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Military Records in Upper Hungary (Slovakia)

Military History - Northeast Slovakia | Conscription | Research Notes

 Sample Muster List | Sample "Kmenovy list" | Sample Military Citation | Sample Military Passport

Start Here - Just Updated! April 2011

Carl Kotlarchick has just updated his comprehensive guide to locating military records for the Austro-Hungarian Empire.  Please consult this document first.  

Carl writes: 

I recently became aware of a new website that provides information about WWI soldiers.  The National Library of the Czech Republic has digitized and placed on line, casualty reports from the war.  These reports provide information about a soldiers unit, his birth place and date, type of wound or whether he was killed or captured, and the location.  This is enough information to then locate what his unit was doing during the war.  ... I found so many discrepancies between Steve Blodgett’s published information and the one from Wrede that I finally just put together charts for each region of the empire. 

This is pretty exciting news because as you know, the personnel records for Hungarian soldiers after 1867 have been destroyed.  So, now there is a way to finally obtain information on the service of a WWI soldier.  And since many men were wounded or captured in this war, many people should be able to find their relatives.

 A Guide for Locating Military Records for the various Regions of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, by Carl Kotlarchik

 

While I believe the remainder of this page contains bits and pieces, I'll leave it intact until I have time to update it further.

 

Availability of Military Records of Slovakia Region - Help Wanted

There is simply a dearth of information available regarding the location of military records related to the region which now encompasses Slovakia.  As nations came and went over the twentieth century, records moved (or failed to.)  Lack of interest in such records along with record movement, has led to a general state of confusion regarding the actual location of these records.  The interrelationship of Hungary, Austria and Czechoslovakia has generally tended to confuse the novice researcher.  I've tried to characterize the records as best as possible in the material that follows.  I continue to solicit material (with due credit) from any reader who may be in a position to clarify, correct or contribute.  

 

Update: October, 2009, Mr. John Chmiko has generously contributed the results of his work in this endeavor.  Please read on.

 

Preface

Military records are usually an unimportant resource for genealogical researchers.  They provide little or no relationship information and very little personal information.  However, in the course of learning about the ancestor's past, the inevitable questions about military service arise.

 

For this reason, I have included information regarding the description and availability of such records.  I will leave for others to describe how the military operates (see reference section.)

 

Overview

 

Military records for this region are divided into three major periods

  1. Pre-1867 - Records centrally maintained at the Vienna War Archives Note 9.

  2. 1867 to 1918 - Records maintained by Hungary, held by successor nations (sometimes)

  3. 1918 onward - Records maintained by the states of Czechoslovakia (1st and 2nd Republic) and Slovakia (1st republic.)  Held by the successor nation of Slovakia.

If you have not already done so, you will be well served to understand the history of this region.  A historical map progression will also assist in understand which nation ruled the region over time.

Pre-1867 Military Records

Before the revolutionary events which precipitated the creation of Austria-Hungary Empire, Austrian Monarchy ruled and administered the region of Upper Hungary (Slovakia.)  It is reported that pre-1867 records for conscripts as well as officers remain at the Vienna War Archives.

1867 to 1918 Military Records

After 1867, it appears that Hungary, which now was administratively separate from Austria, began to store military records for its own districts, even though there was one unified Austria-Hungary Army.  These records included the counties of Upper Hungary, which is the present-day territory of Slovakia.

The Treaty of Trianon in 1920 created international recognition of the first republic of Czechoslovakia.  In the treaty, it was specified that all archive records belonging to the new nation of Czechoslovakia be repatriated.  While it appears that census, church and vital records were indeed repatriated, military records were not.  1867-1918 military records appear to have remained in Hungary.  While it is not understood why this occurred, the repatriation actions are consistent with the lack of pre-1867 record repatriation.

Military Records Beyond 1918

1918 marked the end of World War I and the creation of Czechoslovakia.  Military records from 1918 onward were held by the Successor nations of Czechoslovakia first republic (1918-1939), Slovakia first republic (1939-1944), Czechoslovakia second republic (1945-1993) and Slovakia second republic (1993 to present.)  Since the archive system did not substantively change during these periods, these records remained intact and in-place. 

Where to Look

Peter Nagy, based on first-hand investigation reports that records for Individuals who were born before creation of Czechoslovakia but who were recalled to the Czechoslovak army might be found at one, all or none of the source locations below.  We simply don't have enough experience to make generalizations at this point.  We would appreciate hearing from any readers who have used these sources to extract data for conscripts from the Slovakia territory.

BY SOURCE LOCATION:

  • Slovak Historical Military Archives, Trnava
    • Personnel sheets (kmenovy list) of all individuals who served in former Czechoslovak army  (first republic) between W.W.I and W.W.II
    • Personnel files of individuals born after 1911
  • Czech Military Archives, Prague
    • Personnel sheets (kmenovy list) of all individuals who served in former Czechoslovak army (first republic) between W.W.I and W.W.II
    • Personnel files of individuals born before 1911 (including 1911)
    • It appears that Prague has data about individuals who were age 50 or younger circa 1920, which implies that they have data on individuals born 1870-1911 who were later citizens of Czechoslovakia.  It appears that the archives were not properly funded to properly split the records in 1993 when Czechoslovakia was split into the Czech and Slovak Republics.
  • Military Archives, Budapest
    • Communication by post mail, Peter was never charged a fee.
    • Documents found to-date include Personnel Sheets and military decorations for residents of Czechoslovakia, circa 1914.  For the simple cost of a letter, it's probably an avenue worth pursuing.

