To the Eastern Front
Slovenian soldiers served in the regiments of the Austro-Hungarian army included in the 3rd Corps, which mostly left for the Eastern Front towards Russia in 1914. In August, the Austro-Hungarian army fought in vast battles in Galicia. Between 18 and 23 August 1914, a large area between the rivers Visla and Dniester, there were severe and bloody fights between Austro-Hungarian and Russian forces. In the battle near Majdan Gologorski, the Austro-Hungarian Army suffered heavy casualties. Slovenian regiments were decimated as well. The Kranjska (Carniola) 17th Infantry Regiment lost half of its men. The clash of outdated strategic concepts of attack with modern weapons as a consequence of industrial developments not only did not realize the expectations but also caused the trenches to become the characteristics of the War and masses of soldiers lost their lives mercilessly.
After the unsuccessful counter-offensives, the 3rd Corps retreated across the river San towards the Carpathians. In October 1914, the Austro-Hungarian Army started with the offensive to rescue the fortress Przemysl on the river San from the Russians who surrounded it. The fortress city with a whole system of fortifications and a large defensive belt was an extremely important defensive point in Galicia, as it defended the crossings over the river San and the railroad from Lvov to Krakow. After initial successes in the Russian counter-offensive, the Austro-Hungarian Army was again forced to retreat to the edges of the Carpathians and Beskids. In severe winter conditions, the War slowly turned into a trench war. In January and February 1915, Austria-Hungary started a big offensive in Galicia with a goal to unblock Przyemisl. The last completely independent military operation in Galicia was not successful and besides many fallen soldiers, a lot of Austro-Hungarian and Slovenian soldiers were captured again. In March 1915, the fortress Przemysl surrendered after a six-month siege. In the battle near Gorlice in the beginning of May, 1915, the 11th German and 4th Austro-Hungarian Armies broke through and forced the Russian army to a massive retreat. Austria-Hungary recaptured Przemysl and Lvov. In July the great Austro-Hungarian-German offensive began, pushing the Russians far to the east, and the battle lines stabilized in October 1915.
The Kingdom of Italy’s attack on Austria-Hungary opened a new front in May 1915. The main part of the 3rd Corps was in August assigned to the 5th Army. Among all regiments from Slovenian enlistmend regions only the 97th Trieste Regiment, except for one battalion, remained on the eastern front because of its Slovenian, Croatian and Italian ethnic structure. Other Slovenian regiments left for the battlefields towards Italy where they joined the infantry and Territorial Army battalions , who were sent to the Isonzo (Soča) front already in the beginning of the hostilities with Italy.
Marko Štepec, M.A., National Museum of Contemporary History