Erich von Smallhausen is a short, plump individual, who habitually wears spectacles. He was born to a military family in the service of Schaumberg-Lippe. As were his brothers, he was destined for a military career, but his marked short-sightedness proved him ineligible for service - without his glasses he can not make out a face from more than a few yards distance.
Unable to participate in the 'healthy' pursuits of boyhood, he took refuge in his father's library, where he discovered the pleasures of the classics. With the aid of a dictionary and basic grammar book he taught himself first Latin, and eventually Greek, although due to the self-taught nature of his studies his pronunciation of both these languages is abysmal.
Von Smallhausen entered the service of the Margraf of Ober Nord Westfalen at the age of eighteen, where his bookish interests led him to the Sekretariat. His aptitude for letters brought him to the notice of his superiors, and in a short while he was promoted to the role of Herr Flick's assistant.
Von smallhausen has a low opinion of Flick's morals, manners and methods, however he is intelligent enough not to allow his disdain for his superior to show, and is honest enough to recognise that not only are Flick's methods effective, but also that Flick is devoted to the interests of the Margraf and of the state.
Von Smallhausen's loyalties are somewhat more complex. He despises Flick, whom he regards as a vicious bully. but loyally supports him as his superior, while if not actively fearing him, is very aware of Flick's propensity to ruthless violence. While he is in the employ of the Margraf he will remain totally faithful to his office, but should his employment change, then so will his loyalties. Given his present condition he will dutifully carry out any and all orders for the good of the state.
Despite his physical appearance and myopia, von Smallhausen is remarkably strong, and under Flick's tutelage has developed into a more than competent swordsman. His native intelligence has been honed by exposure to the dirtier side of domestic and international politics, and while he controls a small group of agents and enforcers on the behalf of Flick, he also controls a smaller, more secretive group, which so far has escaped Flick's notice. To what end he maintains this latter group is not yet known, yet it is almost certain that he has planned his organisation for his own benefit.