BY TIME PERIOD:

  • Pre-1867 Military Records - Vienna War Archives - Written requests accepted, fee charged.
  • 1868-1918 Military Records for Slovakia

It appears that most of the records for this period are held by the Hungary Archives, regardless of repatriation requirements.  These records can be obtained by writing to the Hungary Military Archives in Budapest.

The Mormon's Family History Center appears to have collected a small number of these records, somewhat inadvertently.  It appears that while the Mormons were filming records in Hungary during 1962, they happened to film five of the military district muster lists that are in present-day Slovakia.  The FHL catalogers being aware of this, cross-indexed these record groups to both Slovakia and Hungary.  These five districts are all within the former Hungary county of Zemplin.  One explanation offered is that since Zemplin was a "severed" county, which continued to exist within Hungary rather than eliminated, the records slipped out of the bag. 

  • Military Records Beyond 1918/1920

                    See above

Conscription

Conscription requirements varied over time and national need.

In the 1890's:

  • Men entered the army at age 20 and were released at age 23 (5)
  • Subsequent 9 years in reserves

What Army Did They Serve In?

While the dual monarchy allowed independent internal affairs management by Hungary and Austria respectively, external affairs (including the military and diplomacy) presented a unified front.  As such, there was only one Army,, the Austro-Hungary Army.  Having said that, the internal affairs of the Army were handled individually by recruiting districts.  Since A-H was a potpourri of ethnicities, it was common to group like-conscripts together.  That is, conscripts from a specific area who spoke the same or similar language were grouped together.  This made managing them (and giving orders) much easier to do.

The central army of the k u k Austria-Hungary was complimented by an Austrian and a Hungarian 'home defense' or 'national guard' armies for each country. The Austrians had what they called 'Landwher' and Hungarians their 'Honved'. The Honved was limited to service within Hungarian borders unless foreign service was agreed to by the Hungarian parliament. Changes in numbers to be drafted draft or changes in length of service also had to be approved by the Hungarian parliament. (credit to kaima71 at delphiforums). 7/2005

1898 Recruiting District Map

The 1898 Recruiting District map can be found here.  While the site is in German, links to maps and uniforms are self-evident.  As I understand it, military records are organized by regiment.  This map should give you some guidance where to look.  It includes both the Austria empire and Hungary kingdom, as there was one army.

 

Cautionary Advice

Variability of Dates

There are of course, exceptions to the dates shown above, as with all records.  The researcher should not be surprised to find records of several years before or after the cutoffs listed. 

Physical Possession of Records by Archives

Researchers should be cautioned when approaching national archives for information.  A simple question such as, "Does the National Archives of Hungary hold records of the Slovakia regions?" will usually be met with a curt "No,  these records have been transferred to the successor nation."  In fact, the truth is more complex.  We have demonstrated that the Hungary Archives does hold some records from Slovakia.  While peace treaties dictate the transfer of such records, in some cases, especially Slovakia, this did not occur.  There were practical matters, such as severed counties and districts whose registers were not easily divisible, duplicate copies of registers, economic restrictions (lack of funding) to complete transfer and finally, filing errors.

Peter Nagy has demonstrated an elegantly simple method for overcoming this obstacle.  Simply write to the appropriate archive and ask if any records exist for a named individual, birth date and place.  By doing this, you no longer put the Archives into a position of having to recite national policy and you focus them on an individual search.

Type of Records

Varies by regiment and period

Sample Snina Muster Lists

 

  • Kirchenbuch (including death notations if death occurred in-service)
  • Personnel Sheets (Kmenovy List)

Sample "Kmenovy list" (Personnel Sheet)

  • Military Citations

Sample Military Citation Entry

  • Others

Record Organization

Most military records are organized by district (okres) or military unit.

What I've Found at the Family History Library

Military Records found at the Mormon's Family History Library (as of May, 2004)

Muster rolls/lists ( Katonai nyilvántartási jegyzék )from military districts of Hungary now in present-day Slovakia.  Slovak Name, (Magyar Name), date, birth year of conscripted, notes.  Military District, present day name (Magyar) dates of records, birth date range of soldiers.

