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Gustav von Myrdacz
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Born (1874-07-12)July 12, 1874
Died July 11, 1945(1945-07-11) (aged 70)
Place of birth Vienna, Austro-Hungarian Empire
Place of death Tirana, Albania
Allegiance Austria-Hungary Austro-Hungarian Empire
Flag variation of the Albanian Royal Army.svg Albanian Kingdom
Rank Division General
Battles/wars World War I
World War II
Spouse(s) Ida (Née Heller-Fiedler)

Gustav von Myrdacz (born 12 July 1874 in Vienna; died 11 July 1945 in Tirana) was an Austrian noble who was instrumental in organising the Royal Albanian Army from the early 1920s to 1945. He was referred in Albania as Gustav Mirdashi.[1]

Life[]

Gustav von Myrdacz was born in Vienna on 11 July 1874 to a German-speaking Roman Catholic Silesian noble family. His father, Paul von Myrdacz (4 May 1847 - 7 July 1930), was born in Konská (Třinec) and pursued a career as a military doctor in the Austria-Hungary army. Little is known of his mother Emma Zettl. As such Dr Paul von Myrdacz had been involved in the occupation of Bosnia in 1878 and spent some time there in the 1880s. Gustav von Myrdacz grew up in the multi-lingual, multi-cultural environment of the late Hapsburg empire and trained to become a military engineer. He attended high school in Vienna and the Theresian Military Academy (Theresianischen Militärakademie) in Wiener Neustadt and in 1897 was posted to the Hapsburg Austrian Military Police Battalion Number 32 in Galicia. Over 1901-03 he attended the military school of the General Staff College (Kriegsschule der Generalstabsakademie) and served in various infantry brigades as a staff officer after 1904. From 1909 he was a tactical instructor at the technical military academy (Technischen Militärakademie ) in Mödling.

World War I[]

When World War I began in 1914 von Myrdacz served as an officer in Sarajevo. In December 1915 he was attached to the General Division of the XIX. Corps under General Ignaz Trollmann. Here he helped Austria conquer and occupy Serbia and enter northern Albania to engage Italian soldiers. From 1 May 1917 Gustav von Myrdacz commanded the border guard battalion IV (Grenzjägerbataillon IV), before becoming the chief of staff to the 14th Infantry Division assigned to the Italian front. Here he participated in the Battles of the Isonzo. In 1918, partly because of his involvement in the occupation of Albania, Gustav von Myrdacz was introduced to a young honorary Colonel named Ahmed Zog in Vienna.[2]

On 5 January 1918 Gustav von Myrdacz was appointed Colonel in the General Staff Corps (Oberst im Generalstabskorps). From 16 July 1918 he commanded the last offensive of Austria-Hungary in Venetia when he led Infantry Regiment No. 117 on the Tonale Pass in Tyrol. A day after the armistice he was captured and became a prisoner of war in Italy. He was discharged after one year. Returning to republican Austria Gustav von Myrdacz was appointed commander at the State Office of Styria. He was then posted to Graz (where his father had retired) to become Stellvertretender Stadtkommandant (Deputy Militia Commandant).

Albania[]

In 1920 Gustav von Myrdacz retired from service in Austria at the rank of Brigadier-General and joined the newly formed Albanian army at the invitation of Ahmed Zog. Three years later he accepted a commission to become Chief of Staff. He joined a group of foreign nationals advising the Albanian government under Ahmed Zog including Leon Ghilardi from Dalmatia, and Lieutenant-Colonel Walter Francis Stirling and Major-General Sir Jocelyn Percy from Britain. Most of his duties, beyond training officers and small military formations in basic manoeuvres, involved building "military" roads. "He was a quiet bespectacled man, who resembled more an academic than a soldier. From the first, he recommended that Albania needed only a very small standing army…..As his savings would not go far in Austria, he stayed on the [Albanian] army payroll, while devoting much of his time to music and gardening."[3]

In 1928 the new Fascist regime in Italy tried to increase influence and power within Albania, and General Alberto Pariani was sent as a military "advisor". The Albanian Prime Minister Ahmed Zog sidestepped the Italian Military Mission and appointed himself as Chief of General Staff. (The following year he made himself King of Albania). Colonel Gustav von Myrdacz was immediately entrusted with the same post in the "new" Royal Albanian Army. It suited Zog and the Albanians to have their army trained by a man who had fought against the Italians.

