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Oskar Potiorek

general oskar potiorek, oskar potiorek
World War I

  • Battle of Cer
  • Battle of Drina
  • Battle of Kolubara

Oskar Potiorek 20 November 1853 – 17 December 1933 was an officer of the Austro-Hungarian Army, who served as Governor of Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1911 to 1914 He was a passenger in the car carrying Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife Duchess Sophie of Hohenberg when they were assassinated in Sarajevo on 28 June 1914 In the following World War I, Potiorek commanded the Austro-Hungarian forces in the Serbian Campaign of 1914/15


  • 1 Early life
  • 2 Assassination of Archduke Ferdinand
  • 3 After Ferdinand's assassination
  • 4 Death and legacy
  • 5 References
  • 6 Further reading
  • 7 External links

Early lifeedit

Born in Bad Bleiberg, Carinthia the son of a mining official, Potiorek attended the Imperial and Royal military institute of technology and the Kriegsschule academy in Vienna He joined the Austro-Hungarian general staff in 1879, appointed deputy chief by Emperor Franz Joseph in 1902 However, the emperor ignored his ambitions, when in 1906 he filled the post of Chief-of-Staff with Feldmarschall-Leutnant Franz Conrad von Hötzendorf at the behest of heir presumptive and deputy commander-in-chief Archduke Franz Ferdinand Potiorek became Commanding General at Graz, Styria in the rank of a Feldzeugmeister Serving as Inspector General in Sarajevo since 1910, he was appointed Bosnian governor Landeschef the next year, holding both civil and military offices

In 1913 Potiorek had invited Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie to watch his troops on maneuvers scheduled for 26 and 27 June 1914 An attack on the life of former governor Marijan Varešanin in 1910 and several rumours on future assaults leaked by Serbian Prime Minister Nikola Pašić did not keep the archduke from a public appearance in Sarajevo, backed by Potiorek who worried about his own prestige

Assassination of Archduke Ferdinandedit

Main article: Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria

On 28 June the royal couple arrived from Ilidža by train and went to Philipovic army camp where Franz Ferdinand performed a brief review of the troops Potiorek was waiting to take the royal party to the city hall present-day National and University Library of Bosnia and Herzegovina for the official reception Franz Ferdinand, his wife and several officials switched into a six-car motorcade driving down Appel Quay along Miljacka River without further security measures Potiorek was in the second car, a Gräf & Stift open six-seater driven by Leopold Lojka, together with the owner Count Harrach and the royal couple At 10:10, when the vehicles passed the central police station, assassin Nedeljko Čabrinović hurled a hand grenade at the archduke's car Lojka accelerated when he saw the object flying towards the car, the grenade bounced off the coachwork and exploded under the wheel of the next car, wounding the passengers and several spectators

Latin Bridge, Sarajevo

A furious Franz Ferdinand, after attending the official reception at the City Hall, asked about visiting the members of his party that had been wounded by the bomb A member of the archduke's staff, Andreas von Morsey, according to his own accounts suggested this might be dangerous, but Potiorek replied "Do you think Sarajevo is full of assassins I will take responsibility" Nevertheless, the governor decided that the royal car should travel on an alternative route to the Sarajevo hospital However, he forgot to tell the driver about this decision On the way to the hospital, he took a right turn on the Latin Bridge, where one of the conspirators, Gavrilo Princip, was sitting in a corner café at the time The assassin had already abandoned his plans, when he saw the alerted driver began to back up the car right in front of him He stepped forward, drew his gun, and at a distance of about five feet, fired several times into the car Franz Ferdinand was hit in the neck and Sophie in the abdomen Neither Potiorek nor Count Harrach or Lojka were injured1 Princip later claimed that the bullet that killed Sophie was meant for the governor

After Ferdinand's assassinationedit

Following the assassination, Potiorek organized and stimulated Anti-Serb riots in Sarajevo2 Potiorek reestablished an auxiliary militia Schutzkorps to implement the policy of anti-Serb repression3 Schutzkorps, predominantly recruited among Bosniak population, were involved in the persecution of people of Serb ethnicity4 particularly in Serb populated areas of eastern Bosnia5 Around 5,500 citizens of Serb ethnicity in Bosnia and Herzegovina were arrested, between 700 and 2,200 died in prison while 460 were executed67 Around 5,200 Serb families were forcibly expelled from Bosnia and Herzegovina7

