War painter – Kriegsmaler

During the first worldwar the Austro-Hungarian empire used artists to make professional paintings of the war. These painters did not become part of the army but were paid by it for their services, they were called war painters or in German Kriegsmaler. Sometimes they were attached to a specific unit or a theatre of war.

In an album from my collection there are is a picture of a Kriegsmaler at work and also two pictures of the results of his work. Such pictures are hard to find.

For a portrait of an officer (in my collection) made by a Kriegsmaler go to this earlier blog.

Namecard of Arthur Giesl Freiherr von Gieslingen

Sometimes as a collector you find unexpected treasures. Years ago I bought some paperwork with which came a group of namecards from the Pehm family. Going through the cards one stuck out:

Feldmarschallleutnant Arthur Freiherr Giesl v. Gieslingen

Based on the rank the card dates between November 1907 and Oktober 1912. He used this card as a quick thank you note/letter to a Pehm, referring to him and other students he comes across in the field and that are doing well. He was the commander of the Theresian Officers Academy between 1905 and 1910 so this must refer to his activities there where this Pehm (and a Krainz he mentions) were his students.

In the collection there are two Pehms with officers ranks so I am not sure which one is adressed here?

Mayerling and Redl

Von Gieslingen had a long career but two incidents are notable. He was attached to Crownprince Rudolph at the moment he commited suicide in the Mayerling hunting lodge. The whole affair was handled by Von Gieslingen.

His impact in the Redl affair could be even greater. He brought Redl as a young Russian speaking officer into the Evidenz bureau (Military Intelligence) of which Von Gieslingen was the commander at that moment. Later he made him his Chief of Staff of the 8th Corps in Prague. Redl as spy for the Russians probably gave all detailed plans for war to the Russians. The poor handling of the Redl case might even have been a main reason for the extremely poor performance of the AH army in the first war year. The plans most likely fell in the hands of the Russians but were not altered as Von Gieslingen claimed they had not been compromized. His own releive of command in 1914 due to poor performance might have been a result of this too.

A great short bio about Von Gieslingen can be found here:


KuK Machinegun Detachments in the Austro-Hungarian Army

Although Machine Guns were not new in the beginning of WW1 they were still quite rare in the Austro-Hungarian army with only 2.700 pieces in the entire army.

During the war the importance of the machinegun became clear and many new machineguns were produced and deliverd to the infantry but also to cavalry units (that often became dismounted) during the war and of course the mountain troops. By the end of the war more than 40.500 machineguns would be in use!

Machine gun units could be recognized by the specific collar badge as can be seen above (not my collection) and sometimes also by the clothing in the case of cavalry units as can be seen in the photo’s furher below.

The back from the postcard above, also part of Honvéd Huszar unit!

Cavalry: KuK Dragoons and Honved Hussars

The cavalry units that became dismounted during the war and most often acted as regular infantry. They also had machinegun detachments in their regiments. The collar badge was the same as can be seen with the Huszar in the photo above. But the clothing could be different, specifically the jackets had some different versions.

Honved Cavalry Machinegun detachments Field Grey Fur Jacket (lower photo from the book The Emperor’s Coat).

Dragoon officer of a Machinegun detachment with the regular Dragoon’s fur coat with white lambskin and not the black version. See pictures below from The Emperor’s coat again.

Cavalry Machine Gun unit with a nice variation of all of the coats shown and discussed above! Both the Honvéd and the regular KuK cavalry versions

KUK IR 48 – Machinegun Instruction detachment

And as last picture from my collection the Belobende Anerkennung (Bronze Signum Laudis medal equivalent) or honorable acknowledgment for the Commander of a Machinegun Instruction unit of KuK Infantry Regiment 48, received when he left this command.

Sources: The Emperor’s Coat by Dr. Ortner

All period pictures and the paperwork are part of my collection

Officers of Marchbatallion XXVI, BH2 – Bosnian Herzegovian Infantry Regiment 2 – Italian Front

These are pictures of an officer from Trautenau who volunteered (1 year volunteer) and became an officer in BH2 together with several of his friends or familiy members. The earlier pictures in this blog came from the same album!

Photo while still as an aspiring officer (so NCO in rank, training as an officer) in 1916
Sitting in the middle
Back row, second from left, now as a decorated officer (in training)
On the right side
And as a decorated officer in 1918