Stjepan Sarkotić


Stjepan Sarkotić

Stefan Freiherr Sarkotić von Lovćen (also "Stefan Sarkotić", "Stjepan Sarkotić", or "Stephan Sarkotić" was born October 4 1858 near Otočac - died October 16, 1939 in Vienna) was a Croatian general in the Austro-Hungarian Army who served as Governor of Bosnia and Herzegovina during World War I.

Stefan Sarkotić was the son of Lieutenant Matija Sarkotić of the Otočac Border Regiment Nr.2. He attended gymnasium in Senj. His first military post was in the 16th Infantry Regiment in Trebinje, Herzegovina. In 1886 he was stationed in Mostar in the 1. Mountain Brigade. By 1889 he was promoted to the rank of captain and assigned to the General Staff Corps in Vienna. He was hereafter assigned to obtainintelligence on foreign nations. To this end he travelled abroad to Serbia, Bulgaria and Macedonia, and learned to speak Russian.

As major he was assigned to the 7th Infantry Division in Osijek. Between 1900 and 1903 he was chief of Staff at the port city of Pula during which time he became colonel.

In 1912 Sarkotić became general of the VI Royal Hungarian Honvéd District, succeeding his countryman Svetozar Boroević in this post. With the start of World War I, Sarkotić was one of the chief commanders of Austrian forces on the Serbian campaign. He handled his duties well despite overall setbacks on the part of the Austrians. In 1914 he was made Knight 2nd Class of the Order of the Iron Crown. He was also soon made the commanding general in Bosnia and Herzegovina, succeeding Oskar Potiorek. As the first Croat governor of Bosnia and Herzegovina he understood the need for reforms in the region by both Austria and Hungary due to what he saw as the danger of a Yugoslav state.

In 1916 Sarkotić launched a campaign into Montenegro from the naval base in Kotor. His troops attacked the Montenegrin forces at Mount Lovćen. Within two days his forces took Lovćen and three days after that the Montenegrin capital, Cetinje, was also under their control. For the success of this operation, Sarkotić was awarded the Order of Leopold First Class with War Decoration and Swords and the Bronze Military Merit Medal with Swords. He was also made a Hungarian baron, accepting the style of "von Lovćen", and was afterwards officially styled "Stefan Baron Sarkotić von Lovćen" at the Austrian court. Although his title of baron was Hungarian, Sarkotić was often referred to as "Freiherr Sarkotić von Lovćen" in German.

In 1917 he was promoted to Generaloberst (Colonel General). He continued at his position in Bosnia and Herzegovina until 1918. With the dissolution of the Dual Monarchy, he retired in December 1918. However, Sarkotić was incarcerated by officials from the newly-proclaimed Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes along with other political opponents of the state. Sarkotić was strongly anti-Serbian and anti-Yugoslav. During his tenure as governor of Bosnia and Herzegovina he suggested the unification of Croatia-Slavonia with Dalmatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. However, Austria-Hungary's political elite never took the threat of a South Slav state very seriously. István Tisza, Prime Minister of Hungary suggested a plebiscite be held, but the actions were too little too late.

After his release he returned to Vienna. Here he was involved with Croatian emigrant and resistant groups. He frequently wrote against the ruling Serb Karađorđević dynasty in the Austrian Reichspost. He also formed and was head of a group known as the Croatian Committee (as opposed to the Yugoslav Committee). Sarkotić's exile from his homeland lasted the rest of his life. He died in Vienna in 1939 and was buried in a vault at the Zentralfriedhof.

External links

* [http://www.austro-hungarian-army.co.uk/biog/sarkotic.htm Stephan Baron Sarkotić von Lovčen]
* [http://www.geocities.com/veldes1/sarkotic.html Stefan Sarkotic von Lovcen]


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