1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/Conrad von Hötzendorf, Count

1922 Encyclopædia Britannica
Conrad von Hötzendorf, Count

CONRAD VON HÖTZENDORF, Count (1852-), Austrian field-marshal, was born at Vienna, and after graduating at the military academy of Wiener Neustadt entered the army as lieutenant in a Jäger regiment. He was appointed to the general staff, and distinguished himself during the fighting in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1878 and 1881. He continued to be employed mainly on the general staff, especially as lecturer on tactics in the Kriegsschule (the highest military academy), and he gained the reputation of an authoritative writer on military subjects. Among the many people in whom he inspired confidence was the heir to the throne, the Archduke Francis Ferdinand, by whose influence he was appointed in 1906 to succeed Count Beck as chief of the general staff. He displayed extraordinary activity, concerning himself not only with the work of his own office, but with matters of internal, and still more of foreign, policy. This brought him into increasingly sharp disaccord with the Foreign Minister, Count Aehrenthal. Conrad was filled more particularly with the deepest distrust of Italy, and, convinced as he was that it would be impossible to avoid a struggle for the very existence of the Habsburg Monarchy, he wished to precipitate this struggle while the chances were not unfavourable. The latent opposition between the two men led to Conrad's temporary retirement in 1911. At the end of 1912 he was recalled to his post and in 1914 agreed to the military measures against Serbia which led to the World War. For more than two years of the war he was the real leader of the Austro-Hungarian armies. Though he was not always successful in the unequal struggle, the essential credit of the great success at Gorlice (1915) must be ascribed to him. To him also are due a series of successful operations, although a decisive victory was denied him. In 1917 he assumed the command of the forces operating in Tirol, and took part in every engagement until the battle of the Piave in the summer of 1918. After this he retired from active service, was raised to the rank of count, created a field-marshal, decorated with numerous orders, and appointed commander of the Imperial Guard. Conrad was one of the most predominant personalities of the fallen monarchy, whose fate he was unable to avert. In his active military operations his most distinguished colleague was Gen. Metzger (b. 1870), who, after Conrad's retirement, took over a high command, distinguishing himself on the Italian front and finally in France in cooperation with the German armies. (A.—K.)