Who was Anton Haus?
Admiral Anton Haus was the Commander in Chief of the Austro-Hungarian navy during World War I. He was a well-known naval strategist who saw value in using his fleet as a deterrent against the Allied forces rather than in risky offensive maneuvers. Early in his career, he taught at the Naval Academy in Fiume and published his influential textbook Oceanography and Maritime Meteorology. He was also the Austro-Hungarian envoy to the second Hague Peace Conference in 1907 before World War I broke out. Even though he did lead several heavy attacks with his fleet, he preferred to let light forces, such as submarines and destroyers, do the active fighting. In fact, he was well-known to favor unrestricted submarine warfare. His career saw several promotions, including Vice Admiral in 1907, Commander of Navy in 1913, and Grand Admiral in 1916, which he retained until his death a year later. He also received several awards and medals for his actions, including one posthumously.
Childhood & Early Life
Anton Haus was born on June 13, 1851 at Tolmein, Slovenia (now Tolmin) to a Slovenian-speaking family. Not much information is available about his childhood or life before he joined the military.
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Anton Haus joined the Navy in 1869. His early career began with several shore assignments, including two teaching positions at the Naval Academy in Fiume and the Naval Torpedo School.
Once on sea assignment, he commanded a corvette in an international force sent to China to settle the Boxer Rebellion during 1900-1901. After the rebellion was settled, he stayed in Beijing for a year.
He was the Austo-Hungarian representative to the Second Hague Peace Conference after being promoted to Vice Admiral in 1907.
With the help of his patron, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, he was promoted to Fleet Inspector in 1912, then Navy Commander and Chief Commander of the Naval Section of the War Ministry a year later.
He was a strong proponent for naval expansion. Before the war, he worked on several naval construction plans and promoted naval corporation with the country's Triple Alliance with Italy and Germany.
During the war, he was best known for taking a strategic defensive position with the country's outnumbered Navy. Under his leadership, the Navy carried out the naval war using submarines, fast cruisers, and destroyers. Though frowned upon by Germany, this strategy effectively pinned down Alliance naval force throughout the war.
After the war, he was promoted to Grand Admiral, the only high-ranking official still serving except for the Army Chief of Staff. He held this position until his death in 1917.
During his teaching position at the Naval Academy, Haus published his very influential textbook, Oceanography and Maritime Meteorology in 1891.
Awards & Achievements
Due to the Archduke's patronage, he was promoted to Fleet Inspector in 1912, then Commander in Chief and Navy Commander in 1913.
His victories and achievements during the war got him promoted to Grand Admiral in 1916.
Emperor Karl I conferred upon him the posthumous honour of Commander of the Military Order of Maria Theresa.
Personal Life & Legacy
After an honorable career serving in the Navy, Anton Haus died of pneumonia in Pola, Croatia, on February 2, 1917. He was 66 years old.
In 1925, his remains were exhumed and transported to Vienna when Pola was placed under Italy's sovereignty postwar.
Maximillian Njegoven succeeded Haus as both Fleet Commander and Navy Commander after his death in 1917. Karl Kailer von Kagenfels succeeded in the position of Chief of the Naval Section of the War Ministry.
The fleet Haus maintained during the war was parceled out among the victorious powers after 1918.
During the war, the Alliance wanted the Austro-Hungarian navy to launch an extremely risky offensive against the enemy. He refused however, knowing the outnumbered navy would be overrun by France's superior navy. If it wasn't for his defensive strategy, the navy wouldn't have succeeded as well as they did, especially when Italy switched sides.