15th Investiture of the Knighthood of Honour of the Lazarus Union
Burg Kreuzenstein Castle, 13th April 2019
A report by „Spectator“
Pictures by Johannes Ehn and Hans Rudolf Gries
On 13th April 2019, in the castle chapel of the Kreuzenstein castle, the seat of the Lazarus Union and its Knighthood of Honor, the 15th Investiture of the Knighthood of the Lazarus Union took place. It was a dull and cold day and the resulting “gloominess” in the castle chapel reflected in a realistic way the hard times that the Lazarus Union has to endure now.
As a prelude, some comrades could experience a “great” castle tour, in which also rooms and facilities of the Kreuzenstein castle could be visited, which are not accessible to the public.
Exactly at 05:00 p.m. the ceremony started. After the participants had formed (strictly according to protocol and under the guidance of the Grand Chancellor Oliver Gruber Lavin) the entry into the castle chapel that was occupied to the last place began with music accompaniment (sextet of the Music Corps of the Lazarus Union).
The celebration began with playing of the Austrian national anthem.
After the welcome address the remembering of the dead comrades who preceded us to eternity took place. Under the sounds of “Nearer my God to thee” the mourning banner was attached to the corps flag, the memory candle was lighted and our dead comrades were honored with the song “Once I had a comrade …”
The next highlight was the inauguration of the new Grand Master of the Knighthood of Honor, Prof.DDr. Lothar Gellert, who legally took over the position as a General Plenipotentiary on 1st April 2019. He was publicly introduced with this ceremony in his office as “Grand Master of the Knighthood of the Lazarus Union”.
After the new Grand Master had made his public oath, the outgoing Grandmaster removed his official chain, his red mantle and his breast star, took over the simple black mantle from the new Grand Master as a sign of submission and allegiance, and then handed over to him the insignia of his new dignity. Afterwards the fanfare of the Knight of Honor was played and with the ceremonial sword in his hands Prof. Gellert took over his official position.
On behalf of all present officers and Knights of Honor our founding member Chev. Wolfgang Leitner spoke the “Lazarus Union Officer’s pledge” after the assigned officers had come to the corps flag and put their hands on the flag during the reading of the officer’s pledge. After reading the oath formula “… I promise on my honor …” the assigned officers were asked: “Do you promise that?” and all answered in unison “Yes, we promise!”. The conclusion of this act was a chorale.
The following farewell speech of the outgoing General Plenipotentiary and Grand Master of the Lazarus Union, Senator Prof.h.c. Wolfgang Steinhardt, was quite an affair!
As the Grand Protector of the Lazarus Union, BM a.D. Dr. Werner Fasslabend, despite the promise to take part had cancelled again his arrival for “incomprehensible” reasons and had not even sent a “message of greeting”, Senator Steinhardt took over the planned speech of the Grand Protector.
In his speech he concentrated on “honor, sincerity and courage”.
On the occasion of his inauguration in 2015, the Grand Protector of the Lazarus Union publicly promised “… in his honor …” among other things “… to protect and promote the Lazarus Union and its Knighthood of Honor as Grand Master … I will not allow Lazarus Union and its Knighthood of Honor from the outside!”
Especially in difficult times the Lazarus Union has to cope with unjustified and malicious allegations, insinuations and lies, which were incidentally refuted a long time ago, we could have expected that the Grand Protector defends the Lazarus Union and that he at least expresses his solidarity and finds words of comfort and encouragement on the occasion of the Investiture. He had preferred “to take himself out of the line of attack” because (he was advised) “it would not have been of any use …”. Senator Steinhardt unequivocally asked the question whether the Lazarus Union still wanted such an acting Grand Protector. But this was not anymore his decision, but the decision that the new leadership. He therefore asked to see and evaluate these statements as his personal and honest opinion as now a simple member of the Lazarus Union. (Note: On April 22, 2019, the Grand Protector of the Lazarus Union was dismissed from office by the new General Plenipotentiary and expelled from the Knighthood of Honour of the Lazarus Union.)
With every sentence, even every word, the core of matter was hit with razor-sharp logic. With a fine but well-guided blade hints were given to persons who would have deeply disappointed Senator Steinhardt and ultimately were at least an essential piece of the mosaic for his decision to hand over his office. With acumen and unmistakable logic every sentence was a “hit”! Virtues such as honesty and gratitude were clearly mentioned, which many people, even if they call themselves “friends”, were unfortunately often missing. Selfishness plays often a dominate role for many people!
