Kriegsarchiv – Information in brief

With its approximately 180,000 boxes of files and 60,000 account books on about 50 kilometres of shelves, the Vienna Kriegsarchiv can lay claim to being by far the most important military archive in Central Europe. Its map collection of more than 600,000 items is the largest in Austria. This is complemented by a collection of around 400,000 photographs and other kinds of images.

The former library of the Kriegsarchiv represents one of the most extensive collections of earlier specialized literature on military history. The War Archives Department of the Austrian State Archives emerged from two institutions: the "Hofkriegskanzleiarchiv" (founded in 1711) and the "Kriegsarchiv" founded in 1801 by Archduke Karl as a research institution of the army.

The holdings of the Kriegsarchiv can be roughly divided into five major thematic groups:

1. Personnel records relating to officers, non-commissioned officers, enlisted men, and officials of the armed forces from about 1740 to 1918; files pertaining to military decorations (1789 to 1958), including the archives of the Military Maria Theresia Order.

2. Feldakten, i.e. files containing materials on military operations of the imperial/Imperial and Royal field armies from the 16th century to 1882 (old field files and army files) as well as on operations during World War I between 1914 and 1918 (High Command of the Army, new field files).

3. Allerhöchster Oberbefehl, Zentral-, Mittel- und Territorialbehörden (supreme command, central, interim and territorial authorities). This group of holdings brings together the records of institutions around the Emperor (especially the military chancellery, the Adjutant General's office and the general staff), the central military services (Hofkriegsrat 1557 to 1848, Ministry of War 1848 to 1918, Ministry of Defence 1868 to 1918) and a number of other authorities, institutions and territorial commands such as the Office for Invalids, the Apostolic Military Vicariat, the supreme engineering and artillery authorities, the institutions of military education and training, the homes for military invalids as well as of individual general and military commands in the lands.

4. Navy and air force (19th and 20th centuries)

5. Collections, in particular the collection of maps and plans, the picture collection, the collection of manuscripts and very significant legacies of military writings. The Kriegsarchiv is a "historical" archive. The official records kept here essentially end with the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian empire at the end of World War I (1918). The collections of the Kriegsarchiv continue to grow on an ongoing basis.