGebirgsgeschützbatterie = mountain gun battery
hegyi dandárhgyddárGebirgsbrigade = mountain brigade
hegyi tarackosüteghgy.tar.ügGebirgshaubitzbatterie = mountain howitzer battery
hegyi tüzérezredhgy.t.eGebirgeartillerieregiment
hegyi üteghgy.ügGebirgsbatterie = mountain gun battery
hely Platz = unit site
hid (fö) Bruck(enkopf) = bridge(head)
hidász Pionier = pioneer
honvédhHonvéd (k.u.Landwehr) = father-land's defender
huszár ezredhsz.eHusarenregiment = hussar regiment
ismeretlen unbekannt = unknown
katonaikatmilitärisch = military
keletkOst = east
kerékparoskerpRadfahrer = cyclist
keruletkertBezirk = district
királyikirKöniglich = royal
kórház Spital = hospital
közigazgatásiközigazVerwaltungs- = administrative
lángszóró, lángvetó Flammenwerfer = flame thrower
legi Luft- = air-
ló- Pferde = horse-
lovasságlovKavallerie = cavalry
lovasszági tábornokl.tbkGeneral der Kavallerie = general of cavalry
lovasszázadloszdEskadron oder Schwadron = squadron
magyar királyim.kirk.u.
megfigyelö Beobachtungs- = observation-
meghalt gestorben = deceased
mozsár Mörser = mortar
munkás Arbeiter = labourer
müszaki Genie- = engineer-
nagy gyakorlat Waffenübung = weapons exercise
nehéz (tarack)n.(t)schwer (haubitz) = heavy (howitzer)
népfelkelönépfk.u. Landsturm
örmester Feldwebel, Wachtmeister = sergeant
örség Wache = guard
örvezeöörvGefreiter = lance corporal
oszloposzlStaffel = echelon
osztagotgAbteilung = section
parancsnokságparnságKommando = headquarters
parancsokparnokP>Befehl =order
parancsok folytapa. folytaim Auftrag = by order
part (védelem) Küsten(schutz) = coast (protection)
pékség Bäckerei = bakery
példáulpldzum Beispiel = for instance
pótszázadpótszdMarschkompagnie = march compäny
pótzászlóaljpótzljMarschbaon = march battalion
puska Gewehr = rifle
rendörség Polizei = police
repülö Flieger- = air-
roham- Sturm- = storm-
rokkant Invalid = disabled person, invalid
szabadságoltszbgltin Urlaub gehen = on leave
szakaszszkZug = platoon
szakaszvezetö Zugsführer = platoon leader
századszd, szKompagnie = company
századosszdosHauptmann = captain
tábor Lager = camp
tábori Feld- = field-
tábori ágyusütegtab.ágytegFeldgeschützenbatterie = field gun battery
tábori örst.öVorposten = advanced post picket
tábori tarackosütegtáb.tar.ütgFeldhaubitzbatterie = field howitzer battery
tábori vadaszzászlóaljtáb.vadzlyFeldjägerbatailon = rifle battalion
tarackütegt.üHaubitzbatterie = howitzer battery
tiszt Offizier = officer
tizedes Korporal
utána nachzusenden = to relieve, reliefs
utászszázadu.szSappeurkompagnie = sapper company
utászzászlóaljutszliSappeurbataillon = sapper battalion
ütegü, üg, ütBatterie
vadász Jäger = rifleman or rifleunit
vár Festung = fortress
vártüzérzászlóaljv.t.zljFestungsartilleriebaon = fortress artillery battalion
vasut (biztositó) Feldbahnsicherungs = field railway security
vasut (épitö) Feldbahn(bau) = field railway (construction)
védelem Schutz = protection
vezérezredes Generaloberst = colonel general
vezérkár Generalstab = general staff
vezérörnagy Generalmajor = major general
vonat Train, Zug, Bahn = railway train
zászlóaljzszlj, zljBataillon = battalion
zászlós Fähnrich = ensign


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COMBATANT OFFICERS (Offiziere des Soldatenstandes)


1. The Austro-Hungarian Army was remarkable for the number of different corps of officers and different kinds of military officials.

