Investiture of the Knighthood of Honour of the Lazarus Union
held on 19th September 2021 at Perchtoldsdorf Castle
Report by “Spectator”
Pictures by Johann Wukovits, Oi Volnhals and Wolfgang Steinhardt
Video “INVESTITURE” by Johannes Bartosch CLICK HERE
Video “GRAND TATTOO” by Johannes Bartosch CLICK HERE
After a one-year Corona-related break, an Investiture of the Knighthood of Honour of the Lazarus Union took place on 19th September – this time in Perchtoldsdorf Castle near Vienna. Despite restrictions and requirements due to the pandemic, the organization team had realized an impressive program. We welcomed comrades from Germany, Canada, Great Britain, India, Jordan, Pakistan, Hungary and Lithuania.
Exactly at 3 p.m. the Investiture ceremony began with the positioning and ceremonial entry of the banners, Knights of Honour, candidates and guests into the new castle hall, accompanied by the sounds of the Music Corps of the Lazarus Union head y of Fritz Lentner.
After the Austrian national anthem, Oliver Gruber-Lavin, the Vice General Plenipotentiary and Secretary-General of the Lazarus Union, in his function as protocol officer, who also led through the entire program, asked the acting Grand Master and General Plenipotentiary for his welcoming speech. In his charming, calm and sovereign manner, Lothar Gellert expressed his joy that so many people had accepted the invitation and attended this largest celebration of the Lazarus Union as members or guests.
The greeting was followed by the commemoration of the dead for all deceased comrades, which the Grand Master introduced by lighting the memorial candle. The mourning banner was placed over the names of the recently decended and commemorated with the song “Ich hatt’ einen Kameraden”.
Next, the officer’s promise was accepted, in which previously assigned officers with their hands on the corps flag on behalf of all officers present affirmed the oath formula with the words “Yes, we promise”.
This was followed by the admission of the new dames and knights candidates to the Knighthood of Honour. The names of those not present were read in accordance with the statutes, so that they are also considered to be included. Modern technology made it possible to “bring the new absent candidates into the hall” by projecting their photo and their most important data on a screen.
After the admission of the “Knight-Expectants”, there was a musical transition of the Music Corps, the actual highlight of the Investiture celebration followed, i.e. the final admission of the previous candidates to the Knighthood of Honour. Before this significant step, it was once again pointed out that the Knighthood of Honour cannot be terminated unilaterally by the Knight of Honour or by a Dame of Honour and that the oath must be well considered.
In total 15 postulants were then provided by the Grand Master with all signs of Knighthood of honour and after each had received the sword, the coat, the neck cross and the classic accolade, the Knight`s fanfare was played to his/her honour and the other attendees were asked for strong applause. Here, too, the reading of the names of those who were unable to be present in person was considered a recording. This also applies to three members of the German Knightly Order of St. Peter & Paul: William Harrison, Amanda Holmes and Jörg Berndt.
The program item “Promotions and Awards” slowly inaugurates the end of the ceremony. In appreciation and recognition of his achievement, the Grand Master appointed the former Grand Prior of the Order of St. Michael, Vienna, Gerhard Ficker, as Knight Commander. Furthermore, Alan Woolley was awarded the dignity of Grand Prefect of Canada and raised to the rank of Knight Grand Commander.
After the Francis prayer, which was spoken together – voluntarily – the Grand Master thanked all those who had contributed to the success of this celebration, whether in front of or behind the scenes. Lothar Gellert also found words of thanks and appreciation for all those comrades who practice the eight knightly virtues in their lives on a daily basis and are in action where help is needed and perhaps for this very reason could not be present in person.
Under musical accompaniment, all participants moved out of the castle hall in a solemn arrangement and then gathered in the castle courtyard. Here, too, Oliver Gruber-Lavin led through the protocol of the Great Military Tattoo, which was held in honor of the current and the previous General Plenipotentiary and Grand Master.
With the old castle as a beautiful backdrop, Lothar Gellert and Wolfgang Steinhardt paced off the flag front of the present associations and finally handed over friendship ribbons to the flags present. The absolute highlight was, of course, the Great Military Tattoo with the General de Charge. This procedure was so impressive that individual residents of Perchtoldsdorf joined in as spectators from a reasonable distance.
In the meantime, the new castle hall had been completely redesigned and awaited the registered members and guests for a gala dinner, which was also accompanied by the Music Corps. During the convivial meal, further awards were made. After his address to the guests, in which he also reviewed episodes from his term of office, Wolfgang Steinhardt asked the current Grand Master to make the honors. For example musicians of the Lazarus Union received decrees and awards in recognition of their achievements.
After all honors and awards had been made in the name of the Lazarus Union, the Grand Master gave the floor to the High Lady of Honor of the German Knightly Order of St. Peter & Paul Brigitte Gellert and thus gave her the opportunity to hand the Silver Medal of Honor of St. Peter & Paul and the corresponding decree to Elisabeth Raidl (Organisation of Kiwanis KC Wien Belvedere) in recognition of her personal and selfless work for tolerance, mercy and charity. The festive setting of this evening also served a new recording and so Karl Fleischhacker (Austrian Comradeship Association Guntramsdorf) was able to get the Decree as a Knight candidate of the German Knightly Order of St. Peter & Paul and received the neck order.
