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Erwin's father was a teacher and had his son as one of his pupils. After Erwin asked his father a question during class, Erwin's father eventually told his son of a dangerous theory. Official history books being full of contradictions and mysteries, Erwin's father believed that humanity's memory has been wiped out at some point, which might explain why there is no story or memories of the Walls' construction. This theory cost Erwin's father his life, but encouraged Erwin to seek out the truth about the world's origins and prove his father's guess was correct.
At some point, Erwin came up with the Long-Distance Enemy Scouting Formation as a new tactic for the Survey Corps. At first rejected by his superior, it eventually became the formation used for every expedition once Erwin becomes the Commander.
While on the verge of death, Erwin would suddenly lash out while hysterically repeating the last question he asked his father. This action would cause Levi to remember the commander's last words before leading the suicide attack against the Beast Titan. Levi would then choose to save Armin Arlert with the Titan injection believing it would finally allow Erwin to rest.