Kuk Military Geography Institute

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Former Military Geography Institute in Vienna
The building of the Military Geography Institute in 1860 (center)

The kuk (until 1889: kk ) Military Geography Institute was an institution of the Austrian Empire , after 1867 of the joint Austro-Hungarian army , with its seat in Vienna . It was created on January 7th, 1839 from the merger of the Imperiale Reale Istituto geografico militare and the topographical-lithographic institute of the Imperial and Royal General Quartermaster's Staff and had its seat from 1841 on what was then Glacis , later at Friedrich-Schmidt-Platz 3, in Vienna (at the Two lines behind the later built town hall; the roof of the building is still adorned with an oversized oneGlobe ).

Corporal of the Military Geographic Institute in initial adjustment without a sidearm


The institute emerged from a similar institution that had been set up in northern Italy under Napoléon . In 1800, a Ministry of War of the Cisalpine Republic was created in Milan . This had to collect maps; In 1802 a military topographers corps (Corpo degl'Ingegneri Geografi) was set up, which was entrusted with the triangulation and land survey. These institutions remained in the later Austrian Kingdom of Lombardo-Venetia : Emperor Franz I of Austria approved the "temporary retention of the (military) Bureau topographique in Milan" by handwriting on September 1, 1814.

The further development was influenced by the plans to create a general land register of the monarchy: the "stable cadastre", which was also called Franziszeischer cadastre . January 5, 1818 is also assumed to be the founding date; On that day, the "highest resolution" was passed, to let the institute in Milan exist for the time being, but to move personnel and work to the topographical bureau in Vienna and not to assign any new work to the Milan institute.

On February 25, 1839, most of the military employees from Milan agreed to be transferred to Vienna, the capital of the Austrian Empire . Only a few employees who retired for reasons of age or health or who could be transferred to other authorities and offices were excluded. The history of the institute in Milan ended on November 21, 1839 with the public auction of the rest of the items that were not taken to Vienna and otherwise appeared unusable.

In 1841 Josef Freiherr von Skribanek , previously a sub-director, became director of the institute. Thanks to his efforts, it was possible to unite the most outstanding forces of the two institutions, Vienna and Milan, and to bring about the famous establishment of the military-geographic institute that had emerged from it, as well as the re-establishment of a separate corps of engineers and geographers.

The institute under his direction received the great medal (Conseilsmedaille) at the great industrial exhibition in London on October 16, 1851 , for its outstanding achievements in the field of military maps (photo and detailed maps of the surroundings of Vienna and Italy ), with the main part of fame was probably due to its long-term leader.

Until 1888 the name was, contrary to the system since 1868, " kk military geographic institute". It was not until 1889 that the prefix " kuk " was introduced for the army and its establishments under Hungarian pressure to indicate that they had been common since the settlement with Hungary in 1867 Institutions of both states of Austria-Hungary acted. The institute belonged to the area of ​​responsibility of the Chief of General Staff and from 1913 was directly subordinate to the War Ministry .

Older archive documents were destroyed before the First World War, and documents from later times are no longer completely available. More detailed information on the history of MGI are only in the collection of the Imperial War Council and the Quartermaster General Staff included, located in the State Archive / Military Archives are in Vienna. However, the working documents (Operate) of the triangulations and the library have largely been preserved. The archive of the regional survey, the map collection, has also been preserved, with the documents from the first and second regional surveys being kept in the Austrian State Archives. Due to the State Treaty of St. Germain 1919, those documents (map sheets, printing plates, etc.) from the sheets of the Third Land Recording had to be passed on to the successor states of the monarchy in which at least half of the area represented was located. However, black and white copies of these sheets are available.

Friedrich von Beck-Rzikowsky , in his general staff function, had a decisive influence on the work of the institute: the suggestion for the creation of the general map of Central Europe and the introduction of photogrammetry as a recording process for topographic maps are attributed to him.

The high quality of the map series from the MGI, which was available in a short time, was unprecedented, attracted international attention and earned the Military Geographic Institute a number of awards.

The employees of the MGI were also active outside the borders of the monarchy. In 1828, for example, a general staff captain was commissioned to draw up a sketch (croquis) of the road from Belgrade to Constantinople , which was then used in drawing up the new map of European Turkey. Correspondingly, there was no lack of relevant poaching attempts: for example, one of the best-known employees of the MGI, the head of the cartographic work, Joseph Ritter von Scheda , was asked three times to enter Russian service under the most brilliant conditions .

The recognition that the mapping of what was then still Turkish territory in Southeastern Europe had received prompted the Greek government to also request assistance in the surveying of their national territory. As a result, a geodetic mission was formed which worked in Greece from 1889 and trained local personnel there. The inclusion of Greece was completed in 1896.

