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Stjepan Sarkotić
9th Governor of Bosnia and Herzegovina

In office
22 December 1914 – 3 November 1918
Appointed by Franz Joseph I of Austria
Preceded by Oskar Potiorek
Succeeded by Office abolished
(Atanasije Šola as President of the People's Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Personal details
Born (1858-10-04)4 October 1858
Sinac, Otočac, Austrian Empire
Died 16 October 1939(1939-10-16) (aged 81)
Vienna, Nazi Germany
Resting place Zentralfriedhof, Simmering, Vienna, Austria
Nationality Croat
Alma mater Theresian Military Academy
Profession Soldier
Committees Croatian Committee
Military service
Allegiance  Austria-Hungary
Service/branch Austro-Hungarian Army
Years of service 1884-1918
Rank Lieutenant Colonel General
Unit Königgrätz Regiment
16th Infantry Regiment
1st Mountain Brigade
Intelligence Department of General Staff
Commands 7th Infantry Division
XII Corps
5th Infantry Brigade
88th Land Rifle Regiment
44th Home Guard Infantry Division
VI. Royal Military District
42nd Home Guard Infantry Division
Battles/wars World War I
Awards Order of the Iron Crown
Order of Leopold

Stjepan Freiherr Sarkotić von Lovćen (also Stefan Sarkotić, Stjepan Sarkotić, or Stephan Sarkotić) (4 October 1858 - 16 October 1939) was an Austro-Hungarian Army general of Croatian ethnicity who served as Governor of Bosnia and Herzegovina during World War I.

Early life and education

Stjepan Sarkotić was born in Sinac near Otočac on 4 October 1858 as one of four siblings. His father was Lieutenant Matija Sarkotić of the Otočac Border Regiment Nr.2. After he attended gymnasium in Senj, he entered in Military School in Sankt Pölten, and later he attended Theresian Military Academy in Wiener Neustadt.

Military career

In 1884 he got his first military post in the Königgrätz Regiment, and later he was transferred to 16th Infantry Regiment in Trebinje, Herzegovina. In 1886 he was stationed in Mostar in the 1. Mountain Brigade. Until 1887 he was involved in military actions that occurred in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Krivošije in Montenegro. By 1889 he was promoted to the rank of captain and assigned to the General Staff Corps in Vienna. He was hereafter assigned to obtain intelligence on foreign nations. To this end he travelled abroad to Serbia, Bulgaria and Macedonia, Russian city Kazan, where he learned to speak Russian. After his return, he worked in Intelligence Service of General Staff, and after that he worked with troops in the field.

Soon as he became major, he was assigned to be commander of Staff of the 7th Infantry Division in Osijek, where he remained for 4 years. After that, he was assigned to Regiment in Prague as lieutenant colonel. Between 1900 and 1903 he was chief of Staff at the port city of Pula during which time he became colonel in 1901. After his service in Pula, he was assigned to be commander of the Staff of XII Corps in Nagyszeben in Hungary. In 1907 he became commander of the 5th Infantry Brigade in Linz, and in the same year he was promoted to major general. In 1908 he became commander of the 88th Lands Rifle Regiment, and in 1910 he was assigned to be a commander of 44th Home Guard Division. On 2 November 1911 he was promoted to feldmarschalleutnant.

On 10 April 1912 Sarkotić became general of the VI Royal Hungarian Honvéd District, succeeding his countryman Svetozar Boroević in this post. Sarkotić was also commander of the Home Guard of the Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia with headquarters in Zagreb.

Governor of Bosnia and Herzegovina

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) which he led until January 1929, when Ante Pavelić replaced him. 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

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