The Austrian Imperial-Royal Army (Kaiserliche-Königliche Heer) 1805 – 1809:
The Austrian Landwehr in 1809
Regular Infantry Ordered by Recruitment District
"... eine bloss zur Vertheidigung des Vaterländischen
K.K. Patent of June 8, 1808
The farsighted and innovative Austrian Archduke Charles developed the idea of a territorial reserve, whose basic concept intended a kind of militia system with purely defensive character. Were to be considered 3 essential motives in order to this provision:
On June 9th, 1808 an Imperial Patent for the people did the organizing of the Landwehr institute. The Emperor Franz said in it:
“We have opened, in our Patent, Our beloved matter with the intention of an institution connected to the reserve establishment, namely for the defence of the Monarchy with such means which grant the possibility to Us to facilitate the finances of the State by decreasing those of the active Army.
In just this intention We think for good to organize a territorial Force (Landwehr) aimed only on the defence of the Fatherland.... For its execution We have appointed authorized persons, already known for their proficiency, their zeal and their devotion to Us and to the government, namely for Styria, Carinthia, Krain, Trieste and Salzburg: our esteemed Brother Imperial Highness Archduke John; our Court Commissioner Count Saurau: for Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia... ”.
Archduke John did come on June 22, 1808, at Salzburg with Count Franz von Saurau in order to start the organizatione of the Landwehr. At the time they had to raise 4 battalions, the Staff Officers of which could have been retired military officers of the former Bishopric or Electoral Principate (of Salzburg), who had decided to be a volunteer in the new project. Only 4 officers and 1 Corporal for each Landwehr company had to come from the K.K. regular Army.
After this first examples, since 1808, in the German Hereditary lands (Germany, Outer and Inner Austria, Bohemia, Moravia, Silesia, Tirol), they raised this Militia, organized with men fit to combat in each imperial province. I t was estimated that Austria would raise 180000 Landwehr and Hungary 50000, but such numbers were never attained; the Hungarian Diet refused to sanction it, and it was thought dangerous to raise it in Galicia, whose Poles were believed disaffected. In Bohemia, this force, (how it will be stated by Hofkriegsrat Notification of June 13, 1811), had to be of about 50000 men.
Landwehr based its organisation upon the new concept of Reserve duty or Service which could lead towards a true national army, rather than towards another kind of Militia. It stated that:
But who could enlist with the Landwehr?
The service in the Landwehr was allowed to:
The Landwehr soldiers’ service was compulsory for all men aged between 18 and 45, unless they belonged to exempt categories or were army reservists. Initially they had to train themselves on every Sunday and holiday, while monthly they were gathered in larger units, coming from the nearby villages, and sent to the battalion manoeuvres, which did not have to last more than three hours. Later this system was changed and they had to instruct themselves with the weapons in short periods of 14 days, under the military Rule (generally half of the total force trained itself in Spring, the others in Autumn, or in periods stated by the territorial regiment command). When employed in these training camps, the militians were supplied by the provinces. The trainings periods was recorded by the Districts-Commissariate (which maintained the Landwehr’s lists) and signed in the personal Folios (Karten). These were managed directly by the Kreis-Hauptmanns or the Bataillons-Commandanten. In the case of a War call-to-arms the Landwehr men had to:
The Landwehr generally wore a grey jacket (Rock) with red facings (later various colours), had a cartridge-box (Patronentasche) with 36 cartridges, bayonet, and hats (every land battalions could have personal hats). Every battalion had also to form a special section of snipers (Scharf-schützen) generally armed with the best rifles and with the Jägerstutzen (see also Feldjäger battalions and Tirol’s Schützen).
The Model in the figure is a Waadtland Swiss type, used in all lands of Alps, for hunting. This weapon allowed a secure fire result up to 300 paces, while the common infantry muskets cannot go over a 100 paces. Landwehr firearms depended upon availability; muskets of 1754, 1774 or 1784 pattern were used, with hunting rifles, cavalry carbines, even Crespi breech loaders and air rifles among the Jägers.
In practice, shortage of equipment resulted in wide variations. Though officers and NCOs usually wore regulation dress, other ranks were permitted different uniform providing all members of a company were dressed alike. In 1808 civilian dress was adapted (sometimes simply by adding a cockade to the hat!), the only issue items being the coat and the leather equipment.
The Landwehr was proportioned to the width of the Circle (Kreis) in which it could be raised one or more battalions. Each battalion (800 men) had 4 companies; each company (200 men) had 4 platoons (Züge); each platoon (50 men) had 2 Squads or Korporalschäften of 25 men each.[ii] The companies were led by an Hauptmann and 3 other officers.
In each province the Landwehr was split in two parts (Abtheilungen), the first formed by the best fit men, the second by the less fit to comBns. In this second section of that new regional armies it could be found what more resembled to the old Landmiliz or to the Town-Guards (Bürgereinheiten). It was the first draft of the nineteenth-century K.K. Landwehr (national army), in competition with the K.u.K. (gemeinsame) Heer (imperial army), while the second military choices went to form what in the future will be the K.K. Landsturm.
Therefore, in this second Corps, were also the men aged from 45 till 50 years, the family fathers (Hausväter) and all who owned a firearm (till the age of 50 years); provided, all the above mentioned, they were not completely fit for the Landwehr duty. This early prototype of Landsturm had the task to provide to the order and discipline of the inner land, to defend the inner ways of communications and villages, to garrison the fortresses and towns, to escort prisoners and other military services. The 2nd Class Landwehr had less difficult duties, often ordered directly by provinces. These civil governments provided also to the soldiers uniforms and equipments. During war-time these forces were led by former Officers in retirement, recalled on duty.
The Supreme Patent Act (Allerhöchstes Patent) of June 9, 1808, stated also that the towns, villages, in which was no military unit (regular or Landwehr) had to form (with armed citizens), during wartimes, Security patrols (Sichereitswachen) and had to give men for transports duties to the army.
After the defeat of 1809 Napoleon demanded the deactivation of the Landwehr; but registers were kept, and in 1811 it was decreed that when re-formed, they would form the fourth battalions of each Line regiment.
Lantveři National Army of Bohemia 1809
In Bohemia on October 31, 1808, the local Parliament (Landtag) convened in the Prague Castle, granted the sum of 1.509.000 fl. to cover the expense for the Landwehr equipments.
The Bohemian Landwehr wore “Hungarian” type uniforms of a brown “Spencer”-style jacket with red facings and braid, a round hat with black and yellow pompon, Hungarian breeches, high boots and black equipment. Otherwise those uniforms, perhaps, were those of the 1800 Archduke Charles volunteers. See after for some detail.
Other sources quoted the Prague Student Corps wore similar dress plus a bicorn with a red-tipped white feather. The Prague city Landwehr had long, singlebreasted brown coats with green collar, cuffs and piping; white breeches, black (white ?) gaiters and equipment, and a shako with brass badge and black and yellow pompon. [iii]
Two Words upon Uniforms
In the Web and in the interesting site www.primaplana.cz has appeared a notable historical article of Karel Sáček and Karl Bag, which tries to make light on the type of military uniform worn by the Bohemian Landwehr in 1809. The article has, unfortunately, the defect to be written in Czech language, not comprehensible to all. I tried to make here a summary of what was written there.
A man dressed in a knee-long coat and Corsican hat on his head is probably the first image that will strike you, speaking about the Landwehr, years 1808-1810. Right a man so dressed was immortalized by painter Johann Peter Krafft in 1813 in his famous “Farewell of the Territorial” (in Czech: zeměbrance from země = Land and branec = recruit) painting, which became a symbol of the modern Austrian patriotism (the image is not provided for copyright rights). The subject, in effects, is wearing the same uniform as the Landwehr men on the front page of another quoted publication on the matter: the book “Landwehr Anno Neun”.
However these uniforms applied to the Landwehr battalions formed in Vienna, Lower Austria and other neighborhoods. Their numerous options are set as in the synthesis of the book “Das Heer unter dem Doppeladler”, where, in addition, authors even wrote a warning label: “In fact, Landwehr uniforms were very dissimilar in different regions." [iv]
How, then, looked the Landwehr from the Czech lands? The absence of detailed description of their uniforms (or yet to be discovered), forces to refer briefly to the regulation in force in Lower and Upper Austria,
“The service coat must be such that a man could wear it in winter over the other clothes in the summer only over a shirt. It should have two pockets. The Landwehr long coat extends up to the knees, so that the trousers colour may not be uniform. The man receives his own rounded hat (Runden-Hut), in which front is attached a brass plaque, where one can read to the provincial and district number of the battalion. The Landwehr training team should walk with their own clothes as jackets, but together homogeneous for weaponry. This weaponry belongs to a little bag (Sack) for 36 rounds, which is worn on a black lacquered wide strap, two and a quarter inches over the right shoulder strap of the bayonet, as for the infantry. Men wear the bags over the right shoulder.