Despite his responsibility, Potiorek remained in office When the assassination and the succeeding July Crisis led to the outbreak of World War I, he became the commander of all Austro-Hungarian forces on the Balkans It is speculated that this "survivor's guilt" led Potiorek to take charge of the Austro-Hungarian army and lead the first mission to "punish" Serbia He was reportedly very zealous in his actions multiple times he claimed "I was spared at Sarajevo so that I may die avenging it!", but was apparently an inept commander The small Serbian Army remained undefeated in all major battles and after the textbook military disasters at the Battle of Cer and the Battle of Kolubara with huge numbers of casualties, he was removed from command on 22 December 1914 and replaced by Archduke Eugen of Austria, a choice that reportedly made him suicidal

Death and legacyedit

Potiorek retired to Carinthian Klagenfurt, where he died in 1933 He is buried in the cemetery of the Theresian Military Academy in Wiener Neustadt


  1. ^ When Sarajevo Triggered a War Time 30 January 1984
  2. ^ Novak, Viktor 1971 Istoriski časopis p 481 Retrieved 7 December 2013 Не само да Поћорек није спречио по- громе против Срба после сарајевског атентата већ их је и организовао и под- стицао 
  3. ^ Ivo Banac 1988 The National Question in Yugoslavia: Origins, History, Politics Cornell University Press p 367 ISBN 978-0-8014-9493-2 Retrieved 4 December 2013 Schutzkorps, auxiliary militia raised by the Austro-Hungarians, in the policy of anti-Serb repression 
  4. ^ Tomasevich 2001, p 485 The Bosnian wartime militia Schutzkorps, which became known for its persecution of Serbs, was overwhelmingly Muslim
  5. ^ John R Schindler 2007 Unholy Terror: Bosnia, Al-Qa'ida, and the Rise of Global Jihad Zenith Imprint p 29 ISBN 978-1-61673-964-5 Schutzkorps units were particularly active in Serb areas of eastern Bosnia, 
  6. ^ John R Schindler 2007 Unholy Terror: Bosnia, Al-Qa'ida, and the Rise of Global Jihad Zenith Imprint p 29 ISBN 978-1-61673-964-5 
  7. ^ a b Mitja Velikonja 5 February 2003 Religious Separation and Political Intolerance in Bosnia-Herzegovina Texas A&M University Press p 141 ISBN 978-1-58544-226-3 
Library resources about
Oskar Potiorek Bibliography
  • Ivo, Banac 1984 The National Question in Yugoslavia: Origins, History, Politics Cornell University Press ISBN 0801416752 OCLC 10322678 
  • Schindler, John R 2007 Unholy Terror: Bosnia, Al-Qa'ida, and the Rise of Global Jihad Zenith Press ISBN 9780760330036 OCLC 74941518 
  • Tomasevich, Jozo 2001 War and Revolution in Yugoslavia: 1941 - 1945 Stanford University Press ISBN 978-0-8047-7924-1 Retrieved 4 December 2013 
  • Velikonja, Mitja 2003 Religious Separation and Political Intolerance in Bosnia-Herzegovina Texas A & M University Press ISBN 1585442267 OCLC 50441665 

Further readingedit

  • Schindler, John R 2002 "Disaster on the Drina: The Austro-Hungarian Army in Serbia, 1914" War in History 9 2: 159–195 doi:101191/0968344502wh250oa 
  • Francesco Lamendola, "La Seconda e la Terza Campagna Austro-Serba" September–December 1914 in Italian
  • Jeřábek, Rudolf Potiorek: General im Schatten von Sarajevo Graz: Verlag Styria, 1991 ISBN 3222120676 in German

External linksedit

  • Oskar Potiorek page at Spartacus Educational
Preceded by
Marijan Varešanin
Governor of Bosnia and Herzegovina
May 10, 1911 - December 22, 1914
Succeeded by
Stjepan Sarkotić

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