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Battle of Limanowa

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Battle of Limanowa took place from 1 December to 13 December 1914, between the Austro-Hungarian Army and the Russian Army near the town of Limanowa (40 kilometres (25 mi) south-east of Kraków).

The Austro-Hungarian high command had assumed that the German success would weaken Russian forces in the north and that the Galician front would remain quiet. Both these assumptions were incorrect.

Though the Habsburg 2nd army offensive opened on 16 November and met early success, the Russians proved stronger than expected and their 4th Army yielded little ground. Meanwhile, further south the Russian 2nd Army advanced across the San river and moved into the Tarnów area by 20 November. Further north, the Habsburg 4th Army, supported by the 47th German Reserve Division, moved onto the offensive in the last days of November.

In fierce battles around the towns of Łapanów and Limanowa, the Russian 3rd Army was beaten and forced to retreat east, ending its opportunity to reach Kraków. To avoid being surrounded, the Russian 8th Army also had to retreat, stopping its advance toward the Hungarian plains.

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  • ✪ The Kingdom of Hungary in WW1 I THE GREAT WAR Special
  • ✪ The First Battle of Champagne - Dying In Caucasus Snow I THE GREAT WAR Week 22


The nation that initially declared this war was the Austro-Hungarian Empire, who declared war on Serbia. The rest of the world was soon involved. Today I’m going to look at the Habsburg Empire but mostly just one part of it. Today I’m going to talk about Hungary. I’m Indy Neidell; welcome to a Great War special episode about the Kingdom of Hungary and World War One. Now, in 1867, the Austro-Hungarian Compromise established the dual monarchy of Austria-Hungary. This partially re-established the sovereignty of the Kingdom of Hungary, and Emperor Franz Josef was crowned king of Hungary, which he had not been between 1849 and 1867. Under the compromise, Austria and Hungary had separate parliaments, which met in Vienna and Budapest, but they did have three common ministries, those of foreign affairs, defense, and finance. Franz Josef was the supreme warlord and he also had the right to dissolve the national assembly, to veto any laws passed by the national assembly, and to appoint or dismiss any members of the cabinet council. The nearly 50 years of the compromise before the war were pretty peaceful, and Hungary underwent considerable economic and social development. Also, from 1849, when 200,000 Russian troops had helped the Austrians defeat the Hungarians in the Hungarian revolution and war for independence until December 1914 when the Russians invaded the Uszok Pass, no foreign army invaded Hungarian territory. The only real military action was the occupation of Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1878, and that resulted in fewer than 1,000 dead on the Austro-Hungarian side. Still, in spite of the years of peace there were big problems within the empire. It was incredibly multi-ethnic, and all of those ethnicities were only held together by the sovereign and it was in need of real reform. We’ve mentioned in regular episodes the enormous language difficulties plaguing the armed forces of the empire, 15 different language versions of the national anthem, independence movements among pretty much every ethnic group of the empire, also ethnic groups like Italians or Romanians that wanted to actually belong to another nation. So in spite of the years of peace, it was a mess internally. It also had an emperor who, by 1914, was 84 years old and had been on the throne for 66 years, and who was in many ways a relic of a Europe that no longer existed. Anyhow, back to Hungary, the army, and the outbreak of the war. The land forces of the empire were in three separate armies; the common army - recruited from Austrian and Hungarian parts of the empire, the Austrian Landwehr - from the Germanic provinces, and the Hungarian Honvéd. According to the 1867 agreement, Hungarians were allowed to raise and maintain their own armed forces. In actual practice during the war, all three armies fought side by side, though they had different nomenclature - Imperial and Royal, Kaiserlich und Königlich, Imperial Royal, Kaiserlich Königlich, and Magyar Kiralyi, Royal Hungarian. At mobilization, the Honvéd infantry was made up of 32 regiments, known by their garrison headquarters names. For example there was the Miskolci Royal Hungarian 10th infantry regiment. Croatian troops were part of the Hungarian army, and they served in Croatia, which was subordinate to Hungary in the Empire. Those units took on Croatian names. We’ll talk about them and other troops such as Slovenians, in other special episodes. After the assassination of Franz Ferdinand and during the July crisis, Austro-Hungarian army chief of staff Conrad von Hotzendorf did not experience much resistance to his plans for war with Serbia. Pretty much the lone voice of opposition was Hungarian Prime Minister Istvan Tisza. Already on July 1st, just days after the assassination, he wrote