2. All officers and military officials who drew a salary - as opposed to rank and file (Mannschaft) - and aspirant officers and aspirant officials, who were paid at daily rates (Löhnungbeziehen), were known as Gagisten.

3. The term Gagist included, besides all officers and officials graded as officers, certain military officials who had no place in the hierarchy of officers, and who were known as Gagisten ohne Rangklasse; these latter were regarded as combatants (Personen des Soldatenstandes).

4. In Austria-Hungary, not only in the Army and Navy but also in the Civil Service, all officers, officials and civil servants were graded in one of twelve hierarchic classes (Rangklassen), both for purposes of pay and of general precedence. These classes, with their corresponding military ranks, may be set out as follows:

3rdGeneral9thHauptmann, Rittmeister
6thOberst12thGagisten ohne Rangklasse

5. The following list shows the categories of officers and officials covered by the term Gagist.

The Roman numeral in front of each category above denotes the place in order of precedence (Rangordnung) of officers etc of that category. Thus a chaplain of the 6th Rangklasse took precedence over a medical officer of the same Rangklasse.


COMBATANT OFFICERS (Offiziere des Soldatenstandes)

6. The grades of combatant officers were as in the following sub-paragraphs. For badges of rank see paragraph 29.

a. General Officers (Generalität)

FeldmarshallFMA rank that was rare before 1917.
GeneraloberstGOA rank not known in the British Army, and rare in the Austro-Hungarian Army until late in the war. Prior to that normally held by the Generalstabschef.
General der InfanterieGdIThese three ranks equate to that of General and were held by senior officers of the arm indicated, normally as army commanders.
General der KavallerieGdK
Feldzeugmeister (General of Artillery)FZM
FeldmarshalleutnantFMLA rank normally held by corps commanders.
GeneralmajorGMA rank held by divisional commanders, and sometimes by brigade commanders.

b. Regimental Officers (Offiziere der Truppenkörper)

OberstObstA rank normally held by regimental commanders, sometimes by brigade commanders
OberstleutenantObstlt A rank normally held by the second-in-command of a regiment.
MajorMjrThe normal rank for a battalion commander.

The above three ranks were field officers (Stabsoffiziere)

HauptmannHptmA captain of infantry, artillery or engineers.
RittmeisterRtmrA captain of cavalry or train.
LeutnantLt2nd Lieutenant.

c. General Staff Officers, belonging either to the Generalstabskorps, the Artillery Staff (Artilleriestab) or to the Engineer Staff (Geniestab). The officers of the General Staff were normally divided into three categories as follows:

d. Engineer Officers (Ingenieuroffiziere); officers of the Clothing and Equipment Branch (Monturverwaltungsbranche); officers of the Corps of Quartermasters (Proviantoffiziere); and officers of the Armeestand - see paragraph 17.


1. Included among the Engineer Officers were the military construction engineers upon whom devolved the construction and maintenance of such buildings and works as did not form part of actual fortifications. The various ranks of these officers and their respective grades (Rangklassen) were as follows:

6thMiliärbauoberingenieur 1 Kl.
7thMilitärbauoberingenieur 2 Kl.
8thMilitärbauoberingenieur 3 Kl.

2. Officers of the Clothing and Equipment Branch had no special title, but retained their normal regimental rank.

3. The highest rank in the Corps of Quartermasters was that of captain.

4. Officers of the Technical Artillery, who supervised the ordnance factories and depots in peacetime, and on mobilisation saw to the care and repair of small arms and artillery equipments, were known as Artillerieingenieure. They ranked as combatant officers and were graded like the officers of military works in Note 1. above, from an Artilleriegeneralingeneur to an Artillerieingenieurassistent.