Nevertheless the final balance of his activity for the Lazarus Union that lasted for over 12 years was positive. Senator Steinhardt stated: “… I thank you for the time I was allowed to spend as your General Plenipotentiary. Despite all the disappointments and setbacks I do not want to miss this time in my busy and fulfilling life. I wish the LAZARUS UNION all the best and the success it deserves. Nobody in the Lazarus Union or the Lazarus Union itself needs to be afraid. There are no secrets inside the Lazarus Union and about the Lazarus Union. The Lazarus Union was, is and will be in the future an organization that anyone can be proud of, who has the privilege of contributing here as one of the currently more than 23,000 members worldwide! “
A long-lasting applause underlined the effect of his words.
As a great and “unscheduled” surprise for the outgoing Grandmaster (he is known to love no “surprises” during Investitures) the new Grandmaster took his breast star (the “Grand Star of the Lazarus Union” is the highest award the Lazarus Union has to award and the General Plenipotentiary carries this award during his term of office) and handed it over to Senator Prof.h.c. Wolfgang Steinhardt as thanks and visible award for his achievements for the Lazarus Union. Visibly touched by this surprise, Senator Steinhardt accepted this unexpected tribute in humility and thanks. He is now (except the Grandmaster), the only carrier of this highest award of the Lazarus Union.
Thereafter, the new “Dame Expectants” and “Knight Expectants” in the Knighthood of Honor took place. In total 13 new Expectants were accepted.
The following comrades were elevated to the status of “Dame Expectant” or “Knight Expectant of the Knighthood of Honor of the Lazarus Union” (called Expectants) (ranked in the alphabet of the given name):
Giedrius Paulius Kalninis
The names of non-present comrades were read out according to the statutes and they are therefore also accepted. These are:
Friedrich Jares, Ingrid Volgger, Michael Dan and Walter Martetschläger.
After a musical transition the actual highlight of the investiture ceremony took place. The final admission of the “Expectants” to the Knighthood of Honor of the Lazarus Union. An important and very good step to consider! It was expressly pointed out again that this Knighthood of Honor cannot be ended unilaterally by the Knight of Honor. Only the Chapter of the Knighthood of Honor can release a Knight of Honor from his promise or deny him his Knighthood of Honor. The admission to the Knighthood of Honor as “Expectant” and also the decision to become a “Knight of Honor” has to be made by secret ballot and unanimously.
Thirteen postulants were added to the “Knights of Honor” and all postulants publicly took their oath. The postulants, who could not be present in person, had done so in writing in advance.
As Knight of Honor knights or Dame of Honor were admitted (ranked after the alphabet of the first name):
Hans Georg Pesch
The names of absent postulants have been read out according to the statutes and are therefore also admitted. These are:
Adolf Obendrauf, Gabriele Neuen and Peter Michael Neuen.
After the postulants received the sword, mantle, and Cross of the Knighthood of Honor the Knights Fanfare was played for each postulant and for his honor. They were welcomed with a big applause.
After the “Saint Francis prayer” and the “Prayer from the Austrian tattoo” this important part of the ceremony ended with the “Triumphal march from the opera Aida”.
With the next program “Promotions and Awards” this 15th Investiture was slowly coming to an end.
The following comrades were promoted to “Officers” (the preliminary stage to the Knighthood of Honor):
Maik Sülzle (Chev. Danny Koch took over the insignia for him),
Dr. Thomas Draxler.
The following were admitted “Knight Commanders”:
Herbert Alexander Bauer
Komm.Rat Dkfm. Harry Tomek was awarded the dignity of a “Grand Cross Knight of the Knighthood of Honor of the Lazarus Union”. So far only five Knights of Honor have been awarded with this high dignity and high rank in the ten-year history of the Lazarus Union. Among them Governor a.D. Dr. Erwin Pröll, who received this honor in 2018 on the occasion of our 14th Investiture in the Theresian Military Academy in Wiener Neustadt!
After the “Rainer march” the new Grandmaster spoke the closing words. He thanked all the comrades for their efforts in carrying out this 15th Investiture of the Knighthood of Honor and also asked for their help, support and loyalty in the future. The celebration officially ended with the words “VIRIBUS UNITIS”.
Accompanied by the Lazarus Union march the moving out took place to make the usual group photo according to the rules of the “protocol” in the courtyard. Here the company “Festlmacher” has perfectly prepared the agape in the meantime. Unfortunately, it was already very cold and it was quickly dark, so that the social conclusion of this very beautiful and impressive celebration was unfortunately missing. The castle courtyard of Kreuzenstein castle in the twilight already has an impressive flair nobody could escape.
Finally, a big thank you to the lord of the manor, Hans Christian Graf Wilczek, Collar Knight of the Knighthood of Honor of the Lazarus Union, for the hospitality and the castellan Michael Schandl, who supported us wonderfully and energetically in the run-up and of course to the musicians our Music Corps, which contributed significantly to the success with over twenty pieces of music.
Further picture impressions: