Emil Fey

Emil Fey in the uniform of the post war Austrian HeimwehrEmil Fey was born on the 23rd of March 1886 in Vienna. After finishing the Realschule he completed his volunteer-year with the 1st regiment of Tyrolean Kaiserjäger in 1904 and became a reserve officer candidate. He was promoted to Leutnant in der Reserve in 1906. When he realized that his studies had not gone so well he decided to become a professional officer and became a Leutnant in the Train-Regiment number 1 on the 1st of November 1908. After completing the course at  the Militär Reit- und Fahrlehrerinstitut he was transferred to the 16th train division on the16th of November 1912. In this unit he attained the rank of Oberleutnant on the 1st of November 1913. At the outbreak of the war he was still serving in this support unit, receiving a certificate of appreciation from the 6th army commander in October 1914 and the bronze military merit medal with war decoration (Signum Laudis) in early summer 1915. However this was not the kind of action this young officer wanted to see. After several applications he was transferred to the fourth battalion of the Viennese infantry regiment number 4 in March 1915 becoming the 14th company's commander shortly followed by his promotion to Hauptmann on the 1st of November 1915. As commander of a company he now had all the action he desired on the Isonzo front. As part of Generalmajor Guido Novak's 1st mountain brigade IV./IR.4 was deployed at the Plava bridgehead just Northwest of Görz (Gorizia) during the 3rd battle of the Isonzo. He earned the military merit cross with war decoration and swords (December 1915) and his performance as commander of the 14th company in the autumn of 1915 (near Zagora in September 1915) and spring 1916 (break-through near San Osvaldo in March 1916) lead directly to the award of the knights' cross of the Military Maria Theresian Order in December 1922 (Kaiserin Zita refused to his ennobling to "Freiherr von" in 1924, but her son Otto did, after he was over 21 years old, this on the15th of October 1935) During the following years Hauptmann Emil Fey was honored with the award of the Orden der Eiseren Krone 3.Klasse mit Kriegsdekoration und Schwertern (3rd class of the order of the Iron Crown with war decoration and swords), the silver military merit medal (Signum Laudis), the bar for an additional award of the military merit cross, the Wound medal with 4 stripes and the bravery medal for officers in Silver and Gold in 1918.  Besides Linienschiffsleutnant Gottfried Freiherr von Banfield he was the only officer of the army who was awarded the knights' cross of the MMThO and both bravery medals for officers! In early 1918 Fey assumed command of the1st battalion of infantry regiment 104. 

After the war he remained with the Volkswehr until the 13th of February 1919, fought in the battles against the Yugoslavian Army in Carinthia and was promoted to Major on the 26th of November 1922. In 1923 he left the army and became vice-president of the officers' society and co-founder of the "Deutschmeister-Heimwehr". As a well known and highly decorated "Frontkämpfer" or front fighter he became an important person in the conservative-monarchist-clerical camp. When he was able to unite under his command in December 1931 the various uniformed organizations in Vienna into the "Wiener Heimwehr"  he entered into direct rivalry with the Heimwehr commander Rüdiger Fürst Starhemberg. On the 17th of October 1932 he was appointed Staatssekretär für Sicherheitswesen (state secretary for security matters) by Chancellor Dr. Dollfuß followed by the promotion to Minister in the same department on the 10th of May 1933. In this position he enforced the formation of the Austrian Schutzkorps - this uniformed paramilitary organisation was to unite all conservative and forces of the political right which resulted in Fürst Starhemberg being relieved of power and the government had a new powerful instrument to fight against the communists, socialists and (later) the national-socialist groups and parties. On the 21st of September 1933 Emil Fey became Vice-Chancellor in the last administration of Dr. Dollfuß and was the mastermind behind the bloody suppression of the socialist putsch in February 1934. After Dr. Engelbert Dollfuß was killed by the national-socialists during their putsch on the 25th of July 1934 he started to lose influence. Between the 30th of July 1934 and 17th October 1935 he was minister of the interior in the administration of Dr. Schuschnigg but the rumours that he had been informed by the nazi insurgents about their plans to kill Dr. Dollfuß did not stop and so he was retired. On the 20th of November 1935 he also lost the command of the Wiener Heimwehr and after the disbandment of all political and paramilitary organizations on the 10th of October 1936 only his rank in the Austrian Schutzkorps remained. From November 1935 until his death in 1938 he was vice-president of the Austrian Industriellenvereinigung and president of the Donau-Dampfschifffahrtsgesellschaft. His death on the 16th of March 1938, shortly after the German national-socialists assumed power in Austria was reported as suicide. This is debatable as Fey's body had more than one severe wound and his wife, his son and his cleaning-woman were also shot too - apparently by the national-socialists.

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