7. Aspirant officers were classified as combatants (Personen des Soldatenstandes) but not as combatant officers, though in practice ensigns, cadets and aspirant cadets performed the duties of combatant officers in war. Such officers included:

8. Aspirant officials were of two categories: combatant (Beamtenaspiranten des Soldatenstandes) and non-combatant (Militärbeamtenaspiranten). Among the former were Deputy-Assistant Supply Officers (Verpflegssaksessiststellvertreter) and Aspirant Supply Officers (Verpflegsaspiranten)

9. In 1909 the rank of aspirant officer or aspirant official was given to the above, in order to improve their military and social status; formerly they had come under the category of non-commissioned officers. Only ensigns, cadets and aspirant cadets, however, ranked as subaltern officers and were admitted as members of the officers mess of the unit to which they belonged. All aspirant officers and aspirant officials were classified in the 12th Rangklasse.


10. The various ranks of non-combatant officers and their respective grades (Rangklassen) are shown in Annex 1 to this appendix.


11. The various ranks of officials and their respective grades (Rangklassen) are shown in Annex 2 to this appendix.



12. In the Austro-Hungarian Army the promotion of all officers and of higher officials was the prerogative of the Monarch; that of the lower officials took place through the k.u.k. Kriegsministerium.

13. For the purposes of promotion up to and including the rank of Oberstleutnant officers were classified in thirteen groups. These were known as Konkretualstände, each branch having a separate list of seniority:

14. In principle, promotion went by seniority up to and including the rank of Major; by selection and seniority for higher ranks up to the rank of Generalmajor; and by selection entirely above that rank. The Monarch, however, could promote officers out of their turn (aussertourlich). In peace-time before an officer could be promoted to the rank of captain he must first pass satisfactorily through a course at a Korpsoffiziersschule. Before promotion to field officer (Stabsoffizier) an officer of the k.u.k. Army must have passed successfully a test in tactical fitness (Stabsoffizierprufing); if he belonged to the k.k. Landwehr or the Honvéd, he must have passed a similar course held at Wien or Budapest.

15. Accelerated promotion was given to Oberleutenant and Hauptmann/Rittmeister of the Generalstabskorps, Geniestab and Artilleriestab. No promotion, however, could take place unless the confidential report (Qualifikationsliste) was favourable.

16. There were no compulsory rules for the age of retirement of officers, but as a general principle, they were retired at the age of 60, or after 40 years of service.

17. A certain number of combatant officers of the k.u.k. Army, who were employed permanently in certain civilian or semi-military appointments for which they were specially qualified, but who on account of age or some physical defect were unsuitable for active service, were classified as belonging to the Armeestand. In the k.k. Landwehr and Honvéd, such officers were known as Offiziere in Lokalanstellungen. There were three categories of officers in the Armeestand: Officers specially employed; Officers in sedentary duties; Officers employed in the Chancelleries (Kanzlein) and auxiliary services.

18. Before the war the average lengths of service in the various ranks was as follows:

Fähnrich2 years
Leutnant3-4 years
Oberleutnant6-7 years
Hauptmann12-13 years
Major5 years
Oberstleutnant3 years


19. Recruitment of Officers in peace time: Officers were normally recruited either from cadet schools, from the military academies - for which special preparatory schools existed - or from one-year volunteers (Einjährig Freiwillige). There was also at Hirtenburg a school for the orphan sons of officers (Offizierswaiseninstitut). These military educational establishments were known as Militär-Erziehungs und Bildungsanstalten, and were grouped under a general inspector.

