How many non-German (Austrian) officers were in Habsburg (Imperial Austrian/Austro-Hungarian) armies and how hard would be for example to Croat, Czech, Pole etc… to advance and acquire high rank?

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All the best Habsburg generals were “foreigners”, Prince Eugene of Savoy, Radetzky, Tilly, Montecuccoli, Spinola, von Wallenstein… Thing with Habsburg monarchy through centuries that they formed very loyal multi-national officer corps that was loyal directly to the dynasty and the Emperor, not the state, something that for example Yugoslavia never managed to do. As soon war started in Yugoslavia Croatian, Slovene, Bosnian high ranking generals immediately deserted and choose to fight for their own countries, but high ranking Austrian generals of non-German descent remained fiercely loyal to the crown all the way until bitter end. Above mentioned Boroevic was one of the last loyal Habsburg generals and at the end of war when empire started collapsing and everyone started to abandon sinking ship, even Austria itself proclaiming republic, Boroevic sent letter to Emperor Karl offering him to move to Vienna with last his loyal troops and to crush republic and keep monarchy in power, he was refused.


It was possible, yes, me being from Croatia and interested about history i know about several Croatian/Yugoslav officers. For example when Austro-Hungarian army invaded Bosnia 1878 commander of occupation army was Croatian general Filipovic, there were several military governors during ww1 of occupied lands that were Croats, Last commander of Austro-Hungarian navy was Admiral Maximilian Njegovan, Croat. Commander of Austro-Hungarian airforce in ww1 was General Milan Uzelac, a Serb. General Cvjetanin, adjutant of Emperor Franz Josef I, a Serb. As you already said, Field Marshal Boroevic, commander of Italian front, from Croatia. I believe commander of main naval base in Pola (Pula) was Pole. Just several examples i know.


It’s important to remember that Austria-Hungary was not a nationality based country. On paper a persons ethnicity was irrevelant, but obviously degree of favoritism and discrimination existed.


As long as you were loyal and spoke the necessary language (either German or Hungarian) fluently enough, you would stand a good chance of getting promoted according to your talent and experience. Noble vs. non-noble descent was probably more important than your ethnicity, at least in the earlier centuries (not so much in WWI). The Habsburg empire was so diverse that it could not possibly work as a German nationalist structure. After 1914, the wartime closeness with imperial Germany was very detrimental to the willingness of other, smaller constituent nationalities to support continuous existence of the empire.


On the Austrian half of the military, you could definitely become an officer. I don’t know how difficult it would be, but the k.u.k. Armee encouraged diverse ethnicities in their high command to communicate with the troops. But the Hungarian side, the Honvéd, used all state organs as tools for Magyarization, including the army. Hungarian was the all-purpose language in the army, so I would imagine if someone form a minority background wanted to become an officer, he would have a much better chance on the Austrian side.