a memorandum to Franz Josef stating that a hasty aggressive move on Serbia would be a fatal error. As Romania was lost to the Triple Alliance of Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy, and as potential ally Bulgaria was weakened by the Second Balkan War, Tisza felt that the time was totally unfavorable for war. Once Germany expressed its support for Franz Josef, and once the cabinet passed a resolution that in the event of a war, Austria-Hungary would not annex Serbian territory, Tisza conceded. And then the war began and Hungarian soldiers were immediately involved. Of course, they were involved in the disastrous invasion attempts of Serbia, which led in just a few months to hundreds of thousands of Austro-Hungarian casualties. However, there was Austro-Hungarian military participation early on over on the Western Front. Yep, 4 Austro-Hungarian heavy artillery batteries were loaned to the Germans for the invasion of Belgium and helped take Liege, Namur, and Antwerp. They were even used during the First Battle of Ypres, but were sent to the Eastern Front to fight Russia in early 1915. In December 1914 came the Battle of Limanowa, which was one of the greatest military victories in Hungarian history. On December 11th, three Hungarian Hussar regiments were given the task of strengthening the Jablonica Hill defenses and relieving their comrades. At 5 AM, the 9th Hussars under Colonel Othmar Muhr dismounted and made for the hill, but it had fallen to the Russians during the night and a vicious melee ensued. The Hussars were cavalry and their equipment wasn’t really suitable for infantry combat, but fighting with whatever they could use, including their bare hands, they gained the upper hand. Colonel Muhr was mortally wounded, but by six AM the Hussars had control of the hill. That was not the end of the fighting. Four Russian regiments tried to re-take the hill a total of 15 times unsuccessfully. The Russian steamroller had been stopped. The Hungarians took casualties of around 12,000, the Russians around 30,000. Hungarian troops were also present at Przemysl fortress during the long months it was under siege by the Russians. In fact, the 20th Szegedi Honvéd Division was down to only 2,662 survivors from 8,500 by the time they surrendered to the Russians. For their service there is a monument at Margit Bridge in Budapest. The greatest number of Hungarian troops took part on the Italian front, and that’s where the greatest number fell. I’ll talk about notable Hungarian service there in regular episodes when we cover major battles there in future, so I won’t do that here. I’ll also talk about the notable success of the 39th Honvéd Division, that used newly developed shock tactics on the Romanian front, but we haven’t gotten to that yet either. Three Austro-Hungarian Divisions and a Hungarian one were also deployed on the Western Front in 1918 to beef up the German defenses here. I’m going to talk briefly about the immediate postwar situation of Hungary. It’s very complicated. In mid October 1918, the Hungarian government, with the Emperor’s consent, terminated the 1867 Compromise. This happened the same day that Tisza was murdered. Many people felt that he had been responsible for the war, which is kind of ironic since he had been the voice of opposition back in July 1914. On October 31st, Count Mihaly Karolyi became the new Hungarian Prime Minister and demanded the immediate cessation of hostilities. The Hungarian Democratic Republic was proclaimed November 16th, with Karolyi as president, universal suffrage, and freedoms of the press and assembly. Things got messy AFTER that. There was the Hungarian-Romanian war for starters, which involved Bolsheviks, Hungarians attacking Czechoslovakia, and Romanian troops marching through Budapest. We’ll cover that in depth when we get there, it’s not possible to do it here. The Treaty of Trianon, which came directly afterward, and which is a very divisive issue even today, was dictated by the Entente in 1920 and Hungary had no choice but to agree. It regulated the independent Hungary. It limited the army to 35,000 soldiers including officers, but most importantly, it took away 67% of Hungarian land, 60% of its population, 89% of the forests, 62% of the railways, and so forth. British Prime Minister Lloyd George had this to say, “What I have said about the Germans is equally true about the Hungarians. There will never be peace in Southeastern Europe if every little state now coming into being is to have a large Hungarian irredenta within its borders. I would therefore take as a guiding principle of the peace that as far as humanly possible the different races should be allocated to their motherlands and that this human criterion should have precedence over consideration of strategy, economics, or communications which can usually be adjusted by other means.” Wise words. I’m going to leave it there, because anything that came beyond that isn’t really this channel’s business. Today was just a brief look at Hungary and Hungarian participation during the war, where hundreds of thousands of Hungarian young men died in the war that Count Istvan Tisza warned against. Thank you Tamás Kloska