a. The Cadet Schools (Kadettenschulen). These could be entered between the years of 14 and 18. The course lasted four years, after which the young men were posted to the Army as Fähnriche with non-commissioned rank, eventually rising to the commissioned rank of Leutnant after another two years. The first three years of the course were devoted to general education, the last year to military education. For the k.u.k. Army fourteen such schools existed: Wien; Budapest; Prag; Karlstadt; Königsfeld, near Brunn; Lemberg; Nagyszeben; Liebenau; Innsbruck; Temesvár; Kamenica, near Peterwardein; Hainburg (for engineers); Mährisch-Weisskirchen (for cavalry); and Traiskirchen (for artillery). For the k.k. Landwehr and the Honvéd there were similar schools at Wien, Pecs and Nagyvárad.

b. The Preparatory Schools (Militärrealschulen). These were affiliated to the military academies and were intended for officers sons. Youths entered the lower schools (Unterrealschulen) between the ages of 10 and 12, and passed thence into the upper schools (Oberrealschulen) between the ages of 14 and 16, out of which they passed into the military academies between the ages of 18 and 20.

c. The Military Academies (Militärakademien) might be entered at the age of 18 by those who had finished their studies at an Oberrealschule. After a three years course, students were passed out into the various branches of the Army with the rank of Leutnant. The four military academies were:

d. The One-Year Volunteers (Einjährig Freiwillige) were young men who had reached a certain standard of education and undertook to clothe, feed and equip themselves; and in the mounted branches, to supply their own horse and saddlery. At the end of a year with the colours they could either continue their service with the active army, or be passed into the reserve; in both cases they then took an examination qualifying them to become officers. After passing this examination they were given the rank of ensign on probation (Probe-Fähnrich). Then after a further examination they were appointed Fähnriche, ranking in seniority after those who had attained the rank of Fähnrich by passing through the Cadet Schools. Those who were passed into the reserve, after passing the examination qualifying them to become officers, automatically in course of time attained the rank of Fähnrich in the Reserve.

Thus it came about that in peace-time, for aspirant officers qualifying through the Cadet Schools and for one-year volunteers, the attainment of the rank of Fähnrich meant that an officer's commission would follow automatically - generally within two years - while for aspirant officers qualifying through the Military Academies the commission followed the successful passing of the final examination without the intermediary rank of Fähnrich having to be attained. The rank of Fähnrich could not be attained by promotion from the ranks.

20. Recruitment of Officers during the war:

a. Whereas before the war the standard of education required of aspirant officers was that of the Realschule and Gymnasium, after the outbreak of war it was lowered to that of the Mittelschule. The volunteer system was considerably enlarged at the same time, and in addition to the Cadet Schools, a large number of schools for reserve officers (Reserveoffiziersschulen) were instituted. The promotion of one-year volunteers was also much accelerated through the various non-commissioned ranks; suitable one-year volunteers, who had successfully done duty at a depot as draft instructors (see paragraph 22a), could be put on the list of Kadettaspiranten (see Note below), and as such, could after two months service with a unit in the field, or as a result of distinguished services, be appointed a Reserve Cadet - see sub-paragraph c. below. The promotion of reserve cadets to reserve ensigns and thence to reserve officers followed in due course.

NOTE. Kadettaspirant was the title given to those one-year volunteers and war volunteers (Kriegsfreiwillige) whose standard of education qualified them for service with the active army (Präsenzdienst): they must have passed through a course (Kriegskurs) at a school for reserve officers and apart from their theoretical and practical suitability, have possessed the necessary moral and social qualifications, thereby entitling them to wear the one-year volunteer button.

b. It was through the schools for reserve officers that the bulk of officers commissioned during the war had to pass. As the war progressed, the demand for an increase in the number of officers was met by the granting of commissions not in the active army but in the reserve.

c. During the war officers in the reserve were recruited mainly from reserve cadets (Kadetten in der Reserve); these in their turn were recruited from:



21. The training of Officers in peace-time: apart from the elementary training of officers as outlined in paragraph 19, instruction at institutes and courses for officers may be divided under two general headings:
a. Institutes and courses dealing with higher military education in general.
b. Institutes and courses dealing with particular branches and special subjects

The former included the Kriegsschule, the Korpsoffiziersschulen and Landwehr courses for officers; referred to in paragraph 14. The latter included cavalry, pioneers, musketry, fencing and gymnastics, medical, veterinary and aviation schools; field, fortress and mountain artillery schools; higher artillery and engineer courses (from the graduates of which the artillery and engineer staffs were recruited); military equitation institutes, artillery riding courses, transport courses and courses for technical troops. And also an infantry and cavalry telegraph course, and courses in military administration (intendance, supply etc).