After all these awards and the performances of the Music Corps of the Lazarus Union, there was unfortunately little time for personal conversations at the end of the event at 10 p.m. and so all those participants broke up with the wish and the promise to see each other again as soon as possible.
Various speeches of the Grandmaster:
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear comrades and friends of the International Lazarus Union
I am pleased that you are giving us the honour of being present at this Great Tattoo in front of Perchtoldsdorf Castle.
A castle from the 11th century, that means at the beginning of the heyday of chivalry. We certainly could not find a more beautiful scenery for the investiture of the Knighthood of Honour.
The Great Tattoo is traditionally carried out whenever high-ranking personalities are bid farewell. And with this Tattoo we want to honor the founder of the International Lazarus Union, Senator Professor hc Wolfgang Steinhardt in a very special way. He had the vision of establishing an internationally active charitable organization and thanks to his tireless commitment, he succeeded in doing so in a very special way. Today we are represented in more than 120 countries around the world with more than 23,000 members.
We owe this to you dear Wolfgang and I hope that this Tattoo gives you as much joy as me and as all of us here.
Let us therefore enjoy this Great Tattoo as a very special event.
Thank you very much
Address of the Grand Master to the postulants before the investiture
Dear Comrades, Distinguished Guests, Excellencies, Dignitaries,
Ladies and Gentlemen!
First of all, I would like to thank you very much for finding or having found your way here to Perchtoldsdorf.
This is anything but self-evident in view of the difficult conditions that have dominated our everyday lives in many ways for more than a year.
Your presence expresses sympathy for our Lazarus Union and the people who work in and for it. And without mentioning anyone by name, I warmly welcome you as friends.
Dear comrades of the International Lazarus Union, we are celebrating here and today the 21st anniversary of the Knighthood of Honour. I make no secret of the fact that I would have loved to have celebrated this event without the protective measures that have unfortunately become necessary.
But the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic don’t stop at events of this kind.
We are now standing here in these beautiful rooms of Perchtoldsdorf Castle and try to protect ourselves as far as possible.
And so today from here we carry the spirit of the Lazarus Union out into the world.
However, changes and variations related to the effects of the pandemic do not affect me alone, I am well aware of that.
Over the past 18 months, we have all experienced and endured adjustments in many areas of our everyday lives. This was and still is true for our private lives as well as for our chivalrous environment. As the Lazarus Union – and I say this here with conviction and pride – we have been able to adapt our actions worldwide at all levels to the respective circumstances in a professional manner. However, it should not be overlooked that all this has cost enormous energy in many places and required a lot of flexibility. I will come back to that in a moment.
Dear comrades and friends, ladies and gentlemen, regardless of the unusual conditions, today is a very special day – this applies to you dear comrades, but especially to myself and my predecessor in the office of Grand Master. Almost 6 years ago I started my service in and for the Lazarus Union.
And about 943 days ago – on February 19, 2019 – the then General Plenipotentiary of the Lazarus Union gave me responsibility for the Lazarus Union. The past 2 1/2 years have been particularly eventful and very demanding for all of us. In the year I took over the duties as General Plenipotentiary and Grand Master, the Lazarus Union was unjustifiably the subject of newspaper reports.
No one had seen it coming, no one was prepared for it. At the time, it simply seemed completely absurd to all of us that the reputation of the Lazarus Union could be unjustifiably tarnished.
For many years, the Lazarus Union was focused on charitable activities at home and abroad. And suddenly, the self-portrayal of our organization gained unexpected relevance. And so we analyzed the overall situation and repositioned ourselves.
And yet the Lazarus Union has always been ready for action and I can proudly say that the Lazarus Union has always fully fulfilled the tasks it has set for itself in recent years.
And this despite the fact that in recent months many comrades have been deployed in addition to their other tasks in the context of Corona aid or in flood relief on the Moselle and Ahr.
But all this takes strength, a lot of strength – and I’m fully aware of that.
In the end, it is the comrades who have provided and continue to provide this service. It is the men and women in civilian and in their Lazarus uniforms who have been and are on duty outside or have done outstanding work at their desks.
No matter when and where it has become difficult in the past 2.5 years – and this has been the case more than once – you, dear comrades, the members of our Lazarus Union have always stood ready, reliable and loyal to me and the Lazarus Union. It is also you who, with your deeds and your appearance, make up the good reputation of our Lazarus Union.
My thanks go to you, to all of us. We have achieved many goals together.
We are certainly far from where we want to be.
But please don’t be discouraged on the way there. Because there are many examples that show us that it is worthwhile to pursue the goals together and to turn them into successes.
In order to be prepared for the challenges of tomorrow, we have also adapted our structures within the Lazarus Union. For example, we have introduced equal status for vice-presidents. This requires, among other things, a correspondingly adapted leadership ability.