Order of battle

Russian forces

Russian Southwestern Front, Commander-in-chief – Nikolai Ivanov

  • 3rd Army. Commander Radko Dimitriev
    • XI. Corps General Vladimir Sacharow (11. 32. Division)
    • IX. Corps General Dmitry Shcherbachev (5., 42. Division)
    • X. Corps General Zerpitzki (9., 31. Division)
    • XXI. Corps General Shkinski (33., 44. Division)
  • 8th Army. Commander Alexei Brusilov
    • VIII. Corps General Dragomirow (14., 15. Division)
    • XXIV. Corps General Zurikow (48., 49. Division)
    • VII. Corps General Eck (13., 34. Division)

Austro-Hungarian Forces

Commander-in-chief – Conrad von Hötzendorf

  • 4th Army. Commander - Archduke Joseph Ferdinand
    • XI. Corps FML Ljubicic (11.,15., 30. Division)
    • XIV. Corps FML. Joseph Roth (3., 8. and 13. Division)
    • German 47. Reserve Division (General Alfred Besser)
    • VI. Corps FML Arz von Straußenburg (39., 45. Division)
    • Cavalry-Corps Herberstein (6., 10., 11. Cavalry-Division)
  • 3rd Army. Commander - General of Infantry Svetozar Boroevic
    • 38. Honved-Division General Sandor Szurmay
    • IX. Corps General Rudolf Kralicek (10., 26. Division)
    • III. Corps General Emil Colerus von Geldern (6., 22., 28. Division)
    • VII. Corps Archduke Joseph of Austria (17., 20. Division)


The Russian threat to Krakow was eliminated and the Russians were pushed back across the Carpathians. The Austrian-Hungary forces claimed the battle as a victory.[1]


  • Buttar, P. (2014). Collision of Empires: The War on the Eastern Front in 1914. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1472813183.


  1. ^ Buttar 2014, pp. 403-404.

Further reading

  • Keegan, John. Der Erste Weltkrieg - Eine europäische Tragödie. – Rowohlt Taschenbuchverlag, Hamburg 2001. – ISBN 3-499-61194-5. (In German)
  • Rauchensteiner, Manfried. Der Tod des Doppeladlers: Österreich-Ungarn und der Erste Weltkrieg. – Graz, Wien, Köln: Styria, 1993. – ISBN 3-222-12116-8. (In German)
  • Roth von Limanowa, Josef. Die Schlacht von Limanowa-Lapanów, Dezember 1914. Innsbruck: Druck und Verlag der Kinderfreund-Anstalt, 1928. OCLC 36543649 (In German)
  • Stone, Norman. The Eastern Front 1914-1917. – Hodder and Stoughton, London 1985. – ISBN 0-340-36035-6.
  • Zenter, Christian. Der Erste Weltkrieg. – Mowegi-Verlag, Rastatt 2000. – ISBN 3-8118-1652-7. (In German)

This page was last edited on 7 March 2019, at 14:59
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