The men were armed by the Central Government with rifles and bayonets, which had weapons for every local security group, watched in a safe place. For the officer corps, however, and also for men was issued a special “Landwehr uniform”, adapted to the national costumes of each Crown’s region, usually not homogeneously prescribed. This uniform consisted, by the main part, of a long overcoat, in different colours, with a single series of white buttons, with a rigid hat having a brim bent up on one side and a brass plate on which were embossed the letters LW (Land Wehr), then region and number of the battalion.
Each man was to be provided with one cartridge bag for 36-40 rounds, sack for bread and the suspension strap (belt) for a bayonet. Equipment and military clothing were provided by the Regional Administration.”
In relation to the Moravia-Silesia Landwehr battalions, however, this booklet provided only:
“They were wearing a gray coat with blue facings.” [v]
Otakar Frankenberger, with reference to primary sources collected in Prague, limited himself to stating that “Landwehr of Czech lands wore a gray coat, blue epaulettes, trilby hat with rosette-shaped pins and brush.” At the same time he added that: “There was a proposal under which each Region should have a different colour of the facings. The buttons should be for Czech (white) and for Moravian Landwehr (yellow)”. [vi]
According to other sources, Moravia decided that: “the uniform had to be a gray coat with red facings and a round hat with a brass plate ... at least every battalion had to have the same wearing.” [vii]
According to Dave Hollins’ Czech, Moravian and Silesian simulated uniforms of Landwehr battalions and Lower Austrian peasant hats, their facings was to be officially light blue, but many units used to copy the same colour as the ordinary infantry regiment linked to the District (so the Saaz Landwehr battalion loaded Orange “County” facings as did the Erbach Infantry Regiment No. 42). In Moravia, probably, they wore more Landwehr black “peasant hats”, because of the large presence of farmers. [viii]
Excerpts for Landwehr equipments were recorded in eastern Bohemia: “The train group attended the exercises in their own clothes, but each one should have had a strange high hat with brass letters and badges and the same cartridge sacks, all were available in Prague: a badge for 21 kr., an hat for 2 zl. 24 kr.” [ix]
Another, although very bizarre, source describing the equipment is a Landwehr mocking song, that was sang by regular army soldiers of Frelich Infantry Regiment No. 28:
“Lantveři (Landwehr) with linen trousers, back too much “tanestry” / rifles are old, “pagnety” red, on their heads pig wool hats. /Those are the words, by honour, run Brethren, Jesus Maria!” [x]
So far written sources. More attention must be paid to iconographic sources. Among them it occupies a privileged position a series of 13 Landwehr images of the Imperial Countries, which Josef Eder issued at Vienna in 1810. [xi]
Three of those images relate to the Bohemian lands. As for the “Czech Landwehr of the Royal Capital city of Prague” it must be told that this may not be the right guide for recreating the appearance and the idea of Landwehr uniforms in the Czech lands. The intention was to distinguish that units as much as possible, as in the case of the Student Volunteer battalion, which had to be different from the Archduke Charles Legion of 1800 – The red epaulet on the officer's right shoulder is probably a symbolic reference for continuing that tradition.
In Moravian and Silesian Duchy Landwehr, the gold metal letters in the hats look different than the above-illustrated Prague Landwehr - in this case, it can be also clearly recognized the letter "M" referring probably to the Moravian territory.
They have classical Landwehr coats and equipment. However the hat is decorated with letters LW. Why? Rigid hats, round hats, etc ... these features suggest only that the so-called typical Corsican hat did not predominate on Bohemian territory. This is confirmed by other contemporary illustrations of Czech Landwehr, camped, on June 23, 1809 at Dresden. [xii] This iconographic source derived from a collection published by Peter Hofschrörer and Dave Hollins and shows seven captured soldiers with the cylinder-shaped hat having bents reversed on both sides.
