Ernst Bernhard Georg Johann Karl Herzong von Sachsen-Altenburg
(31.08.1871 - 23.03.1955)
place of birth: Schloss Altenburg, Herzogtum Sachsen-Altenburg
General der Infanterie
The final reigning Duke of Saxony-Altenburg, Ernst was the
only son born to Prince Moritz von Sachsen-Altenburg and Princess Augusta. He took charge of
his Duchy upon the death of his uncle Ernst I, who died in February 1908
without surviving male issue. During the Great War, Ernst II saw action
in France's Somme Valley region, and also served as commander of the
8th Infantry Division in 1915 and again in 1916.
As the German Empire marched to War on 2 August 1914, Duke Ernst
II. requested and received command of his Duchy's infantry regiment,
IR.153. He was soon promoted to the rank of General der
Infanterie, although he kept a reputation of wisely subordinating his
decision making to the military experience of lower-ranking officers in
his headquarters. His regiment first saw action at the end of August
during the Battle of Mons. In September, the regiment moved
north to fight in support of Sixth Army during the Battle of Arras.
After briefly replacing the KIA commander of 15th Brigade, Ernst II.
took charge of 16th Brigade on 7 October 1914. After the hostilities at
Arras settled in mid-October, the Duke's troops remained entrenched
there through May 1915. Ernst II. had meanwhile been selected to command
8th Division in March, but soon requested from the Kaiser to be relieved
of that command in order to take care of other pressing duties back in
Saxen-Altenburg. The Kaiser simultaneously acknowledged the Duke's
military leadership with the presentation of the Pour le Merite.
The following April 1916, however, Ernst II. was asked to return
to France and once again lead 8th Infantry Division, which was still
entrenched in the Artois region in support of Sixth Army Headquarters.
The division was soon plunged into the Battle of the River Somme
during the summer of 1916. After the battle died down, however, General
der Infanterie Ernst II. took ill and was forced once again to
relinquish his divisional command. As social unrest reached his Duchy in
November 1918, Ernst II. abdicated, changed his name to Baron von
Rieseneck, and eventually settled at an estate in
Trockenborn-Wolfersdorf near Kahla. He was given the legal right in 1923
to once again carry the title Ernst Herzog von Sachsen-Altenburg,
and in the same year was remarried to the singer Marie Triebel.
By 1935, they had moved into Schloß Fröhliche
Wiederkunft bei Neustadt am Orla. He also
became a member of the NSDAP in 1937. Duke Ernst II. passed away in 1955
and was interred at Trockenborn-Wolfersdorf.
der Infanterie ....
le Mérite ....................
Ritter (Komtur II: 28.08.1916)