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Austro-Hungarians in Ottoman service : officers of the Macedonian Reformgendarmerie

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Here is an interesting image depicting some Austro-Hungarian Officers serving in "Ottoman Service" (in this case the " " are justified...) with the Macedonian Reformgendarmerie :


It is not my intent to discuss here the events that lead the "Powers" to force upon the Sublime Porte some measures to intervene in the affairs in 1903 - nor the outcome of same.

I will limit my approach of the Mürzsteg reforms to the elements useful in analyzing this interesting photograph.

One of the key points of these was the decision to reform / modernize the Macedonian Gendarmerie - with a view to ensure its impartiality to Macedonians. To gain the trust of the population, each of the powers sent some officers to supervize this.

Austria-Hungary recommended that the head of the Macedonian gendarmerie should be Italian general Di Giorgis, which was eventually accepted by Sublime Porte.

The Powers each sent their officers to a specific sector ("sandjak") :
Austria-Hungary : Uskub
Russia : Salonique
Italy : Monastir (and caza of Castoria)
France : Serres
England : Drama
Germany : only sent one Delegate, employed in the Salonique Gendarmerie School.

The Uniforms :

Although the Tsar had originally requested that the Russian Officers wear Russian uniforms, the officers of the reformed Gendarmerie would eventually wear the Ottoman uniform of the corps, light blue with red facings and black braiding, as seen here.

A note addressed by the Sublime Porte to the Ambassadors of Russia and Austria-Hungary on 17 March 1904 precised :
"(...) With respect to the gendarmerie uniform, the model has already been adopted, in agreement with Degiorgis Pacha. (...)

The contracts signed between the Officers and the Ottoman government specified :
"ART. 5. M..... will wear the special uniform, that will be the one of the whole reformed gendarmerie and will be submitted to the orders of H.I.M. the Sultan, Supreme Commander of the whole Imperial Ottoman Army."

Same contract mentionned in ART.2 that a sum of 1,500 Francs was allocated to each officer "pour frais de premier habillement, equipment, harnachement et achat du cheval".

Uniforms being provided by the officers on this amount, one can imagine that they were privately tailored.
That would explain the differences we can see here : number of rows of braiding vary from 7 to 9, and the shade of the cloth used seem to vary (Januszewsky's, bottom row second from left, being obviously much lighter in shade).

However, one point would raise a specific debate : the headdress.
The official headdress of the gendarmes was to be the Fez.
This headdress however was very much considered "Ottoman/muslim" - and it was reported as being a sign that would generate distrust for the Macedonian population in the context.

Out of this heated debate, the outcome was the following :
- The officers delegated by England and Italy used the fez
- The officers from Austria, Russia and France adopted insted the fur Kalpak, as worn in the Ottoman mounted troops.
Of black fur, its top was of facing colour (red).

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Although this photo has no photographer's backmark, its reverse bears some priceless indications :


The officers :

Oberstleutnant des Generalstabskorps, he was gazetted Adjoint militaire (Militäradjoint) on 12 December 1903.
He would serve from January 1904 to November 1906 - when he was succeeded by Oberst Ludwig Goiginger.
It is interesting to see here that he is wearing his national uniform.

A few of the depicted Officers came with the first contingent sent to Macedonia :

Ferdinand RICHTER
Major in Infanterieregiment Nr.54.
He served in the Gendarmerie from April 1904 to April 1908.
In January 1905, he was serving in the Üsküb School.

Oberleutnant ( Hauptmann) in Infanterieregiment Nr.50.
Served from April 1904 to March 1909
In January 1905, he was serving in Üsküb, "beim Adjoint militaire" - likely Aide-de-Camp to Graf Salis-Seewis.

Oberleutant Karl SCHINDLER, one of the first officers, died from disease in Üsküb on 30 June 1904.
He was replaced, on the same contingent, by :
Oberleutnant in Infanterieregimentes Nr. 52.
He arrived in Üsküb on 23 July 1904.
He served until March 1909.
In January 1905, he was serving in the Üsküb School.

The number of officers was however soon deemed insufficient. Russia and Austria led the way :
A report from Edmond Bapst,Charge d'Affaires a Constantinople to French Foreign Minister Delcasse (dated 18 October 1904) stated :
"The six new officers that the Austro-Hungarian and Russian Governments each decided to send to complement their contingents in their respective sectors of Macedonia are announced as reaching Uskub and Saloniques by the end of the month. (...)"

A report from the French Ambassador Constans to French Foreign Minister Delcasse (dated 12 December 1904) stated :
"(...) Your Excellency (...) knows anyway that six new officers each from Russia and Austria-Hungary arrived respectively in Salonique and Üsküb to take part in the reorganization of the Gengarmerie in Macedonia, mais that the Porte refuses to hire them in Ottoman service et even forbids local authorities to communicate with them, and as a consequence these officers remain on their countries'pay and keep their national uniforms. (...)"

This was however soon resolved, and by a courrier dated 23 December, the Sublime Porte agreed to hire these total new 23 Officers - on the condition that this number would not be increased for any reason.

All six Officers sent in November 1904 are depicted here, wearing the Gendarmerie uniform :

Hauptmann in Infanterieregiment Nr. 93
He served in the Gendarmerie from November 1904 to March 1909.
In January 1905, he was serving in Egri Palanka.

