Lahousen (Edler von) Vivremont, Erwin Heinrich René.

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Lahousen (Edler von) Vivremont, Erwin Heinrich René, born 25-10-1897 in Vienna. Lahousen’s father, Wilhelm Carl, was a Oberst in the Austro-Hungarian Infantry Regiment No. 88 and subsequently promoted to k.u.k. Field Marshal Lieutenant.  The family, which mainly consisted of pastors and councillors, came from Osnabrück and later settled in Verden an der Aller. The coat of arms was awarded to her in 1590 in the Hanseatic city of Osnabrück. One line took up the soldier’s profession, which Erwin Lahousen was also to choose in an uninterrupted sequence in the eighth generation. One of his ancestors, Friedrich Christian von Lahousen, had settled in Linz after taking part in the recapture of Belgrade in 1789 and had also acquired the right to live there. In 1880 the family was ennobled.

After four classes at a lower secondary school, three years at a military high school in Moravia-Weisskirchen and, due to the war, only two years at the Theresian Military Academy in Wiener Neustadt, Lahousen was decommissioned on 18-08-1915 as a lieutenant in the Upper Austrian Infantry Regiment No. 14 in Linz as a result of his home entitlement. His hopes of being assigned to the cavalry were not fulfilled. Despite an immediate request from his father in this regard, he was put off until after the end of the war. Lahousen spent the entire time of the First World War at the front and at the military focal points of events: on 25-05-1916, he was critically wounded by a bullet in the lungs during the storming of Monte Cimone. He only owed his survival to a risky operation by the famous Upper Austrian surgeon Anton Eiselsberg. Nevertheless, he did not wait for his complete recovery, but asked to be reassigned to a combat unit at the front. In August 1917 he was assigned to the southern front. He took part in the 11th Battle of the Isonzo and, as part of it, in the battles at Monte San Gabriele.

On 08-09-1917, Lahousen, who had been promoted to lieutenant on May 1 of the same year, contracted central pneumonia as a result of gas poisoning, the treatment of which with the drugs available at the time  was difficult and lengthy. Nevertheless, he was again used at his own request in 1918 directly in the front area in the section of the 50th Infantry Troops Division. For his services he was awarded the Military Cross of Merit with Swords  and War Decoration, the Karl Troop Cross, the Medal of Merit and the Hessian Medal for Bravery. After the end of the war, he and his division marched back to Vienna from the front, which allowed him to escape Italian captivity. Lahousen’s experiences in World War I meant that he was later a determined opponent of the war and therefore also completely rejected Adolf Hitler‘s war policy from the outset.

After the war, he became a member of Austrian counterintelligence. However, after the Anschluss in 1938, Austria’s intelligence services were absorbed into Germany’s, and Lahousen joined the Abwehr, headed by Admiral Wilhelm Franz Canaris.

Admiral Canaris himself kept a diary, “the purpose of which was to show posterity in their true form those who directed the fate of the German people at the time”. This fragmentary service diary of Lahousen is now in the National Archives in Washington and represents an important source of contemporary history. The daily orders that he received and gave were the content of this diary and the service diaries of the other department heads who were to Lead Canaris had ordered: “Write that down, gentlemen. You will have to answer questions one day.”

On August 25 and 26, 1939, Lahousen was tasked with occupying the Jablunka Pass, a commando operation prior to the invasion of Poland.

During the course of the war, when all protests by members of the Office for Foreign Affairs/Counter Intelligence against the crimes of the German military were ignored, Canaris and Lahousen decided to use the modified plans to end the efforts for an assassination attempt on Hitler, combined with an overthrow of the NS system of the company Walküre to actively support. Canaris advocated Hitler’s arrest, but allowed Lahousen to continue with his assassination preparations.

When Canaris flew to Smolensk on 07-03-1943, accompanied by Lahousen and Hans von Dohnanyi, a German jurist of Hungarian ancestry for a meeting at the headquarters of Army Group Center, Lahousen managed to take a box with English explosives and English silent detonators for an assassination attempt on Hitler. After trials, Oberst Henning von Tresckow and Leutnant Fabian von Schlabrendorff  prepared the explosives in such a way that it resembled a package containing two bottles.

On 13-03-1943, Schlabrendorff handed the package over to the unknowing Oberst Heinz Brandt,

who flew on Hitler’s plane. As is often shown in the specialist literature, the assassination attempt failed for technical reasons. Lahousen’s ability to resist was also coming to an end. As Oberst i. G. he had to complete a six-month probation period before being appointed Generalmajor, which is why he officially had to hand over the management of Department II to Oberst Wessel Freytag von Loringhoven on 01-08-1943. Oberst Heinz Brandt died the next day after surgery in the Wolf’s Lair hospital and was posthumously promoted to Generalmajor by Hitler. Three other people also died as a result of the explosion. It was later concluded that its exact positioning next to a leg of the map table was a crucial factor in determining who in the room survived.

Lahousen then took command of the 96th and later 4th Grenadier Regiments on the Eastern Front and then the 41st Infantry Regiment (L). During the fighting during Operation Bagration, Lahousen’s command post received a direct hit on 19-07-1944, in which he was badly wounded. For this reason, he was transferred to the Führerreserve as unfit for the front, was awarded the Iron Cross First Class and the German Cross in Gold and was promoted to Generalmajor on 01-01-1945 with rank number 1. His membership in the resistance had gone unnoticed by the Gestapo and the SD because he was at the front.

After the end of the war, Major Generalmajor Lahousen was taken prisoner by the US and was interrogated by the British Secret Service from August 23 to December 8, 1946, during which he was also in the hospital.

From 30-11-1945, he testified

  in Nuremberg as part of the trial of the main war criminals as the only key witness for the prosecution. “I have to testify for everyone who murdered them – I am the only survivor [of the senior officers of the Foreign Office/Intelligence Office],” he emphasized – according to his knowledge at the time – to the American prison psychologist Gustave Mark Gilbert, who was looking for him , asked to testify in the trial in Nuremberg and accompanied him there.

Death and burial ground of Lahousen (Edler von) Vivremont, Erwin Heinrich René.


After his release from US captivity on 04-06-1947, Lahousen retired to Seefeld in Tirol. In 1953 he married the widow of the former Austrian State Secretary Theodor Znidaric and moved with her and their three children to Innsbruck, where he died of his third heart attack on 24-02-1955. Generalmajor Erwin Lahousen is buried at the Zentral Cemetery of Vienna in a family grave in Section 20.

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