The Bohemian hat of the “Dresden camp” is similar to that immortalized by Eder in 1810 for Moravians. This is the same type, that was widespread among Czech Archduke Charles Legion volunteers already since 1800. [xiii] The cylindrical hat with a bent brim, then, was probably the most typical element for the Czech Landwehr in 1809 and distinguished them from other countries. This just let's add that officers who were assigned to the Landwehr from the army, have the right to retain their original former uniform.
General Count Kinsky, in whose brigade were included three Landwehr battalions of the Loket region and two from Saaz and Rakovnik, indicated the actual state of the Landwehr’s equipment in a report to the FML Sommariva (early May 1809): “The bad state of uniforms and lack of shoes is the cause of many diseases among the units. The 2nd Königgrätz Battalion had to be again completely withdrawn, due to bad arming, from the South Bohemian border and replaced by the 4th Chrudim battalion.” [xiv]
This may suggest that the Landwehr, like in a common volunteer battalion, should have to be equipped with different uniforms, based on the regular infantry-style. Maybe this manifestation was captured by Josef Eder and was confirmed by several other sources.
The third image “Moravian Landwehr (?) A volunteer corps” illustrated a “Moravian Landwehr” with a typical Jäger clothing - here the author obviously made a mistake in the description. In 1809 in Moravia no volunteer Jäger formation emerged, which could be incorporated into the Feldjäger corps; those uniforms are likely to be perhaps accredited to the Prague volunteers (Watterich) battalion, or to the Feldjäger or to the the Lobkovitz Kinsky formation.
In order to end this short trip among the Czech Landwehr uniforms ther is a rather “hot and picquant” note related to the Legion troops of Archduke Charles, left by FML Klenau in his report dated March 24, 1809:
“The Landwehr men serving in the legion, as well as the new recruited ones, do not wear underwear (kleinen Montur) under the coat. Therefore I consider it necessary to allocate shirts and underwear (Gati) to the men, in order, at least, to partially hide their nudities. This deficiency results from poverty and from the fact that the majority, when Legion was rallied, took with him only one shirt, which is by now completely worn”. [xv]
Joking with Landwehr in 1809 [xvi]
War preparations continued in Prague so zealously that, on October 31, 1808, Czech Lords resolved to give the State Council cash of 1.509.000 zl. for the newly established army, the Landwehr, and, in addition, to provide a further 4.000.000 zl. contribution to be spending by the war fund.
Over the winter, certain of the pending war, all became tense and eager to setting up the Land’s defense, Landwehr, which were quickly dressed in uniform and trained to the field service of war.
The hurry and the rush of training territorials inspired confidence in the regular troops, by their supposed military superiority, and they became jealous, so they laughted at their old land-soldiers upon the meaning of the letters LW (which meant Land Wehr), saying the letters meant “Lauf weg !“, in German “Run away !” and questioned about their fitness and the various antics uttered by this new army. Also even there were composed skittish songs about Territorials. So sang soldiers of the regiment Vogelsang in Prague:
“Not far from Vienna in a village small and fine - Flagbearer Landwehry at the waist carrying a swine .....”
And perhaps they would have even more teased Territorials, when an abrupt spring called to arms people from Prague up to the field, against Napoleon. Therefore, on May 1st, 1809, after the Territorials, volunteers and students got the 1800 flags and went from Prague to the Klattau region, occupying the Bohemian border. That year the month of May was, in Bohemia, same as “Month of War”, so that even during the feast of St.John Nepomucene in Prague, instead of wandering devout pilgrims, walked brilliant fellows singing war songs and ballads against the detested Napoleon, pro the celebrated Archduke Charles and laughing at the Territorials ... For the security and the safety of Prague had been discarded the palisades and the city was fortified with trenches with embankments around, where several thousand people worked for a day pay of 30 kr.
THE LANDWEHR INFANTRY
Ordered by Recruitment District
Bohemia commanders Archduke Ferdinand and BurgCount FZM Wallis
BERAUNER Kreis – Beraun
BIDZOWER (Bydzower) Kreis - Bydzow
BUDWEISER Kreis – Budweis (České Budějovice)
I Bn. Budweis - Major Count Carl Wratislaw
II Bn. Wittingau - Major Leonhard Halpert.