22. The training of Officers in wartime: early in 1915 the following regulations were laid down for the training of one-year volunteers, war volunteers and Landsturm with the one-year volunteer badge; the training differed according to the arm of service which the aspirant officer or cadet entered.

a. Infantry and Jäger, Train and Medical Services:

b. Cavalry, Artillery and Technical Troops:



23. In peace-time non-commissioned officers were obtained solely by promotion in the ranks. See paragraph 29 for their badges of rank. Courses were held during the winter months in the various units for their training and promotion.

24. Non-commissioned officers could not marry without the permission of their commanding officer. This permission was not granted unless the marriage would improve the material situation of the individuals in question. Two scales of marriage were open to non-commissioned officers:
a. Ehe der ersten Art, in which the couple received lodging and furniture free, and the wife, in the absence of the husband on active service, received a ration of food. The number of marriages on this scale were limited.
b. Ehe der zweiten Art, in which no lodging was provided or food ration allowed.

25. In the middle of 1915 non-commissioned officers were classified in two grades: a higher (höhere Unteroffiziere) and a lower (niedere Unterofiziere). The former were graded in the 12th Rangklasse, but took precedence before the Gagisten ohne Rangklasse, and comprised the two ranks of:

a. Offizierstellvertreter or acting officer. This rank was created in June 1915, partly to facilitate the replacement of subaltern officers, ensigns and platoon commanders by non-commissioned officers with the additional authority conferred by this rank, and partly to make it possible to reward senior non-commissioned officers who had rendered distinguished services in the field, and to stimulate them by opening out to them the chance of promotion to this higher rank. Only non-commissioned officers who had served at least one month in the field as Stabsunteroffiziere (see sub-paragraph b below) were eligible for promotion to Offizierstellvertreter. The rank (Charge) did not carry with it the right to use the term as a title (Titel). Though treated as officers in the field, they were not entitled to the privileges of permanent commissioned rank.

b. Stabsunteroffizier. These were styled Stabsfeldwebel if they belonged to the infantry or technical troops; Stabsoberjäger if they were Jäger; Stabswachtmeister if they were cavalry: or Stabsfeuerwerker if they belonged to the artillery. They had to be able, if necessary, to perform the duties of, although they could never replace, a subaltern officer. Their main function was that of 'inspection officer' of the battalion, half-regiment (if cavalry) or section (if artillery) to which they belonged; while their powers were similar to those of an Offizierstellvertreter, their privileges were similar to those of a Feldwebel.

26. Non-commissioned officers of the lower grade (niedere Unteroffiziere) bore the following ranks:

Approximate British equivalentslance-corporalcorporalsergeantsergeant-major

27. No non-commissioned officer could in peace-time be promoted to the rank of officer. A private could receive the acting rank (titular Charge) of lance-corporal, and any non-commissioned officer could be similarly promoted to the acting rank next above his own. The acting rank, however, though carrying with it all the other prerogatives of that rank, did not confer the pay and allowances of the higher rank.

28. With the outbreak of war, promotion of non-commissioned officers was considerably accelerated; their promotion for bravery in the field was common.