As for von Myrdacz : "The efforts of General Pariani to convert the Albanian army into a modern fighting force evoked his wry amusement."[4]

When Fascist Italy invaded Albania in April 1939, King Zog fled but many of von Myrdacz's officers and trained soldiers fought back.

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When the Royal Albanian Army was dissolved Gustav von Myrdacz lost his job but chose to stay on in Tirana with his wife Ida (Née Heller-Fiedler).

"Chief among his problems was an acerbic wife, unhappy at the prospect of living out her days in Tirana."[5]

After the occupation of Italy by Nazi Germany in September 1943 German troops crossed into Albania and Gustav von Myrdacz was partially employed by the new regime to restore law and order. Officially the German regime employed him "as liaison officer between the Albanian army and the Twenty-first Army Corps".[6]

He was also involved in recruiting some men and officers for the 21st Waffen Mountain Division of the SS Skanderbeg (1st Albanian) in 1944 but his exact role remains nebulous. Abaz Kupi knew him and hoped to obtain ammunition to fight the partisans.

Murder[]

In September 1944 SS Standartenführer Josef Fitzthum (a fellow Austrian) directly appointed a three man "control committee" for Tirana including two obscure Albanians and General Gustav von Myrdacz. The following month the German evacuated Tirana. It is believed the Communist partisans of Enver Hoxha captured him and executed the elderly General in 1945, probably in January.[7]

Decorations[]

  • Austrian orders
  • Turkish war decoration
  • Grand Cordon of Skanderbeg Order (Order of Skanderbeg)

References[]

  1. Aliko, Tomor (2007). "GENOCIDE ON THE INTELLECTUAL ELITE OF THE ALBANIAN NATION UNDER THE COMMUNIST TERROR". Tirana: Shtypshkronja "MALUKA". p. 181. http://www.arct.org/pdf/genocidi-181-210.pdf. Retrieved 2013-12-27. 
  2. Jason Tomes King Zog of Albania; Europe's Self-Made Muslim Monarch (2003) .
  3. Jason Tomes King Zog of Albania; Europe's Self-Made Muslim Monarch (2003) page.128.
  4. Jason Tomes King Zog of Albania; Europe's Self-Made Muslim Monarch (2003), page.128.
  5. Jason Tomes King Zog of Albania; Europe's Self-Made Muslim Monarch (2003), page. 128.
  6. Bernd Jürgen Fischer: Albania at War, 1939-1945. Purdue University Press, West Lafayette 1999, page.216.
  7. Bernd Jürgen Fischer: Albania at War, 1939-1945. Purdue University Press, West Lafayette 1999, page.234.

Literature[]

  • Bernd Jürgen Fischer: Albania at War, 1939-1945. Purdue University Press, West Lafayette 1999, ISBN 1-55753-141-2.
  • Jason Tomes King Zog of Albania; Europe's Self-Made Muslim Monarch (2003) ISBN 0-7509-3077-2
  • Anton Wagner, Der Erste Weltering (Herold Verlag, 1993), ISBN 3-901183-04-3
  • H. Schwanke, Zur Gesch. d. österr.-ungar. Militärverw. in Albanien 1916–18 (Vienna, 1982)
  • Janusz Piekalkiewicz, Krieg auf d. Balkan 1940-45 (Munich: Sudwest Verlag, 1984),
  • Nikolaus von Preradovich, Österreichs höhere SS-Fuehrer (1987)
  • M. Schmidt-Neke, Albanien, Geschichtl. Grundlagen, in: Südosteuropa-Hdb. VII, 1993, page .26-56.

External links[]

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