III Bn. Krumau - Major Anton von Künstlern after Major Alois von Reisinger
BUNZLAUER Kreis (Jung-Bunzlau)
VI Bn. Melnitz - Major-Oberstleutnant Prince Anton Isidor Lobkowitz.
ČASLAUER Kreis – Časlau
I Bn. Deutsch Brod (Havlíčkův Brod) - Oberstleutnant Wenzel Sporck then Major Plauser
II Bn. Časlau - Major Plauser , later from Aspern to Wagram: Major Prince Wilhelm Auersperg
III Bn. Kuttenberg (Kutná Hora) - Major Count Sebastian Trautmannsdorf.
CHRUDIMER Kreis – Chrudim
I Bn. Leitomischl (Litomyšl) - Oberst Count Georg Waldstein later Major Count Anton Borosini von Hohenstern
II Bn. Landscron (Lanškroun) - Major Carl Strauss
III Bn. Pardubitz (Pardubice) - Major Count Johann Breda
IV. Bns. Hermann-Mestetz (Hermanuv Mestec) - Major Christian von Geisztler
ELBOGENER Kreis – Elbogen (Loket)
I Bn. Eger (Cheb) - Major Carl Frasmüller Edler von Weidenburg later Hauptmann Johann Werbeck, finally Major Sérenyi
II Bn. Schlackenwerth - Major Peter von Pfisterer
- Facts: in the Bayreuth campaign
III Bn. Buchau - Major Fortunatus Erdelly
KLATTAUER Kreis – Klattau (Klatovy)
I Bn. Bischofsteinitz - Major Baron Wenzel Kotz von Dobrz
II Bn. Klattau - Major Count Anton Thun
III Bn. Nepomuk - Major Count Friedrich Schönborn
KÖNIGGRÄTZER Kreis – Königgrätz (Hradec Králové)
LEITMERITZER Kreis – Leitmeritz (Litoměřice)
PILSENER Kreis - Pilsen
I Bn. Pisek - Major Count Carl Berchtold
II Bn. Brzeznitz - Oberst Hartmann von Hartenthal later Major Count Prokop Hartmann von Klarstein
III Bn. Schüttenhofen - Major Count Leonhard Rumerskirch
IV. Bns. Welschbirken - Oberst Wenzel chevalier von Puteani, then Major Prokop Neukirchen
- Facts: before Aspern was part of the brig. Richter, IV Corps. At Wagram was in the outposts of the Böhmerwald
PRAGUE city District
1st Bn.in the brig. and Div. Franz Kinsky in Prag under Riesch and Loudon.
I Bn. - Oberst Count Johann Wratislaw
- Facts: was at Prague and in Bohemia till Wagram, then was split in parts.
II Bn. – Major Count Johann Pachta
Combined Landwehr battalion of Prague- Oberst Count Johann Wratislaw
I Bn. Welwarn - Major Prince Ferdinand Kinsky, then, interim, Hauptmann Ambros Hubel, later Major Joseph Kurz
II Bn. Rakonitz - Major Joseph Hofmann later Major Baron Bohusz.
I Bn. Komotau - Oberstleutnant Prince Joseph Lobkowitz
II Bn. Saaz - Major Baron Anton Wodniansky
I Bn. Pilgram - Major Joseph Kriegern von Maisdorf
II Bn. Tabor - Major Count Joachim Woracsiesky later Major-Oberstleutnant Baron Vinzenz Zesner
Alphabetic Index of the Landwehr Battalions Commanders - 1808-1810 - Bohemia
Maj.-Obstl. = Major-Oberstleutnant --- města Prahy = City of Prague
[i] Capitulanten: former soldiers who did voluntarily extend their duty period (weiterdienen).
[ii] Franz Kurz, Geschichte der Landwehre in Oesterreich ob der Enns, Band I – II, Verlag Haslinger, 1811.
[iii] Haythornthwaite Philip, Fosten Bryan, Austrian Army of the Napoleonic Wars (I): Infantry, Osprey Publishing Men at Arms Series # 176.
[iv] Allmayer-Beck Johann Christoph - Lessing, Erich. “Das Heer unter dem Doppeladler. Habsburgs Armeen 1718-1848“, Wien, 1981. p. 215
[v] From Zehetbauer, Ernst, „Landwehr gegen Napoleon. Österreichs erste Miliz und der Nationalkrieg von 1809“, Vienna 1999 and from „History ck zeměbraneckého Kromeriz Infantry Regiment No. 25“ (edited by Karel Langer), Kroměříž, 1909.
