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Help! Austro-Hungarian Picture Identification

Article about: Hello all, I hoping to get a little more information about this photograph. This here is (supposedly) my great great grandfather, a man by the name of Franz Zalenka (or something like that).

  1. #1

    Default Help! Austro-Hungarian Picture Identification

    Hello all,

    I hoping to get a little more information about this photograph. This here is (supposedly) my great great grandfather, a man by the name of Franz Zalenka (or something like that). I can remember my grandfather telling me about this photograph as a child, and he claimed it was a picture of a Prussian soldier. Only after going through the family documents again many years later did I realize this was actually an Austrian soldier. My great grandfather immigrated to the U.S. from a small village in Germany called Senftenberg. However, the family history is a little murky past that.

    Unfortuantely the original photograph is with another relative so all I have is a scan. There is some writing on the back in pencil that is too faded to read well, although I think the top line is the name mentioned above. I would really appreciate any information at all, especially if anyone could identify his medals and the relative date of the photograph.


    Help! Austro-Hungarian Picture Identification

    Help! Austro-Hungarian Picture Identification

    Help! Austro-Hungarian Picture Identification

    Help! Austro-Hungarian Picture Identification

    Help! Austro-Hungarian Picture Identification

  2. #2
    MAP
    MAP is online now
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    Well the photo is post 1863.

    For the record I know zilch about these uniforms. So my comments are just from a few minutes of digging.

    Your GGG appears to be a Sgt or Captain (both had three stars, NCO in white and officer in silver or gold). The tunic appears to have hidden buttons and scalloped pockets which is consistent with AH uniforms from WW1 era or just earlier. It is near impossible to determine the color of the collar patches but they are very dark. Maybe green or a deep red?

    See the link below for an example of a WW1 era uniform.

    Austrian-Hungarian Common Army Infantry Uniforms 1914-1918

    And a link for ranks

    Austro-Hungarian Army - Wikipedia

    I can however only see one shoulder strap.

    Haven't identified the awards yet. Looked at WW1 period but not match. So maybe pre war? But they do have the classic Austrian "triangle" mount ribbon.

    Again...all guess work as I don't study these so best wait for others
    "Please", Thank You" and proper manners appreciated

    My greatest fear is that one day I will die and my wife will sell my guns for what I told her I paid for them

    "Don't tell me these are investments if you never intend to sell anything" (Quote: Wife)

  3. #3

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    Agree with MAP

    First decoration frrom left:
    I think is the Golden Cross of Merit with Crown (Goldenes Verdienstkreuz mit Krone)
    Its face with a circular central white enamel medallion bearing the silver gilt letters ‘FJ’ for Emperor Franz Joseph I (1848-1916) encircled by the inscription in gilt letters ‘VIRIBUS UNITIS’ (strength through unity); the reverse with a circular central white enamel medallion bearing the date ‘1849’ in gilt numerals; on wartime ribbon.
    The cross was instituted on 16 February 1850 (1849 being the year of Emperor Franz Joseph's ascent of the throne) in four grades - Gold with and without Crown and Silver with and without Crown – to be awarded ‘for true and lasting devotion to the monarch and the fatherland; also for long and useful activity in public service and for other services for the common good’ (‘für treue und bewährte Ergebenheit gegenüber dem Herrscher und den Vaterland verliehen werden, sowie auch für vieljährige nutzbringende Betätigung in öffentlichen Diensten oder auch für andere Verdienste zu Gunsten des allgemeine Wohles’).

    Help! Austro-Hungarian Picture Identification

  4. #4

    Default

    Second decoration.
    Unlike the previous ribbon: the red and white laddered ribbon often referred to as the “war ribbon” (Kriegsband) this is a red civil ribbon: Ponceau red (Poppy red) ribbon that was used to suspend numerous Austrian civil orders, medals and decorations

    Help! Austro-Hungarian Picture Identification

    The cross is not clear enough to me.

    Best regards.

    Santi

  5. #5

    Default

    By the way I love the spatiality of the photographer who made the portrait of your great great grandfather:

    "Specialität: Vergrößerungen nach Kleinen bildern in allen grössen"

    Specialty: enlargements to small pictures in all sizes

  6. #6
    MAP
    MAP is online now
    ?

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    Excellent call on the civil ribbon Santi. That had me stumped. I too thought the other might be the cross of merit but was not sure on the ribbon with the black/white of the photo leading me to think the ribbon wasn't red. I was stumped.

    Good call
    "Please", Thank You" and proper manners appreciated

    My greatest fear is that one day I will die and my wife will sell my guns for what I told her I paid for them

    "Don't tell me these are investments if you never intend to sell anything" (Quote: Wife)

  7. #7

    Default

    Thank you so much for your help! I had a feeling it was First World War era but figured I would put it out there to be sure. Hopefully someday soon I can get the actual photograph to see if the back can be deciphered at all.

  8. #8

    Default

    Quote by TABSTABS1964 View Post
    Agree with MAP

    First decoration frrom left:
    I think is the Golden Cross of Merit with Crown (Goldenes Verdienstkreuz mit Krone)
    Its face with a circular central white enamel medallion bearing the silver gilt letters ‘FJ’ for Emperor Franz Joseph I (1848-1916) encircled by the inscription in gilt letters ‘VIRIBUS UNITIS’ (strength through unity); the reverse with a circular central white enamel medallion bearing the date ‘1849’ in gilt numerals; on wartime ribbon.
    The cross was instituted on 16 February 1850 (1849 being the year of Emperor Franz Joseph's ascent of the throne) in four grades - Gold with and without Crown and Silver with and without Crown – to be awarded ‘for true and lasting devotion to the monarch and the fatherland; also for long and useful activity in public service and for other services for the common good’ (‘für treue und bewährte Ergebenheit gegenüber dem Herrscher und den Vaterland verliehen werden, sowie auch für vieljährige nutzbringende Betätigung in öffentlichen Diensten oder auch für andere Verdienste zu Gunsten des allgemeine Wohles’).

    Help! Austro-Hungarian Picture Identification
    Wow thank you so much for shining a bit more light on this old family mystery. Family legend has it that he was killed in a train explosion in France, something I have yet to confirm.

  9. #9

    Default

    Hopefully it turns out to be something revealing to identify the place or the moment in which the photograph was taken.

    We will wait to see it. Good luck in researching the history of your ancestor.

    Anyway, have a little patience, because there are many members of the forum who may be able to recognize the cross that I have not been able to identify.


  10. #10
    MAP
    MAP is online now
    ?

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    If you can get anymore information it might help narrow down the color of the collar tabs. Then you would know what branch he served in. Artillery, mountain troops, etc.

    But given the dark color you could research the different color variations and narrow it down. Also, do you know if he was an officer or enlisted? I don't know these insignia but from what I saw it was either Sgt or Capt
    "Please", Thank You" and proper manners appreciated

    My greatest fear is that one day I will die and my wife will sell my guns for what I told her I paid for them

    "Don't tell me these are investments if you never intend to sell anything" (Quote: Wife)

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