Baikal March

On 7th March 2020 the “Great Siberian Ice March” took place. A daring marching group crossed the frozen Lake Baikal in Siberia.

With more than 25 million years of age, Lake Baikal is the oldest and, at 1642 metres, the deepest lake on earth and the most important freshwater reservoir on earth. In terms of area, it is as large as Belgium, with a length of 673 km and a width of 82 km. Temperatures of around minus 40 °C cause the lake to freeze completely for several months. The 2 to 3 metre thick layer of ice not only supports normal road traffic, it is also navigable for heavy battle tanks.

On February 28th 1920, the last returnees of World War I crossed Lake Baikal by foot on their way to freedom. Among them were also many Czechs, who had been taken by the k.u.k. Army to Russia. For the 100th anniversary of this crossing, volunteers were searched who wanted to imitate this march across the lake.

On March 4th at 04:00 o’clock in the morning the plane of the Czech government took off from Prague, which carried 80 expedition members free of charge to Krasnoyarsk in Siberia. 8 hours of time change illustrate the distance travelled. After landing in Krasnoyarsk, the city was visited. During the next night, the Trans-Siberian Railway took the expedition to Tajset in an 8 hour journey.

On March 5, Tajset was visited and a wreath was laid on the site of the former gulag. During the second night in Siberia, the Trans-Siberian Railway covered the distance to Irkutsk in an 11-hour journey. Irkutsk is one of the most beautiful cities in Siberia, the city and some monuments could be visited. The evening of March 6th was spent by the expedition group on the banks of Lake Baikal. Preparations for the march the next day were made.

On March 7th the march across the frozen Lake Baikal started at 0400 o’clock in the morning. As the only Austrian in this memorable expedition the IR84 sent his First Sergeant. Good winter clothing was necessary for the march, the temperatures in Siberia are a little different than in Europe. To be able to cross the mirror-smooth ice spikes had to be mounted on the shoes.

Right at the start there was a storm with up to 120 km/h wind speeds, which made the temperature feel like minus 70°C. The snow came along horizontally, fallen objects disappeared in the darkness of the night even before they had fallen to the ground. However, the march was started, ski goggles protect the eyes from the storm.

After about an hour the storm stopped and the rest of the day was absolutely calm. A magnificent sunrise rewarded the brave marchers. Even in the Siberian ice desert, the sun can shine so strongly that uncovered skin can get sunburnt. The incomparable scenery of the frozen lake and the special nature of this adventure was the greatest reward for all march participants. Around midnight the marchers reached the southern shore of the largest lake on earth and looked forward to a few drinks in the hotel.

The last day of the expedition was spent in Ulan- Ude, also in this town there are some sightseeings.

Back to Prague the government plane of the Czech Republic brought us again in a special flight. In Novosibirsk a stopover was necessary to refuel. After a flight of 10 hours the clocks were set back 2 hours, because we had flown through 8 time zones again. So we arrived 2 hours after our departure at the Mongolian border in Central Europe.

Letter of the president of the UEHMG

Dear comrades,

Due to the development of the situation regarding the spread of the coronavirus and the associated measures by the various governments in Europe, we can only recommend the following points on the part of the UEHMG for the next two months:

  • Not participating in events in other countries
  • No participation in events with international guests
  • Postponement of own events in public
  • No participation in events with more than 100 people
  • Avoid shaking hands – you can also greet them politely in other ways
  • Compliance with hygiene measures – especially in washing hands

I don’t think you need to overreact in panic, but everyone has to do his part to curb the spread of the virus and nobody wants to make the headlines because of a massive contagion at a traditional event.

In the hope that the situation will soon be eased again, I remain with kind regards,
MajorGeneral iTR Michael Blaha, MSc

Expression of condolences about Honorary Major d.Ldw. Karl Zeller

With great dismay and sadness we have the duty to announce that our former deputy commander Honorary Major d.Ldw. Karl Zeller fell asleep peacefully with his family on March 7, 2020 and left us.

The President of the Union of the European Historical Military Groups, Major General iTR Michael Blaha, the Board, the Presidium and all comrades of the UEHMG express their deep sympathy to the bereaved for this serious loss.

The UEHMG will honor and commemorate its deceased comrade with gratitude and memory.