Dear comrades, dear guests, there is no shortage of vision and ambitious plans in the Lazarus Union. My predecessor in office had coined the phrase “a vision comes true”. We build on this and say “a vision continues”.
So we continue to tackle it, everyone in their own field, goal-oriented, calm and professional.
Dear comrades, in order to be able to act effectively in the future, we need secure finances, because charitable action is often not available for free, but we have to make appropriate expenses.
Only on a reliable financial basis can we plan and carry out projects. And that’s what our webshop is for. Every comrade and every friend of the Lazarus Union should always be aware that the only source of income is the proceeds from the webshop and therefore order something for themselves or others from time to time depending on their own financial circumstances.
The Lazarus Union has shown in the past that we can achieve great success, especially with small, focused teams. In the sense of a common goal, however, we should not lose sight of the result itself. We have to work well together across the board and keep an eye on the common goal. I am thinking in particular of the help with the flood disaster on the Moselle and Ahr.
“Together” is the imperative for the future.
And, dear comrades, we will continue to need people who are willing to work in the future. We need comrades who know the structure of the Lazarus Union and who are highly motivated to serve.
In order to inspire people for the Lazarus Union, we have to convey what makes us special, what makes us unique, what our identity is.
Our homepage with its reports, which admittedly have become a little less in recent times due to corona, is a good example of this.
We will continue on this path and work to ensure that the Lazarus Union is and remains attractive for people in the future. And this also includes the Knighthood of Honour of the Lazarus Union, which represents the highest level of membership. And when we accept comrades here and now into the Knighthood of Honour as Knight Expectant or make appointments as Knights of Honour or promotions within the Knighthood of Honour, we say “thank you” for the work done so far and the time invested in the Lazarus Union.
Personally, I am looking forward to the further time together with you and am confident that you will be there even in difficult times, because the leadership of the Lazarus Union needs your loyalty, your commitment and your professionalism.
Thank you very much!
Closing speech Investiture
Excellencies, dear ladies of honour and knights of honour, comrades, dear attendees
Even the most beautiful event comes to an end and our investiture celebration in 2021 is no exception.
I would therefore like to thank all those present who have made this celebration an unforgettable event.
I would especially like to thank the organizing team Rudolf Murth, Rosemarie Murth-Brich and Helene Kneidinger, who tirelessly organized the programme of this event. Unfortunately, all three are ill and cannot be with us today. But our good wishes should reach them from here.
My very special thanks go to my predecessor and friend Wolfgang Steinhardt, who immediately jumped into the breach when he learned of the sick leave of the three comrades.
This is true chivalry and worth a great applause.
Furthermore, I would like to thank our Bandmaster Fritz Lentner for the wonderful musical accompaniment. He will certainly still have a surprise in store for us today.
In addition, I would like to thank my Deputy and Grand Chancellor Oliver Gruber-Lavin, who also took over the duties of the protocol officer in a chivalrous manner.
Finally, I would like to thank all the helpers in front of and behind the scenes who have contributed to the success of this event through their support.
Without these many helpers and organizers, such an event would not be possible, especially and above all, it could not be organized from my place of residence in Germany.
My thanks also go to all Knight Expectants/Dame Expectants, Knights of Honour and Ladies of Honour. Without your participation, there would be no investiture ceremony.
Finally, I would like to point out that there will be a family photo again after the marching out. So please don’t run away.
The next item on the programme is the Great Tattoo on the square in front of the castle.
So let’s look forward to the other events that this day may bring.
Thank you very much
Speech at the Gala Dinner
Dear comrades, Ladies and Gentlemen!
I am pleased to welcome you again this evening here in the festively decorated hall.
The gala dinner not only concludes a very nice day with investiture and Great Tattoo.
No, with this event we are also celebrating an anniversary that should have taken place last year already, namely the 10th anniversary of the Knighthood of Honour of the Lazarus Union.
Unfortunately, last year the corona virus put a spanner in the work, so that we can already celebrate our 11th anniversary this year.
We are aware that we are not a historical knightly order and do not want to be that. But just like many other chivalrous organizations, we want to be faithful to the old chivalrous ideals of preserving faith, hope, love, mercy, prudence, justice, bravery and moderation.
If we succeed in this to a large extent, we have acted chivalrously, as the noble knights have shown us in history.
Membership in our Knighthood of Honour is the highest and noblest good that a member of the Lazarus Union can achieve and we should always be aware of this.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank my predecessor Wolfgang Steinhardt for establishing this Knighthood of Honour 11 years ago. If it didn’t exist, we would have to build it up.
Now I would like to take a brief recourse to history.
Probably the most famous knight of the early period was King Arthur, who united the individual tribes of Britain. And this king had a round table at his court where the noblest knights of his kingdom came together, the famous Round Table.
And when I look around from up here, I have to say that nothing has changed:
I can recognize many noble knights and friends. But I can also see something else, namely all the lovely Ladies and not just only one wonderful maid.
I therefore ask you to raise the glass with me and drink for the health of the Lazarus Union and all its members and friends throughout the world.
With this in mind, I wish us all a nice evening and thank you for your attention.