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Hermann Kövess von Kövessháza

Hermann Freiherr Kövess von Kövessháza Hungarian: kövessházi báró Kövess Hermann; 30 March 18541 – 22 September 19241 was the final, and completely ceremonial, Commander-in-Chief of the Austro-Hungarian Army He served as a generally competent and unremarkable2 commander in the Austro-Hungarian Army and was close to retirement in 1914 when the First World War broke out and he was given a command post


  • 1 Personal life
  • 2 Military career
    • 21 World War I
  • 3 Awards
  • 4 References

Personal lifeedit

Kövess' father was a senior military officer living in Temesvár, Austrian Empire now Timișoara, Romania His mother's family belonged to the small German-speaking Transylvanian Saxon minority known as the Siebenbürger-Sachsen He married the Baroness Eugenie Hye von Glunek in 1892 and they had 3 sons; Adalbert, who was killed in action in 1914 and Géza and Jenő who served as artillery officers

Military careeredit

He enrolled into a cadet institute at Hainburg in 1865, and, after spending some time there and at the academy in Znaim, he moved to a military academy in Vienna He passed the courses at the academy with fair success and received an accelerated promotion to captain

He led his first military expedition in 1882 on a mission to suppress a mutiny in Dalmatia and was commended by the Emperor Francis Joseph I of Austria with a Merit Medal and also received a Knights Cross of the Order of the Italian Crown that same year After the campaign he failed his next examination and was transferred into the infantry His good performance during his service with the infantry provided him with quick promotions to major in 1890 and then to lieutenant colonel in 1894 and soon after to colonel

He had become one of the youngest colonels in the Austro-Hungarian Army and one of the most powerful Protestants serving in a generally Roman Catholic officer corps His Protestantism caused a scandal when he was involved in an event where 400 Roman Catholics converted to Protestantism after a dispute The scandal was generally ignored by the military, but condemned by the Catholic Church The condemnation led him to believe he would be prematurely retired; however, this turned out to be false due to the onset of World War I

World War Iedit

Hermann Kövess von Kövessháza, 1915

At the beginning of World War I, Kövess commanded the XII Transylvania Corps, and fought in the tenacious defense against the superior Russian forces in east and central Galicia, and later in Russian Poland During the spring offensive of 1915, he captured by storm the fortress of Ivangorod In the autumn, under the command of August von Mackensen, he led the III Army during the Serbian Campaign, with which he captured Belgrade and penetrated deep into Serbia In January 1916, in independent command, he overthrew Montenegro in the Montenegrin Campaign, and also occupied Albania

In the early summer of 1916, Kövess' army cooperated in the operation against Arsiero-Asiago But after the breakthrough of Aleksei Brusilov, he was transported in all haste to the Galician theatre of war Kövess soon after took over the command of the VII Army, and defended the ridges of the Wooded Carpathians against Russian attack

In the summer of 1917, Kövess sallied from the mountains with his troops, made himself master of Czernowitz and Radautz, and drove the Russians almost entirely from the Bukovina From the middle of January to the beginning of April 1918, he commanded the army front consisting of the I and VII Armies, extending from the Dniester to the south-eastern corner of Transylvania

Entrusted after the withdrawal of Bulgaria with the thankless task of the command of the troops in the Balkans, Kövess could do nothing more than arrange for the evacuation of the occupied territories according to plan, and for the defence of the Danube-Sava line When Emperor Charles laid down the supreme command, he nominated Kövess as his successor But the dispersal of the forces closed Kövess's military career

Kövess was one of the most popular army leaders of the old monarchy After his downfall, he lived in retirement, cultivating his historical and artistic tastes3


  • Order of the Cross of Takovo 2nd class, 1900


  1. ^ a b Kövess
  2. ^ First World Warcom - Who's Who - Hermann Kovess von Kovesshaza
  3. ^  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed 1922 "Kövess, Hermann, Freiherr von Kövesshaza" Encyclopædia Britannica 12th ed London & New York 

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