29. All badges of rank were worn on the collar of the tunic or jacket.

FeldmarschallGold braid in a wave pattern
GeneraloberstThree silver stars set triangularly in a silver laurel wreath on broad gold braid
General, FeldzeugmeisterThree silver stars on broad gold braid
FeldmarschalleutnantTwo silver stars on broad gold braid
GeneralmajorOne silver star on broad gold braid

All the above badges were worn on a red background

OberstThree stars of the opposing colour to the buttons which could be white or yellow, on broad braid of the same colour as the buttons, ie. silver or gold
OberstleutenantTwo stars as described above with braid as described above
MajorOne star as described above with braid as described above

Staff officers wore their badges of rank on a background of the colour of their regimental facings - see Note below.

Hauptmann, RittmeisterThree stars of the same colour as the buttons, ie. white or yellow
OberleutenantTwo stars of the same colour as the buttons
LeutnantOne star of the same colour as the buttons
FähnrichOne silver star on gold braid
KadettA Kadett had no rank but wore the number of white celluloid stars of the rank held on becoming a Kadett, on gold braid; as a sergeant he would wear three such stars - see below
OffizierstellvertreterOne yellow celluloid star on silver braid and a narrow, gold braid line
StabsunteroffizierThree white celluloid stars on a narrow yellow line on gold braid and a narrow, gold braid line
FeldwebelThree white celluloid stars on yellow silk braid
ZugsführerThree white celluloid stars
KorporalTwo white celluloid stars
GefreiterOne white celluloid star

NOTE. Facing colours were based upon nine primary colours broken down into twenty eight shades. At the same time regiments wore either white or yellow metal buttons. Of course in field uniform these were not used and all badges were on the pike-grey of that uniform.


a: Chaplains (Militärgeistliche)


Roman Catholic

Greek Catholic





Apostolischer Feldvikar









 Militärmufti 1 Kl





 Militärmufti 2 Kl

b: Others


Medical Officers (Militärzte)

Judge Advocates (Auditore)

Landsturm Engineers (Landsturm­ingenieure)

Paymasters (Truppen­rechnungs­führer)











Oberstabarzt 1 Kl





Oberstabarzt 2 Kl



















XIAssistenzarzt Landsturm­leutnantingenieurLeutnant­rechnungs-führer

Military Officials

RangKlasseMedical: Veterinary (Militär­tierärztliche-beamte) (1)Medical: Pharmacy (Militär­apothekenbeamte) (see notes 1 & 2)Technical Artillery (Technischebeamte der Artillerie­zeugsanstalten) (3)Registration (Militär-registratur beamte)
VI Militär­oberstabs­apotheker 1 KlArtillerieoberzeugs­verwalter 1 KlMilitär-registratur­direktor
VIIOberstabstierarztMilitär-oberstabs­apotheker 2 KlArtillerieoberzeugs­verwalter 2 Kl.Militär-registratur­unterdirektor



More Military Officials


Intendance (Militärintendantur)

Intendance (Militärintendantur­beamte) (1)Cash (Militärkassen­beamte)Audit & Control (Militärrechnungs­kontrollbeamte) (1)(2)Supply (Militärverpflegs­beamte) (1)
VGeneralintendant Ministerialrat 
VIMilitär-oberintendant 1 Kl.Militär-kassendirektor 1 Kl.Militärober­rechnungsrat 1 Kl.Militärober­verpflege­verwalter 1 Kl
VIIMilitär-oberintendant 2 Kl.Militär-kassendirektor 2 Kl.Militärober­rechnungsrat 2 Kl.Militärober­verpflegs­verwalter 2 Kl
X Militärkassen­offizialMilitärrechnungs­offizialMilitärverpflegs­offizial
XI Militärkassen­akzessistMilitärrechnungs­akzessistMilitärverpflegs­akzessist
XII  Militärrechnungs­praktikant 

Finally, apart from the Military Officials shown in this Annex there were technical officials of the Military Geography Institute, of the Military Technical Committee and of Transport Material Institutes (Trainzeugsanstalten), military superintendents of works (Militärbauwerkführer), military professors (Militärlehrer), fencing masters (Militärfechtmeister), and the higher agriculture and forestry officials.

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Last updated 25 Feb 2002