These are CIVIL muster rolls. They are a register of boys born in a given district with their birthplace and any changes of address they may have had. They are meant to keep track of men eligible for the draft. (Thanks to Karen Hobbs for this clarification)

  1. Snina (Szinna) 1880-1887, births of 1852-1867 – filmed 1962 in Hungary

  2. Sečovce (Gálszécs) 1873-1884, births of 1853-1864.  – filmed 1962 in Hungary

  3. Humenné (Homonna) 1873-1888, births of 1851-1868.  – filmed 1962 in Hungary (sample)

  4. Michalovce (Nagy-Mihály) 1873-1888, births of 1851-1868.  – filmed 1962 in Hungary

  5. Stropkov (Sztropkó) 1873-1888, births of 1851-1867.  – filmed 1962 in Hungary

  6. Vranov (Varannó)  1873-1886, births of 1851-1866.  – filmed 1962 in Hungary

  7. Štúrovo (Párkány) 1873-1894, Births of 1851-1873.   – filmed 1962 in Hungary

 

Copies of these muster rolls are found at the Family History Center, filed under "Slovakia" or "Hungary", under the category of "Slovakia, Snina (okres) - Military records", "Hungary, Zemplén, Szinna (kerület) - Military records" or other variations  with the following headings:

1. Hungary, Zemplén, Szinna (kerület) - Military records"Katonai nyilvántartási jegyzék, 1880-1887", Muster rolls from the Szinna military district of Hungary, now Snina, Czechoslovakia. 1880-1887, births of 1852-1867." film number 629854. 

2. Slovakia, Sečovce (okres) - Military records, Beginning film number 629837

3. Slovakia, Humenné (okres) - Military records Beginning film number 629839

4. Slovakia, Michalovce (okres) - Military records Beginning film number 629842

5. Slovakia, Stropkov (okres) - Military records Beginning film number 629852

6. Slovakia, Vranov (okres) - Military records Beginning film number 629869

7. Hungary, Esztergom, Párkány (kerület) - Military records, Muster rolls from the Párkány military district of Hungary, now Parkan, Czechoslovakia. Births of 1851-1873 Beginning film number 629811

 

Uses old Magyar village names.

As an aside, Muster Rolls for approximately 150 military districts in present-day Hungary are also present at the FHL.  These plus the the 6 in Slovakia provide a total of 128 military districts filmed to-date.

It is expected that other Muster lists will be found at the Hungary State Archives.

Research Results

The following individual graciously provided the results of his research, such that we all may benefit.

John M. Chmiko's research correspondence concerning Military Records in the Archives of Budapest, Bratislava and Prague for Nitra (Slovakia) enlistees Josef and Valintin Csmika, circa 1923

Czech Mililtary Records at the Family History Library

There IS a very good specifically Czech resource which is underutilized - at least until the digitalized register records are available from the Mormon church - in several years time - which would be MILITARY records, 1780 - 1930, which HAVE been microfilmed by the Mormons - the beauty of these is that they are indexed by SURNAME (not regiment), AND are not geographically limited, AND have been microfilmed by the Mormons. They are known as Grundbuchblatter and the INDEXES thereto (197 films for Bohemia - many of which can be ignored due to wrong years and if you concentrate on Prague, perhaps several more due to wrong place), are online at the Mormon FamilySearch site (at that site, go to Family History Library Catalogue, keyword in: Austria - military records - Bohmen (Bohemia), and the 197 film index references will appear). The standardized forms furnish (besides physical description and service record), YEAR of birth, TOWN of birth, occupation, marital status and religion as a minimum, sometimes more (in the German language, of course, until 1918).   Source: Naartjie @ Delphi Forums

Military Archive Addresses

Addresses relevant to Slovakia researchers:

Trnava:   

Vojenský historický archív

Univerzitné nám. 2

917 01 Trnava Slovak Republic

Prague:

Vojenský ústřední archiv Praha

Sokolovská 136

186 00 Praha 8 Czech Republic

Budapest:

Hadtörténelmi Levéltár

1014 Budapest

Kapisztrán tér 2-4 Hungary

Records Bibliography & Resources

1. European Military Records - provided by Poland Border Surnames Genealogical Research Helper.

2. An Introduction to Austrian Military Records, Steven W. Blodgett, FEEFHS

3. Austro-Hungarian Land Forces 1848-1918, Glenn Jewison and Jorg C. Steiner

4. Czech Military Records, Steven Blodgett,  FEEFHS Quarterly (journal), Volume VII, Numbers 1-2, Spring/Summer 1999. p. 38-43.

5. Karen Hobbs - an active, researcher quite knowledgeable regarding Austria military records.  Has published articles for the Czech and Slovak Genealogical Society International (CSAGSI) and the German-Bohemian Heritage Society

6. Fighting Troops of the Austro-Hungarian Army 1868-1914, James Lucas, 1987, Hippocrene Books Inc - Enumeration of recruitment districts

7. The good soldier Švejk and his fortunes in the World War, Hašek, Jaroslav, 1883-1923, published 1973.  Available in public libraries and from used booksellers.

8. AUSTRO-HUNGARIAN-MILITARY Mailing List at Rootsweb - Very knowledgeable participants.

9. Kriegarchiv - Records organized by military unit.  No cross reference or index available.  Available at the Austria War Archive.

10. Austrian Military Regiment Garrisons within Galicia

11. Peter Nagy, Professional Genealogist, Samorin, Slovakia

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Last Update: 27 April 2013                                                    Copyright © 2003-2013, Bill Tarkulich