Hauptmann in Infanterieregiment Nr. 59
He served in the Gendarmerie from November 1904 to March 1909.
In January 1905, he was serving in Kocana.

Oberleutnant (Hauptmann) in ungarisch-kroatisch-slavoniches Agramer Landwehrinfanterieregiment Nr.25
He served in the Gendarmerie from November 1904 to March 1909.
In January 1905, he was serving in Kumanovo.

Oberleutnant in Infanterieregiment Nr. 68.

He served in the Gendarmerie from November 1904 to March 1909.

In January 1905, he was serving in Istib.

Oberleutnant in Gendarmeriekorps für Bosnien und Herzegowina.

He served in the Gendarmerie from November 1904 to April 1906.
He was replaced in April 1906 by Hauptmann Franz Fabry.

In January 1905, he was serving in Kratova.

Modestus URBAN

Oberleutnant in bosnisch-herzegowinisches Infanterieregiments Nr.1.

He served in the Gendarmerie from November 1904 to March 1909.
In January 1905, he was serving in Osmanic (and Karova in winter time).

Further to these Austro-Hungarian Officers, we also see here a Norwegian Officer,

A report dated Salonique, 20 July 1904 from M.STEEG, French Consul in Salonique, to French Foreign Minister Delcasse stated :
"(...) after meeting at Salonique, Monastir and Uskub the Belgian and Scandinavian Officers, General Degiorgis was very satisfied with the knowledge they had acquired of the workings of the gendarmerie and of the work thay had accomplished with very limited means. Himli Pacha expressed besides to General Degiorgis the desire that these officers, or at least those who were not charged of inspecting the Police, be employed in reorganizing gendarmerie.
They then decided to post to that effect Swedish
(sic) Lieutenant-Colonel Nandrup in the sandjak of Pristina (...)"

Kaptein Karl-Ingwar NANDRUP then served with the Austrian contingent until May 1906.
He was born in 1864, and an officer since 1885.
Contrarily to most countries, it is to be noted that Scandinavian Officers served within the Turkish troops with two ranks above their national rank -which was feared to be an issue, as other officers "only" served one step above.
He returned to Norway decorated with the 2nd Class of the Order of the Osmanie, Officer of the Austria Franz-Josef Orden, and a gold Liakat medal.

This photograph can safely be deemed to have been taken between th first days of 1905 up to April 1906.



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There remains a small mystery though, as to why Modestus URBAN (here to the right of the photo, on the stairs) is wearing a different uniform from his colleagues ??



Edited by Djedj
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Thank you Jerome,

This is an interesting subject and very nicely explained.

Every day I am learning new information from my fellow member friends here and in other forums.

With your permission I would like to use this info and photo in a Turkish Military History Forum quoting your name of course,

I am sure that they will be interested very much.



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Thank you Jerome,

As soon as I shared this information in our Military History Group;


I received a question from my dear friend Tosun Saral. Now I see that he already has joined the discussion,

he said that he has been working on this subject for quite a time.

Thanks again for this interesting subject.


PS: Here is a photo of Col. Galip Bey Commander of Gendarmerie Units of Ottoman Empire in 1909 whom he mentioned in his thread.

Edited by demir
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Dear Demir and Tosun Saral,

Many thanks for the photo - most interesting, and a striking likeness indeed !

..But there are photos of Karl-Ingvar Nandrup online, and the comparison makes me think it's him indeed ?


More photos of him here (incl. one in Gendarmerie uniform - with epaulettes !) :


Dear Ulsterman,

The mission ended in 1909 if I'm not mistaken.

I don't think it was labelled a success, from the "Powers" point of view.

Plenty of stuff online if you google "Macedonia + gendarmerie + 1903" for instance

Gustav von Hubka published a book in 1910, "Die österreichisch-ungarische Offiziersmission in Makedonien, 1903-1909"

A bio of Salis-Seewis on "the" Austro-Hungarian reference website here :

Dear Markgraf,

Superb dolman, thanks for the pic - quite interesting that the braids seem to be of yet another model - and that this was made by a Viennese tailor.

It is always most interesting to see how "light blue" cloth compares to period photographs.

Meilleures salutations,


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We have an objection in our Military History also about the identity. But seeing your photos one can see the resemblance better.

I will post your photos also and see what the outcome is. But I think you are right about the identity.

Lets see what Tosun thinks.



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Most interesting photo again Markgraf !

Here are the other pics I have of Gendarmerie Officers (had these ones for a couple years, and I wondered what the uniform could be for quite some time !) :

This one I think Milosch KAPETANOVITS :


This one maybe Emil TURIC :


This one likely Marian ZACCARIA v. LECH :


Kapetanovits seem to have his Austro-Hungarian sword.

Interesting that Zaccaria wears boots.

Kalpaks have different heights.

The medals here are Austrian.

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Djedj: Yes, Kapetanovits have an 1861 M infantry officer's saber.

I think all of these dolmans made by various Austro-Hungarian tailors and they had not exact pattern of Turkish uniforms.

Note: Zsivkovics's Turkish epaulettes also are in the Hungarian Military Museum. Those are made in England.

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