In addition to its competencies in national surveying, the MGI was also a leader in matters of map printing. The technical developments in lithography and copperplate engraving were carefully followed, applied and refined. 1846 was the MGI electroforming introduced: With this technique, a deduction was newly engraved copper engraving plates initially generated from that tax could also multiple printing plates are created. This procedure facilitated the production of large editions of map sheets with consistent quality even before the introduction of photomechanical gravure printing in 1869. High-speed lithographic presses were used from 1876 , later aluminum printing plates. In 1873 the production of new maps was switched from copperplate engraving to photogravure , the results were presented at the world exhibition in Vienna in 1873 .

The advances in printing technology and their use in the MGI ensured that the map series was widely used. The maps from the MGI, which were released for public distribution, were distributed by the Artaria art dealer in Vienna.

Globe on the roof of the former Military Geography Institute


The “Organic provisions for the K. u. K. Military Geographic Institute "contain the following description:

The military-geographic institute has to produce the maps necessary for the army. This requires: the geodetic surveying , the mapping , the drawing and keeping of the maps , and finally the reproduction and duplication of them. Relevant work can be arranged for private individuals if business conditions permit. ...

The commandant ... is responsible for ensuring that the institute can always meet the cartographic needs of the army as perfectly as possible.

The group leaders in particular have to keep in touch with the other parts of the institute and to take the initiative to promote work that is not assigned to them. They are supposed to check emerging innovations and make them useful to the institute.

The area of ​​responsibility of the MGI encompassed the entire Austro-Hungarian monarchy. After the loss of Northern Italy and the gain of Bosnia and Herzegovina, it was an area of ​​around 677,000 km², which included all topographical forms of Central Europe from steppe areas in Galicia to the high mountain areas of the Alps.

In addition, the MGI had to deal with the tasks of geodetic measurements in order to keep the maps up to date from a geodetic point of view.

From 1881 to 1913, the MGI published its own specialist journal: Die Mitt (h) eilungen des kaiserl. royal (since 1889 imperial and royal) Military-Geographical Institute. Published on the orders of the k. (U.) K. Reich War Ministry. (MMI). There you can also find works on the institute in Milan.


Commander of the Institute one was an officer in the rank of general . The institute consisted of five groups:

  • astronomical-geodetic group
  • Mapping group
  • topographical group
  • technical group
  • Management group

The staff consisted of staff and senior officers, civil servants and technical support staff. The officers were divided into a technical branch and a technical branch and assigned to the appropriate groups.

The technical officers carried the following titles:

Factory officers:

  • Oberwerkführer 1st class (captain's rank)
  • Oberwerkführer 2nd class (captain's rank)
  • Works leader (first lieutenant)
  • Assistant works leader: lieutenant rank

The technical support staff consisted of foremen and technical assistants. The NCOs and men came from the troops and, regardless of their main unit, had the following rankings: Sergeant - NCO - Fuhrer - Corporal - Private - Institute soldier .

The MGI had two buildings: the “A building” (main building) on what would later become the Landesgerichtsstrasse was completed in 1842 and an additional storey was added in 1870/71, the “B building” with the mapping service of the regional survey in Krotenthallergasse in Vienna- Josefstadt , for example 600 meters from the A building, it was completed in 1905 (“new B building”). This building was the successor to the "old B-building", which had been at the same location on the site of the former Josefstädter Reiterkaserne, which had been converted in 1759 by Johann Thomas Trattner for his printing house. Since 1875 the "press department" of the Military Geographic Institute has been located there.


Neither the technical nor the factory officers wore a portepee. Their adjustment was based on the artillery officers. They wore dark green tunics with black velvet collars and cuffs and a scarlet passepoilation. The blouse was also green and provided with black velvet, red passepoilierte Parolis. The technical officers had white, smooth buttons on their tunic; the factory officers had smooth and yellow buttons.

Team tunic

The NCOs and men wore the infantry chako with a dark green tunic or the pike-gray field cap with a pike-gray blouse. The tunic was equipped with a row of six yellow smooth buttons, a scarlet collar, armpit clasps, and cuffs. Pantaloons and cloaks were made of pike-gray cloth, also with scarlet parolis but without passepoils. NCOs up to and including corporal wore the infantry officer's saber and the cavalry portepee. Private and Institute soldiers carried the infantry saber.


In Austria , after the First World War , the MGI's agendas were transferred to the Federal Surveying Office and the Cartographic Institute (at Krotenthallergasse 3) in a lengthy process that lasted from August 1, 1919 to February 25, 1921, of which the Earth measurements and topography were incorporated into the Federal Office for Metrology and Surveying (BAfEuV, BEV from 1982) on September 21, 1923 .