Imperial Ball 2020

“The dozen is full!” – Major General iTR Michael Blaha, MSc, euphorically opened the 12th Kaiserball on February 15, 2020 in the historic city hall in Korneuburg. And the organizers – the k.u.k. Dragoons regiment Nikolaus Graf Pejacsevich No 2 and the k.u.k. Infantry Regiment FM Heinrich Freiherr von Hess No 49 – come up with many small and large attentions.

But one after the other. The evening started with a reception in the town hall Korneuburg at the invitation of Mayor Christian Gepp, MSc, where the evening’s guest of honor Archduke Ferdinand von Habsburg was allowed to register in a historical book and even received the chain of honor of the Mayor for this ceremony. Ferdinand von Habsburg, who is currently completing basic training in Korneuburg, followed this invitation in the basic uniform of the Austrian Armed Forces and thus showed his close relationship to the military and military tradition.

Arrived in the ballroom, the ceremonial entry of the guests of honor and the grand opening immediately continued. To the delight of the numerous guests, a few couples from Korneuburg came forward this year to open the ball – in combination with the historically uniformed dancers a really beautiful and elegant performance.

Member of the National Council Andreas Minnich delivered the words of greeting from Governor Johanna Mikl-Leitner before SKKH Ferdinand von Habsburg took the microphone for the official ball opening. As a special surprise, the chef de cuisine, Christian Sehner, handed over a cake in the shape of an Aston Martin racing car before the archduke took the waltz himself – the competitive athlete also met all expectations in this regard.

As a specialty this year, a wine bar with a smoking lounge could be visited in the inner courtyard of the building. There the high-quality wines of the Maximilian von Habsburg winery were served and the wine bar quickly became an insider tip. But the rest of the culinary delights were also enjoyed and those who did not visit the wine bar found their way to the champagne and long drink bar in the gallery.

During a break of the Lower Austria Military Music Dance Orchestra, Elisabeth Jahrmann and Max Buchleitner delighted the auditorium with lively operetta melodies before moving on to the draw ceremony of the tombola. Of course for the 12th Kaiserball there were also 12 main prizes and the 12 winners were impressed by the high-quality prizes. The new day was started in an atmospheric manner with the traditional imperial anthem, sung by all ball guests to candlelight at midnight. With the rapid quadrille you could work out your midnight goulash and recharge your batteries for the rest of the ball night.

In the early hours of the morning, many guests took the opportunity to stop at the Habsburg wine bar before the 12th Kaiserball ended officially. For all guests and contributors one thing was clear – the 13th Kaiserball is a fixed point in the 2021 ball calendar!

>Ball impressions of the Imperial Ball 2020

Expression of condolences about Major d.Ldw. Helmut Müller

With great dismay and sadness we have the duty to announce that our comrade Major d.Ldw. Helmut Müller fell asleep peacefully with his family on January 13, 2020 and left us.

The President of the Union of the European Historical Military Groups, Major General iTR Michael Blaha, the Board, the Presidium and all comrades of the UEHMG express their deep sympathy to the bereaved for this serious loss.
The UEHMG will honor and commemorate its deceased comrade with gratitude and memory.

By the imperial train with the imperial couple to the imperial city of Bad Ischl

On the occasion of the opening of the Imperial Days for the birthday of SM Emperor Franz Josef I on 18 August, there is a historic special train from Attnang-Puchheim to Bad Ischl.

The arrival in a special train is still an experience and something special. Almost reverently you approach the “Emperor and his Sissi”. The highlight is the arrival in Bad Ischl. There is a cheering crowd, music and an Imperial carriage. The road on the way to the Kurpark is lined with an enthusiastic crowd.

Wreath-laying ceremony in Artstetten

Loyalty and honor – that the 105th anniversary of the death of the last regimental owner of the Dragoon Regiment No. 4 was not forgotten

A delegation of the Confederation of the former Dragoons from Wels, under Kdo Obst TR Manfred Weickinger, laid down solemnly a wreth in memory in the castle Artstetten in Lower Austria (picture) to the sarcophagi of the heir to the throne Franz-Ferdinand and his wife Sophie, who were an assassination victim on June 28, 1914 in Sarajevo.

