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Graf Conrad von Hötzendorf

Franz Graf Conrad von Hötzendorf, or Count Franz Conrad von Hötzendorf. (November 11, 1852August 25, 1925) was an Austrian soldier and Chief of the General Staff of the Austro-Hungarian Army at the outbreak of World War I.



Born in Penzing, a suburb of Vienna, Conrad's father was a retired Hussar Oberst, originally from south Moravia. His great grandfather had been raised to the nobility in 1816 adding the surname of his wife from the Palatinate - "von Hötzendorf" as his predicate. His mother was the daughter of the famous Vienna artist Kübler. He became a cadet at a very young age and remained in the armed forces until the end of the First World War. He rose in the ranks quite rapidly.

Conrad married Wilhelmine le Beau in 1886, with whom he had four sons. He would later marry Virginia von Reininghaus in 1915, against the wishes of his children.

In November 1906 Conrad was made chief of staff for the Austro-Hungarian armed forces. He was tireless campaigner for modernization of the armed forces. He was something of a social darwinist, and believed a battle between German and Slavic civilization was inevitable. The power of the Magyar elite within Austria-Hungary troubled him, as he believed it weakened and diluted what he saw as an essentially German empire. He also worried about Italian ambitions in the Balkans. However, his greatest ambition was for a pre-emptive war against Serbia in order to neutralize the threat that he believed they posed, and at the same time change the political balance within Austria-Hungary against the Magyars by incorporating more Slavs. According to Hew Strachan, "Conrad first proposed preventive war against Serbia in 1906, and he did so again in 1908-9, in 1912-13, in October 1913, and May 1914: between 1 January 1913 and 1 January 1914 he proposed a Serbian war twenty-five times."

World War I

Conrad had been one of the main proponents of war with Serbia in response to the assassination of Franz Ferdinand. He did not distinguish himself in his conduct of military operations for Austria-Hungary during the war, often proposing and executing unrealistically grandiose plans, disregarding the realities of terrain and climate. The plans that he drew up frequently under-estimated the power of the enemy. The Serbian army proved far more effective than he had given them credit for, and the Russians mobilized far quicker than planned for. These errors combined with others to lead to the disastrous first year of war that crippled Austro-Hungarian military capabilities. Most of his military victories were possible only in conjunction with German armies, on whom his army became increasingly dependent. In the later years of the war he was obsessed by defeating Italy, and placed a great deal of emphasis on the Italian front.

Conrad von Hötzendorf was dismissed from his post in 1917 by the new emperor, Karl, who favoured a negotiated peace with the entente powers.

In 1918 he was made a Graf, or Count, after previously being a baron.


Template:German title Graf

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