[vi]Frankenberger, Otakar, „Landwehr of Czech lands in 1809“. In: Historie a vojenství, n. 2/1969, s. 227.
[vii] Radimský, Jiří, “Contributions to the history of military reform in the year 1808” In: Časopis Vlasteneckého spolku musejního v Olomouci, roč. (Journal of the Homeland Association of Olomouc Museum), Vol. 57, 1948, No. 209 and 210, p. 51.
[viii] Hollins Dave - Younghusband Bill. “Austrian Auxiliary Troops 1792-1816”, Osprey Publishing, Men-at-Arms, 1996 (reprint 2002), s. 34. Although the central processing of English history should be approached very critically and with great caution, it was not the case of Hollins’ “Ospreys”. His knowledge, also under relative absence of appropriate references to sources, currently is specialized in military uniforms and it is well known the author is a reference guide for several military historians about life and culture of the Austrian Empire. Only in the case of attribution of facings with the same color as their territorially competent ordinary infantry regiments, just the lacking of the source can raise doubts that Hollins made a mistake in the description of the state of 1813.
The kind courtesy of David McCracken gave us this important information: The reference to the Saaz Landwehr is specifically mentioned in the catalogue to the 1909 Exhibition "Katalog der Erzherzog Carl-Ausstellung zur Jahrhundertfeier der Schlacht bei Aspern" 1909 Wien Holzhausen. An anonymous painting in the Albertina shows the Lower Austrian Landwehr in various facing colours, together with a Moravian Freiwillige NCO (copied in Osprey MAA 299). Ian Castle and I found it in a box marked "Uniformen" (which mostly contained drawings and paintings by Klein) in the Austrian National Library in 1992, where it was being stored while the Albertina was being refurbished. I have been unable to locate it again on subsequent trips
[ix]Zástěra Karel, “Acts and attractions, cultural and other images from the Bohemian East.” Skutč, 1896, s. Works, 1896, p. 223. 223. Referring to the above provisions for the Austrian battalions is wrong to assume that Landwehr were not uniformed. They had only to issue uniform coats only during fire exercises.
[x]Tanestry = tornistry, pagnety = bayonets. Řezníček, Vácslav. Naše zlatá matička, Díl II. “Our golden nut”, Storm, Prague, 1923, p. 140.
[xi] Source: Austrian Landwehr in 1809: the Uniform Plates of Joseph Eder. Also in the Napoleon Series (Copyright by Markus Stein).
[xii] In Saxony came the X Corps of Am Ende (June 1809) which included six battalions of Bohemian Landwehr: 2, 3, 4, 5 Leitmeritz, the 6th of Hradec Kralove and the 6th of Boleslav. Coincidentally, in the city historical museum of Leipzig there is an Austrian Landwehr hat of 1809 - the classic Corsican type.
Hollins – Younghusband, “Austrian Auxiliary Troops”, p. 39. It is very interesting also the similar representation of the Czech Landwehr of 1813, which comes from the Lipperheide Berlin gallery. Soldier has his “blanket” on head, which Hollins describes as “Corsican hat”.
[xiii]Similar headgears between Bohemian Landwehr 1809 and Czech volunteers of 1800 became the cause of several mistakes. The first was committed by Gilbert Anger,”Illustrirte Geschichte der kk Armee”, II. Band, Vienna, 1887, p. 1772 - 1178, whenunder the image of a 1800 volunteer he placed the label “Czech Landwehr”, while the following text clearly shows that it was 1809 Landwehr. The same mistake repeated Haythornthwaite Philip - Fosten Bryan, “Austrian Army of the Napoleonic Wars (I): Infantry”, Osprey Publishing, Men-at-Arms, 1986, s. 31 which were apparently inspired by Anger.
[xiv] Zehetbauer, „Landwehr gegen Napoleon“, p. 269, 293 (see above).
[xv] Zehetbauer, „Landwehr gegen Napoleon“, p. 238, 245.
[xvi] Řezníček Vácslav, “Naše zlatá matička”, Díl II. Bouřky, kapitola Stíny. Praha, 1923
Placed on the Napoleon Series: June 2010; updated January 2013
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