Eiss, Alexander von

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EISS, ALEXANDER VON (1832–1921), Austro-Hungarian soldier. Born in Piesling, Moravia, Eiss joined the army in 1848 and took part in Austria's wars against Italy (1849), France and Italy (1859), and Prussia and Italy (1866). He was one of the first Jewish officers to receive many decorations for heroism. Eiss was proud of his Jewish identity and fought more than 30 duels over insults to his people. In 1866 he was awarded the Order of the Iron Crown, which conferred hereditary knighthood upon him. After the conquest of Bosnia, Eiss was awarded the Order of Maria Theresa, after having rejected it years earlier when it entailed his conversion to Christianity. In 1896, after becoming a major-general, he retired from the army and became almost blind. He sometimes appeared in his general's uniform at Zionist meetings in Vienna. His proud Jewish stance brought him to the attention of Herzl, who made him responsible for administering the central organ of the Zionist Organization, Die *Welt. Later, he also headed the Vienna office of the *Jewish National Fund. Also his three sons became officers in the army; two of them fell in World War i.


N. Agmon (Bistritzky) (ed.), Megillat ha-Adamah, 2 (1951), 56; H. Gold (ed.), Die Juden und Judengemeinden Maehrens (1929), 468. add. bibliography: E.A. Schmiedl, Juden in der k. (u.) k. Armee 17881918 (1989); I. Deák, A Social and Political History of the Habsburg Officer Corps 18481918 (1990).

[Mordechai Kaplan]