The First World War saw the ‘Hoch- und Deutschmeister’ Regiment heavily employed on the Eastern Front against the Russians. The result was enormous losses to the regiment’s rolls. In their very first skirmish on the 27 June 1915, the Regimental Commander, Oberst Freiherr von Holzhausen (below) fell in battle.
On the 7 July 1915, the Russians launched a massive offensive which fell heavily on the sector where the ‘Hoch- und Deutschmeister’ was positioned resulting in the loss of over half of the regiment’s officers and men. This date has since that time been designated as the regimental memorial day.
Following Russia’s withdrawal from the war in 1917 and the subsequent Treaty of Brest-Litovsk in early 1918, the ‘Hoch- und Deutschmeister’ was replenished and sent to the Italian Front where it continued to fight with distinction until the end in November 1918. The end of the conflict also saw the demise of the Hapsburg Empire which collapsed under the weight of the various unsolved ethnic problems that came to a head with its defeat in World War I. In the peace settlement that followed, significant territories were ceded to Romania and Italy, new republics of Austria (the German-Austrian territories of the Hereditary lands) and Hungary (the Magyar core of the old kingdom) were created, and the remainder of the monarchy's territory was shared out among the new states of Poland, Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (later Yugoslavia), and Czechoslovakia. In 1920, the regiment was absorbed into the new Austrian ‘Volkswehr’, where most of imperial traditions were ignored until 1933 when its sky-blue ‘Waffenfarbe’ was reinstated.
In 1938, Austria was absorbed by Germany in the ‘Anschluss’, becoming a region referred to as the ‘Ostmark’. During this time, the Viennese Infanterie Regiment Nr 4 was absorbed into the German Army as Infanterie Regiment 134 of the newly formed 44th Infanterie Division bringing with it its resurrected traditions and history. One of the most important traditions the unit brought into the Wehrmacht and the 44th Infanterie Division was its regimental ‘colours’. Infanterie Regiment 134 was granted the distinction of carrying two different ‘colours’, unlike any other unit in the Wehrmacht. It was also granted the name ‘Hoch- und Deutschmeister’ after the title of the Austrian unit upon which it was based. On special occasions the regiment was allowed to carry the battalion ‘colours’ of the defunct Infanterie Regiment Nr 4 and this occurred both before and during the war. The new division incorporated other well known Austrian regiments & battalions besides the ‘Hoch- und Deutschmeister’- Infanterie Regiment 13 ‘Karl Herzog von Lothringen’, Artillerie Regiments 1, 2 & 3, Kavallerie Regiment 11, Pionier Bataillon 1 and 2, ‘Prinz Eugen von Savoyen’ and ‘Feldmarschall Montecuccoli’.
The 44th Infanterie Division was stationed almost entirely around Vienna; Infanterie Regiment 134 remained the core of the Viennese establishment. The first and second regiments of the Division were stationed in Vienna with the headquarters unit while the third regiment was stationed in Hainburg, a short distance outside of Vienna. In December 1938, the ‘Hoch- und Deutschmeister’ Regiment received its first conscripts from the Viennese population. At this time it was already stationed in barracks in South Moravia following the Sudeten crisis.
Basic training of the units of the 44th Infanterie Division was not fully completed when the call for mobilisation of 14 March 1939 was begun due to the latest Czech crisis. On 15 March 1939 the occupation of the remainder of Czechoslovakia began. The 44th Infanterie Division marched without resistance through Bohemia and Moravia; from Lundenburg, via the Moravian Gate directly to the Hungarian border into the area of Friedek-Mistek.
The division was for a very short time restored to a peacetime status before the call for wartime mobilisation began again on the 24 August 1939. By the 27 August 1939 all the units were assembled again and preparations for the assault on Poland began. Units of the 262nd Infanterie Division were brought up in support of the 44th Infanterie Division.