Article and photo: k.u.k. OG 1867-1918 Wels

Memorial Mass for the Blessed Emperor Karl I in Biedermannsdorf

On the initiative of the Biedermannsdorfer Kapellenverein, the beatification of Emperor Karl I was celebrated on 10.11.2019 as part of a Holy Mass, celebrated by Rev. Dr. Bernhard Mucha and concelebrant Mag. Stanley Zlnay (Chairman of the Emperor Karl Prayer League Slovakia), followed by a wreath-laying ceremony in front of the Emperor Karl chapel.

Among the guests of honor were the Adjutant General of the House of Habsburg-Lorraine Gen.Mjr. i.Tr. Peter Pritz, the knights of the Order of St. George and the military, hospital order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem.

The welcome speeches were given by Mjr. Peter Fuhrich (community doctor and chairman of the Emperor Karl Kapellenverein) and the vice-commander of the Order of St. George Chief.Insp. Heinrich Stickelberger, who was also allowed to send greetings from your KKH Camilla Habsburg-Lorraine.

As a traditional association, the Deutschmeister Schützenkorps was represented by marksman Alfred Cunat. The FF Biedermannsdorf put down the honorary wreath in front of the chapel again.

After the ceremonial event, the Kapellenverein invited all the persons present to an agape and a cozy, comradely get-together.

Award for the UEHMG with “Sub Auspiciis”

During the public ceremony the UEHMG received a special award at the General Rapport in Sopron: the “Sub Auspiciis” seal of the House of Habsburg in the name of SKKH Karl von Habsburg.

The following are the speeches given by President of UEHMG Major General iTR Michael Blaha, MSc, and Baron Vinzenz Stimpfl-Abele:

Speech of Major General iTR Michael Blaha, MSc:

Dear comrades, dear guests,

for us, the general rapport is not only the annual general meeting of the Union of European Military Historical Groups, but also a time to perform together in public.

This year we have chosen Sopron as the location for our general rapport, because geographically it is almost the center of our union. This union with almost 100 clubs in 15 European countries is a network of tradition and camaraderie across time and borders.

As an umbrella organization, it is our job to maintain this network. Mutual information and internal communication is an essential element. But if we come together as in these days, we also want to show our diversity, especially in the historical uniforms. I am therefore particularly pleased that some Hungarian clubs, which are not yet members of us, have found to us today.

We all face great challenges again and again. Not everywhere we find equal recognition for our commitment, sometimes there are also external disturbances. And sometimes we just struggle with financial problems. We raised these issues in our plenary session yesterday.

I am all the more pleased that our work has been honoured by the highest authorities and that today we can welcome Baron Vinzenz Stimpfl-Abele, procurator of the Order of St. George and in the name of His Imperial Highness Karl von Habsburg. He will then address a few words to us.

I look forward to our time together this afternoon on our visit at Esterhazy Castle and later dinner together. Tradition care also means care of camaraderie and today we have really opportunity to do so.

I wish the Union of European Military Historical Groups further on strong cohesion and I will use all my strength for our common values.

Thank you!

Speech of Baron Vinzenz Stimpfl-Abele in the name of SKKH Karl von Habsburg:

It is an honor to be here present at the General Rapport in the name of SKKH Karl von Habsburg and to hand over the seal “Sub Auspiciis” to the umbrella organization of the Union of the European Military Historical Groups.

Therefore, I am personally very happy to be able to make this high distinction, because I feel to the military historical groups from two perspectives especially connected. On the one hand, because I am myself from an old family that has produced many officers and therefore knows how important the personal past, individual memory and remembering is. On the other hand, there is also the big aspect, namely, that you can only understand history if you know it, and only if you understand it, you can learn from it.

Therefore, what the military historical groups do is extremely valuable and important: you keep the story alive by cultivating the tradition. And you do that in a serious, profound way. George Bernhard Shaw is said to have said: “Tradition is a lantern, the stupid clinging to her, the wise shining the way.” In that sense Union of the European  miltary historical groups certainly counts among the wise!

And because of that, I hereby grant you, dear President, the personal seal “Sub Auspiciis” of Archduke Karl. It is awarded for 3 years and can then be extended.

This personal seal of Karl von Habsburg is of course an award for the achievements so far, but also proof of confidence and mission for the future. In this sense: keep it up!

​The UEHMG is proud of these seal and will do everything in its power to live up to this vote of confidence!