Heinrich Wieden Edler von Alpenbach

Heinrich Ludwig Victor Peter Wieden was born as the second son of an officer of the Fuhrwerkscorps (precursor of the train-troops) at Prague on the 15th of July 1866. His father Eduard (1823-1907) was something of "Black Sheep" of the family - while all his ancestors and even distant relatives were medical doctors, like his father, or lawyers, he decided upon a military career ultimately attaining the rank of Oberstleutnant and winning nobility with the predicate "Edler von Alpenbach" on the 22nd of April 1876. In 1859 he married Maria Puda (1840-1921), the daughter of a military official, with whom he had 5 children: Eduard (1860-1920) who also followed a military career, Heinrich (1866-1933), Gustav (1870-1905) who was always sickly and died early in the rank of Leutnant "on leave", Karl (1872-1937) who became a veterinary in the service of the Bosnian-Hercegovinian local authorities and a similar rank in the army in the body of the reserves and finally a daughter named Maria Louise Wilhelmine (1879-1918) but called Irma.

Heinrich graduated from the Militär-Oberrealschule at Mährisch-Weißkirchen and the military academy at Wiener Neustadt being assigned as a Leutnant to Feldjäger-Bataillon number 30 on the 1st of September 1888. He volunteered for FJB number 30 because his older brother Eduard was an Oberleutnant there. It is interesting to compare the two brothers, whilst the elder one started as a simple cadet with the troops his younger brother had had the opportunity to attend the two most prestigious officers' preparatory institutes of the monarchy and at last in 1918 the 6 years younger Heinrich held the rank of Feldmarschall-Leutnant while Eduard only achieved the rank of Oberst! But Heinrich was also a military talent. After graduating from the War School at Vienna he was transferred, meanwhile promoted to Oberleutnant on the 1st of November 1892, permanently to the General staff-Corps on the 1st of May 1893. He was first employed as general staff officer of the 56th infantry brigade at Laibach where he received his promotion to Hauptmann 1st class of the general staff corps on the 1st of May 1896 - one notch in seniority higher than Dr. Karl Bardolff! On the 29th of May 1897 Heinrich Wieden Edler von Alpenbach married the 10 years younger Maria Magdalena Rüling Edle von Rüdingen und Rüdennen, called Magda, the daughter of a Hofrat with whom he had a daughter Elisabeth Maria Magda, born at Laibach on the 5th of December 1902. Under the name of "Lilly Proksch" she later became a well known dancing artist and owner of a dancing school in the years between the wars. On the 1st of September 1897 he was assigned to the military academy at Wiener Neustadt as an instructor - together with Geza von Lukachich with whom he became friends - here the (German) Austrian from an old Styrian family and there the Hungarian of an old Croatian family which had moved to Hungary in the 16th century. Following their tours of duty as instructors both continued their careers with the Austrian and Hungarian Landwehr respectively. On the 16th of August 1901 Heinrich Wieden Edler von Alpenbach was transferred to troop duty with the newly formed Landwehr infantry regiment number 27 at Laibach. For his distinguished period as an instructor he was honored with a commendation of the war ministry of the same date.

With the additional promotion to Major in the general staff corps he was assigned as chief of the general staff of the 45th Landwehr infantry division at Przemysl on the 1st of May 1904. But his great talent as an instructor could not long be ignored and on the 1st of October 1905 he received the appointment as an instructor for the senior officer course (Stabsoffizierskurs) of the k.k. Landwehr. On the 1st of May 1908 he was promoted to Oberstleutnant in the general staff corps (seniority number 4) with the additional appointment as commander of the Informationskurs for Hauptleute und Rittmeister des k.k. Truppendienstes. For his excellent performance as an instructor with the k.k. Landwehr he was honored with the award of the Military Merit Cross on the 16th of March 1910. As was normal practice he was transferred to troop duty with Landwehr infantry regiment number 37 at Gravosa and Castelnuova. With this regiment he received his promotion to Oberst on the 1st of May 1911 with seniority of the 4th of July of the same year with the additional transfer from the body of the general staff corps into the body of the k.k. Landwehr troops. However as no post for an officer of his rank was immediately available he became chief of the general staff of the 16th corps from 4th of August 1911 to the 18th of March 1912 before he was attached to the k.k. Landwehr ministry. On the 19th of August 1912 Heinrich Wieden Edler von Alpenbach took over command of the k.k. Franz Joseph Miliär-Akademie - the military academy of the k.k. Landwehr - and the k.k. Militär-Oberrealschule at Vienna. He had of course influenced officer's development within the k.k. Landwehr during the previous years but this last appointment made him the most authoritative instructor in the k.k. Landwehr. For his successful performance he was honored with the award of the 3rd class of the Order of the Iron Crown on the 17th June of 1914.

In October 1914 Oberst Heinrich Wieden Edler von Alpenbach took over command of the 15th Mountain Brigade. The brigade saw action in Serbia initially on the River Drina and then on the Kolubara and and the Ljig from the 16th to the 28th of November 1914. On the 1st of March 1915 he was promoted to Generalmajor followed by the award of the Knight's Cross of the Order of Leopold with War Decoration on the 20th of April 1915 and the award of the Military Merit Cross 3rd class with war decoration on the 2nd of March 1916 - for both decorations he later received the swords retroactively. Von Wieden's brigade had been transferred to the Isonzo theatre in May 1915 following the outbreak of hostilities with Italy where it saw heavy defensive fighting in the Tolmein sector throughout the summer. Generalmajor von Wieden continued to command the brigade throughout the third and fourth battles of the Isonzo in the autumn and winter of 1915 and the following spring. Von Wieden was assigned to the Russian front in July 1916 where in the aftermath of the Brussilow offense he took over the 26th Landwehr infantry division from Feldmarschalleutnant Emil Lischka. Commanding this division on the rivers Stochod, Styr and at Kowel and then in Volhynia until March 1917 he was awarded the 2nd class of the Order of the Iron Crown with War Decoration and Swords on the 15th of January 1917. Relinquishing command of the 26th Schützen-Division on the 8th of March 1917, he returned to the southwestern front where he briefly commanded the so-called Gruppe Etschtal from March until May 1917 until he assumed command of the 3rd infantry division on the 10th of July 1917. By Imperial decree, the 3rd Infantry Division had been granted the name Edelweiß-Division in May 1917.  He held this command until the end of the war. The division took part in the Caporetto offensive, advancing from the Carnic Alps to the river Tagliamento. It remained in the Piave sector until transferred to the rear area in February and then to Army Group Conrad in May 1918. Feldmarschalleutnant von Wieden spent the remainder of the war in the Seven Communities and Monte Grappa sector. On the 1st of March 1918 he received his promotion to Feldmarschall-Leutnant shortly followed by the award of the Military Merit Cross 2nd class with war decoration and swords. From the allied Germans he was honored with the award of the Iron Cross 2nd and 1st class and the commander's crosses with breast stars of the Bavarian Order of Military Merit with swords and the Prussian Order of the Crown!

After the war Feldmarschall-Leutnant Heinrich Wieden Edler von Alpenbach retired to Vienna. After the death of his mother and his older brother and not least the divorce of his daughter there was no further reason to remain in Vienna and he moved to the city of his father's family, Graz where he died on the 15th of November 1933.

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