Several Russian pages claim that Austrian general Franz Riml von Altrosenburg said the following:

Galician Russians can be divided in two groups: a) Russophiles and b) Ukrainophiles.

If it is at all possible, the only way to correct Russians is by applying means of unprotected terror. In my opinion, all Russophiles are radicals and must be exterminated without mercy.

Original Russian text:

«Галицийские русские разделяются на две группы: а) русофилов и б) украинофилов. Если вообще можно русских исправить, то это возможно единственно при применении средств беззащитного террора. Мое мнение, что все русофилы являются радикалами и их следует беспощадно уничтожать».

This quote is mentioned quite widely in Russian search engine Yandex (5 pages of search results if you enter that quote).

According to Wikipedia (German) Franz Riml was indeed chief of staff in Lemberg and had the rank of a colonel.

Did Franz Riml actually said that Russophies must be exterminated?

If yes, please provide source information.

Update 1: Found some references to documents containing Riml's statement in Lemberg, Lwow, and Lviv 1914-1947: Violence and Ethnicity in a Contested City by Christopher Mick (see yellow highlights in the image below):

Documents with statements by Franz Riml von Altrosenburg

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    Said to be in ÖStA AVA MdI Präs. 19/3. Zl. 17256/15, but I can't access that now. Feb 25, 2020 at 9:55
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    @LаngLаngС Many thanks! I assume "ÖStA" means "Österreichisches Staatsarchiv". Can you please decipher "Mdl" and "Präs"?
    – user23839
    Feb 25, 2020 at 13:29
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    Yep. Ministerium des Inneren, Präsidiale/Präsidium, like this. If Riml is mentioned, two sources crop up always, the other being: 'Central’nyj Derˇzavnyj Istoryˇcnyj Archiv Ukra ̈ıny, m. L’viv'. Feb 25, 2020 at 13:55
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    @LаngLаngС Thanks. I wil try to find these documents in the archive and post the results here.
    – user23839
    Feb 25, 2020 at 13:58
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    Can you fix the title to say "Ruthenian" instead of "Ukrainian"? "Russophile Ukrainian" was nearly a contradiction in terms. "Ruthenian" was the neutral ethnic identifier. "Ukrainian" implied a set of commitments about identity that were nearly incompatible with being Russophile.
    – C Monsour
    Mar 2, 2020 at 20:05

1 Answer 1


Yes, he did

As @LangLangC wrote in a comment, the relevant document is available at the Austrian State Archive (Nottendorfer Gasse 2, 1030 Wien) under the number ÖStA AVA MdI Präs. 19/3. Zl. 17256/15. The staff will give you a folder, slightly bigger than A4 that looks like this:

Folder with the documents, front cover
(click images for higher resolution)

Inside this folder there are multiple handwritten and typed documents, including the "Report on impressions and perceptions after reconquest of Lemberg by major general Riml, 1915" (Bericht über Eindrücke und Wahrnehmungen nach der Wiedereroberung Lembergs v. Gm. Riml). Its cover looks like this (note the red handwritten text 17256/15 in the upper right corner):

Cover of "Bericht über Eindrücke und Wahrnehmungen nach der Wiedereroberung Lembergs v. Gm. Riml"

The statements we are looking for are located on pages 15 and 16 of this document.

Page 15:

Page 15 of "Bericht über Eindrücke und Wahrnehmungen nach der Wiedereroberung Lembergs v. Gm. Riml"

Page 16:

Page 16 of "Bericht über Eindrücke und Wahrnehmungen nach der Wiedereroberung Lembergs v. Gm. Riml"

Here are the relevant fragments of the original German text.

Page 15

b) Ruthenen

Zerfallen im Großen in 2 Gruppen:

1) Moskalophile (Staatsfeindliche und Hochverräter)

2) Ukrainer (Österreicher)

b) Ruthenians Can largely be split up into 2 groups:
1) Moscowphiles (subversives/enemies of the state and high traitors)
2) Ukrainians (Austrians)

Page 16

Daß die Russophilen Hochverräter sind, bedarf hienach wohl keiner weiteren Erörterung; diese müßten ekrasiert und hiezu kein Mittel gescheut werden. Wenn die Russophilen [...] überhaupt zu bekehren sind, so nur durch rücksichtsloseste Strenge.

Die öfters zum Ausdruck gebrachten Ansichten über "gemäßigt russophile" Parteien oder Personen gehören in das Land der Märchen.

Meiner Ansicht nach sind alle Russophilen radikal und müßten ausnahmslos unbarmherzig verfolgt werden.

That the Russophiles are traitors does not need any further discussion; they should be pruned and no means should be spared for this. If the Russophiles [...] can be converted at all, then only by the most ruthless severity.
The views often expressed about "moderate Russophile" parties or persons belong in the land of fairy tales.
In my opinion, all Russophiles are radicals and should be mercilessly persecuted without exception.

  • 3
    Good find. It's always nice to see primary sources from archives cited in answers. Mar 2, 2020 at 12:41
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    Except for "extermination"! In light of later policies toward Eastern lands this might be understandable, and many in the administration and military in Germany and Austria will have read it in that way. But strictly speaking, it is not in the text! The original is a bit less eliminatory. Mar 2, 2020 at 12:55
  • That is, it hinges a bit on how you interpret an Austrian military in 1915 using Verfolgung and more important "ekrasieren" "То, что русофилы - предатели, не нуждается в дальнейших дискуссиях; их нужно раздавить, и для этого нельзя щадить никаких средств. Если русофилы [...] вообще могут быть обращены в веру, то только по самой беспощадной строгости. Мнения, часто высказываемые по поводу "умеренных русскофильских" партий или лиц, принадлежащих к земле сказок. На мой взгляд, все русскофилы радикальны и должны безжалостно преследоваться без исключения. Mar 2, 2020 at 17:02
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    @LаngLаngС After your previous comment I looked up what ekrasieren means. At least one source ( enzyklo.de/Begriff/Ekrasieren ) claims it is (among others) a synonym for vernichten. In my subjective opinion, vernichten can be translated as "physically exterminate." Another meaning (same URL) is zermalmen which can be translated as grind (transform someone or something into dust) or crush.
    – user23839
    Mar 2, 2020 at 19:02
  • That's what I am unsure about. In light of the later Holocaust, ekrasieren as zermalmen etc a case could be made for paraphrasing the first occurrence into the phrasing of the latter. Persecute and quell—the movement (he still talks about motivations)—is different than what was on the horizon for 'russsophiles' and Jews in that area? I guess a caveat for the exact words and meaning might be in order. Riml was a forerunner in thinking almost like nazis, but not quite? Ekrasieren is a strange French word anyways, but in the flow of the text and exact position? Persecution ≠ mass killings. Mar 2, 2020 at 19:11

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