Who's Who - Moritz von Auffenberg-Komarow

Moritz von Auffenberg-Komarow Moritz von Auffenberg-Komarow (1852-1928) served in command of the Austrian Fourth Army in Galicia at the start of the World War One before his dismissal amid perceived failure in 1915.

Auffenberg had served as Austria-Hungary's Minister of War from 1911-12, during which period he had (somewhat vainly) attempted to modernise the army: in the event his tenure of office was too brief to permit him to do much beyond embark upon his task, although he nevertheless succeeded in gaining numerous enemies (notably in Hungary).

He had however succeeded in securing a wider budget for the army, and had consequently increased its size, both important considerations when war broke out in late July 1914.

War brought Auffenberg command of the Austrian Fourth Army and an advance into Galicia in August 1914, where he succeeded in capturing Komarow and came close to outflanking his opposition Russian Fifth Army until the Austro-Hungarian Chief of Staff Conrad von Hotzendorf instructed Auffenberg to turn south and hurry to the aid of the Austrian Third Army.

In acting upon Conrad's orders (however reluctantly), a gap was created between the First and Fourth Armies that was promptly exploited by the Russian Fifth Army.  Auffenberg was fortunate to avoid complete encirclement at Rava Ruska in early September 1914, although escape was only achieved through a lengthy and ultimately deeply humiliating retreat to the Carpathians at great loss to both men and equipment.

The consequences were perhaps predictable.  The initial operation to aid the Austrian Third Army was Conrad's idea, which directly led to the Russian advance.  Nevertheless Conrad succeeded in shifting blame for the calamity to the commander of Fourth Army - Auffenberg - who was relieved of his post and never held further command.

He died in 1928.

A 'corkscrew' was a metal post for supporting a wire entanglement, with a twisted base enabling it to be screwed into the ground, removing the need for a hammer, the use of which could attract enemy fire.

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