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Military records are often overlooked as a source of genealogical information. In addition to providing a history of your ancestor's military career, these records can sometimes answer basic genealogical questions, such as where and when a person was born.

Most of the Austrian military records are arranged according to regiment. In order to locate our ancestors’ military records, it’s often necessary to know the regiment in which they served. Sometimes the regiment is noted in a church record or census return.

Beginning in 1781, regimental units were assigned specific districts in which they were allowed to recruit. The regimental recruiting assignments changed periodically. If you suspect that your ancestor served in the Austrian military, but you don’t know his regiment, it’s most likely that he would have served in the regiment assigned to recruit in his district at the time he was eligible for recruitment (generally the early 20s). We’ve prepared some tools to help identify which regiments were assigned to recruit in each district at different points in history

The basic service sheets for Bohemian, Moravian, and Silesian soldiers are a significant source for Czech genealogists. Since these records are arranged alphabetically by surname & first name, they can be searched even if you don’t know your ancestor’s regiment.

The Genealogical Society of Utah (GSU) has microfilmed a large number of manuscripts from the War Archive in Vienna. These rolls of microfilm are a good source for Czech military records. Copies of these rolls of microfilm can be borrowed through your nearest Family History Center for a nominal fee.

Up until 1802, service in the Austrian armed forces was a lifetime obligation; once a soldier finished active duty, he could be called back at any time. In times of peace, soldiers were sent home after active duty for long-term furloughs that sometimes lasted several years. 

In 1781, regimental units were assigned specific districts in which they were allowed to recruit. We’ve developed some maps and databases to help identify which regiments were recruiting in each district in various time periods. For conscription purposes, the male population was enumerated. Recruits were mostly peasants, workers, and craftsmen. Officers were recruited from the nobility and the upper classes. Recruits were to be between 168 cm (5’ 6”) and 180 cm (5’ 11”) in height. After conscription, soldiers stayed on indefinite furlough and were dispersed to regiments when needed.

In 1802, lifetime service was replaced by ten years military duty for the infantry; cavalry served twelve years; and artillery for fourteen years. In the infantry, a recruit was supposed to serve one to three years on active duty and the remainder was usually spent at home in reserve. In reality, recruits were often sent home for long-term furlough after only a few weeks of active service. Engineers and the artillery served actively for three years and the cavalry served seven to eight years actively. After completing the active duty phase, soldiers were sent home on reserve and called out annually for training. After the reserve period was over, the person became a veteran.

In 1858 the conscripts in the Common army were to undertake eight years of active service, followed by two years in the reserves. In actual practice, most of the infantrymen went home to permanent furlough after eight weeks of training.

The Austrian monarchy established general liability for service in 1868, the age of recruits was set at 21-23. Active service in the common army was shortened to three years, followed by seven years in the reserves and then two years in the land defense (zeměbrana/K.k. Landwehr). Finally, the person was registered in the home defense (domobrana/K.k. Landsturm) until the age of 42. Conscripts could be taken directly to the Landwehr (land defense), where active service was 1 year (upped to 2 years in 1894), or to the home defense (domobrana/K.k. Landsturm). Recruits were assigned to military units according to contingency needs. Since the conscription contingency in Austrial was lower than the amount of recruits, only about one-third were assigned to the active duty, the remaining two-thirds were located in reserve of their units and undertook only 8 weeks of basic training. Their role was to be further trained and used in case of war to replace the loses in the field.

In independent Czechoslovakia, active service was set at fourteen months in 1920; it was upped to eighteen months in 1924, and, in 1933, increased to two years. After completing the active phase, soldiers were obliged to undertake four trainings in a total time period of fourteen weeks. 

Basic service sheets

Basic service sheets
Category: Military

The Grundbuchblätter Diverse: Böhmen, Mähren, Schlesien are the basic service sheets for Austrian army personnel from Bohemia, Moravia, and Silesia. Data shown includes year of

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Muster rolls

Muster rolls
Category: Military

Roll call (Musterung) was a regular visitation (inspection) of a regiment, during which a muster roll was compiled. The Austrian military began collecting muster rolls in the 16th

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Lists of recruits

Lists of recruits
Category: Military

Conscriptions were performed anually starting in 1781 on a territorial basis until the quota of recruits for the year was reached. Each military unit had its complementary

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Books of reservists

Books of reservists
Category: Military

After the active phase of duty was completed, soldiers went home for civil life and became reservists. Soldiers in reserve had several duties: they had to report any change of residence to

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Military parish registers

Military parish registers
Category: Military

The regiments, garrisons, military hospitals, and other military institutions belonged to proper military parishes, garrison parishes, and the higher military clerical administration

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Casualties of wars

Casualties of wars
Category: Military

There are two sources of records dealing with wartime losses of World War I:

  1. Totenkartei - card index of war deaths.
  2. Verlustlisten  - casualty lists made
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Legionnaire databases

Legionnaire databases
Category: Military

During World War I and World War II, several Czechoslovakian military units were established in exile. In WWI, small volunteer formations were later strengthened by Czech

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Wounded and sick of WWI

Wounded and sick of WWI
Category: Military

In military hospitals, a medical record (Vormerkblatt = Krankenblatt) was created for each patient (soldier or prisoner of war). The records of the field hospitals are of prime importance because

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Decorations of WWI

Decorations of WWI
Category: Military

Military awards and decorations given to Austrian soldiers during WWI were recorded in alphabetical card indexes for 1914-1918, and printed in personnel gazettes for the Common Army, Austrian

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