The production of maps lived on as a "cartographic, formerly military geographic institute"; it was to be run as a commercial state enterprise. Under the National Socialist rule in 1938, this institute was merged with the BAfEuV (by splitting off the calibration system) to form the "Main Surveying Department XIV". In 1945 it was reorganized as part of the BAfEuV with the name “Federal Office for Metrology and Surveying (Land Recording)”.

The abbreviation MGI also became the name of the geodetic datum calculated by this institute .

The sonorous name of this venerable institution provided the idea for the name of the military facility of the Federal Armed Forces that is relevant today , the Institute for Military Geosciences (IMG).

See also

Web links

Commons : Military uniforms of Austria-Hungary  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Commons : Details of military uniforms of Austria-Hungary  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Commons : General map of the europ. Turkey and the Kingdom of Greece  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files


  • Martin Seger , Hans Sünkel , Gerhard L. Fasching, Friedrich Teichmann: From the “state secret” to satellite-based geographic information. In the series: Commission for scientific cooperation with departments of the Federal Ministry for National Defense and Sport - project reports. Volume 16. Publishing house of the Austrian Academy of Sciences . Vienna 2015. ISBN 978-3-7001-7727-2 .
  • Ernst Hofstätter: Contributions to the history of the Austrian regional surveys: An overview of the topographical survey procedures, their origins, their developments and organizational forms of the four Austrian regional surveys. Published by the Federal Office for Metrology and Surveying. 2 volumes. Vienna 1989 DNB 943 727 200 .
  • Johann Christoph Allmayer-Beck, Erich Lessing: The Kuk Army. 1848-1914 . Bertelsmann publishing house, Munich 1974, ISBN 3-570-07287-8 .
  • Robert Messner: The Vienna Military Geographic Institute. A contribution to the history of its creation from the Milan Military Geography Institute. In: Max Kratochwill (editor): Yearbook of the Association for the History of the City of Vienna. Volume 23/25, 1967/69. Verlag Ferdinand Berger & Sons, Horn / Vienna 1969, pp. 206-292.
  • Ludwig Wilhelm Seidel (ed.): Seidel's small army scheme. Dislocation and division of the Imperial and Royal Army, the Imperial and Royal Navy, the Imperial and Royal Landwehr and the Royal Hungarian Landwehr. Seidel, Vienna, 8th year (1861) to 61st year (1907). Predecessor: "KK Austrian army scheme for the year ..."
  • Austrian State Archives / War Archives in Vienna: Adjustment regulation for the Austro-Hungarian Army. III. Part, Vienna 1911.
  • Special issue 9 of the Austrian Journal for Surveying, ed. from the Federal Office for Metrology and Surveying, Surveying Group, owner and publisher: Österreichischer Verein für Vermessungswesen, Vienna 1949, DNB 369339703 .
  • Karl Lego: History of the Austrian land register. Federal Office for Metrology and Surveying, Vienna undated , OCLC 630809732 .
  • Glenn Jewison, Jörg C. Steiner: The Austro-Hungarian Land Forces 1848-1918. (on-line)
  • Josef Mitter: On the history of the origins of the Vienna Military Geographic Institute . In: Osterreichische Zeitschrift für Vermessungswesen 58 (3), pp. 92–95, 1970.

Individual evidence

  1. Nekrolog in: Austrian Soldier Friend , 6, No. 45, Vienna 1853, p. 356
  2. ^ Austria: Tagblatt für Handel und Gewerbe, public buildings and transport , No. 247, from Tuesday, October 21, 1851, p. 1820
  3. Messner, pp. 211-221
  4. Hofstätter, p. 173 f.
  5. Messner, p. 246
  6. General German biography . Volume 53. Supplements to 1899: Paulitschke – Schets, Leipzig 1907, p. 737
  7. Hofstätter, p. 171 f.
  8. Messner, p. 236 f.
  9. Messner, p. 282
  10. Anton Durstmüller, Norbert Frank: 500 years pressure in Austria: the development history of the graphic arts industry from its beginnings to the present. Volume 2: The Austrian graphic industry between revolution and world war: 1848 to 1918. Main Association of Austrian Graphic Companies, Vienna 1986, ISBN 3-85104-500-9 , p. 220 f.
  11. quoted from Messner, p. 207 f.
  12. Messner, p. 209, refers to: Heinrich Hartl: Das militair-geographische Institut in Milan. MMI, Volume VIII, Vienna 1888, p. 145
  13. Messner, p. 256 f.
  14. Adjustment regulation for the Austro-Hungarian Army Part V. from 1911
  15. Messner, p. 207.

Coordinates: 48 ° 12 ′ 37 ″  N , 16 ° 21 ′ 18.3 ″  E