THE BATTLE OF TEUTOBURGER WALD

Destiny-Point For The West

By EDWARD LANGFORD

Culture Distortion has so completely captured our environment that even the most significant events in our past are tending to become unknown or twisted beyond recognition. Here is the heroic story of Herman who, in the year 9, led our ancestors to victory over the Roman tyrant and shaped the world thereafter.

It was all of five years ago when a group of NORTHERN LEAGUE members gathered in the Teutoburger Wald (Teutoburger Forest) to celebrate the 1950th anniversary of the victory of Herman (or, as the Romans knew him, Arminius) over the Roman legions commanded by Varus. This victory was of the greatest importance to the West, as it saved North Europe from Roman domination at a time when Rome had become cosmopolitan and corrupt. Many of the "Roman" soldiers who fell in this battle were actually Teutons, employed as mercenaries, and the Romans themselves had once been a Nordic people, but a Roman victory at this time would have carried the power of the doomed empire to the shores of the Baltic and probably beyond. The implications for today are beyond calculation. That all of the languages spoken today in Europe would be different beyond recognition is only one. Of more importance would be the effects from making North Europe a biological, spiritual and cultural colony of the corrupt and decadent malignancy that was Rome at the time of the birth of Christ. A knowledge of Spengler's teaching of the organic culture tells us that the West could never have developed under these conditions. Indeed, even technology – which is the easiest aspect of the West to understand – would still be in the stage of the alchemist, the horse-drawn cart and the sailing ship.

But Herman's victory, which is commemorated to this day. by his statue in the Teutoburger Wald known as the Hermans-denkmal, instead turned the tide of war and resulted in the ultimate destruction of Rome itself.

The following account of the battle is taken largely from Sir Edward Creasy's definitive Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World. A full account of the epic struggle will be found in Charles Kingsley's great work, The Teuton and the Roman. Let us then study the story of how the fathers of the West defeated and annihilated Rome's greatest army, as it pushed inexorably forward amid oaken forests in the very heart of North Europe; further than any Roman was again to travel.

THE BATTLE-SCENE

It was in the territory that was later to be known as the principality of Lippe that Herman fixed the scene of his enterprise. Here a woody and hilly region intervenes between the heads of the rivers Ems and Weser, and forms the watershed of their streams. This region still retains the name (Teutoburger Wald – Teuto-bergiensis saltus) which it bore in the days of Herman. The eastern part of it, around Detmold, the old capital of the principality of Lippe, is described by a German scholar, Dr. Plate, as being "a table-land intersected by numerous deep and narrow valleys, which in some places form small plains surrounded by steep mountains and rocks, and only accessible by narrow defiles. All the valleys are traversed by rapid streams, shallow in the dry season, but subject to sudden swellings in autumn and winter. The vast forests which cover the summits and slopes of the hills consists chief ly of oak; there is little underwood, and both men and horse would move with ease in the forests if the ground were not broken by gulleys, or rendered impracticable by fallen trees." This is the district to which Varus marched; and Dr. Plate adds, that the names of several localities on and near that spot indicate that a great battle had once been fought there. We find the names das Winnefeld (the field of victory), die Knochenbahn (the bone-lane), die Knochenleke (the bone brook), der Mord-kessel (the kettle of slaughter) and others. Contrary to the usual strict principles of Roman discipline, Varus suffered his army to be accompanied and impeded by an immense train of baggage-wagons, and by a rabble of camp followers; as if his troops had been merely changing their quarters in a friendly country. When the long array quitted the firm level ground, and began to wind its way up into the woods, the marshes and the ravines, the difficulties of the march, even without the intervention of an armed foe, became fearfully apparent. In many places the soil, sodden with rain, was impracticable for cavalry and even for infantry.

HERMAN ATTACKS

The crowd and confusion of the columns embarrassed the working parties of the soldiery, and in the midst of their toil and disorder the word was suddenly passed through their ranks that the rear-guard was attacked by the Teutons. Varus resolved on pressing forward; but a heavy discharge of missiles from the woods on either flank taught him how serious was the peril, and he saw the best men falling round him without the opportunity of retaliation. Many at once deserted, and it was impossible to deploy the legionaries on such broken ground for a charge against the enemy. Choosing one of the most open and firm spots which they could force their way to, the Romans halted for the night.

On the morrow the Romans attempted to renew their march; the veteran officers who served under Varus now directing the operations, and hoping to find the Germans drawn up to meet him; in which case they relied on their own superior discipline and tactics for such a victory as should reassure the supremacy of Rome. But Herman was far too sage a commander to lead on his followers, with their unwieldy broad swords and inefficient defensive armour, against the Roman legionaries, fully armed with helmet, cuirass, greaves, and shield. Instead he suffered the Romans to march out from their camp, to form first in line for action, and then in column for marching, without the show of opposition. For some distance Varus was allowed to move on, only harassed by slight skirmishes, but struggling with difficulty through the broken ground; the toil and distress of his men being aggravated by heavy torrents of rain, which burst upon the devoted legions as if the angry gods of Germany were pouring out the vials of their wrath upon the invaders. After some little time their van approached a ridge of high wood ground, which is one of the offshoots of the great Hercynian forest, and is situated between the modern villages of Driburg and Bielefeld. Herman had caused barricades of hewn trees to be formed here, so as to make further advance impossible. Fatigue and discouragement now began to betray themselves in the Roman ranks. Their line became less steady; baggage wagons were abandoned from the impossibility of forcing them along; and, as this happened, many soldiers left their ranks and crowded round the wagons to secure the most valuable portions of their property. Herman now gave the signal for a general attack. The fierce shouts of the Germans pealed through the gloom of the forests, and in thronging multitudes they assailed the flanks of the invaders, pouring in on the encumbered legionaries, as they struggled up the glens or floundered in the morasses, and watching every opportunity of charging through the intervals of the disjointed column, and so cutting off the communication between its several brigades. Herman, with a chosen band of warriors around him, cheered on his countrymen by voice and example.

THE ROMANS RETREAT

Varus now ordered the troops to be countermarched, in the hope of reaching the nearest Roman garrison on the Lippe. But retreat was as impossible as advance; and the falling back of the Romans only augmented the courage of their assailants, and caused fiercer charges on the flanks of the disheartened army. The Roman officer who commanded the cavalry Numoniurn Vala, rode off with his squadrons, in the vain hope of escaping by thus abandoning his comrades. Unable to keep together, or force their way across the woods and swamps, the horsemen were overpowered in detail and slaughtered to the last man. The Roman infantry, comprising mostly Teutonic mercenaries, still held together and resisted, but more through the instinct of discipline and bravery thin from any hope of success or escape. Varus, after being severely wounded in a charge of the Germans against his part of the column, committed suicide to avoid falling into the hands of those whom he had exasperated by his oppressions. One of the lieutenant generals of the army fell fighting; the other surrendered to the enemy.

The bulk of the Roman army fought steadily and stubbornly, frequently repelling the masses of the assailants but gradually losing the compactness of their array. At last, in a series of desperate attacks the column was pierced through and through, two of the eagles captured, and the Roman host, which on the yester-morning had marched forth in such pride and might, now broken up into confused fragments, either fell fighting the enemy, or perished in the swamps and woods in unavailing efforts at flight. Few, very few, ever saw again the left bank of the Rhine. One body of brave veterans, arraying themselves in a ring on a little mound, beat off every charge of the Germans, and prolonged their honourable resistance to the dose of that dreadful day. The traces of a feeble at tempt at forming a ditch and mound attested in after years the spot where the last of the Romans passed their night of suffering and despair. But on the morrow this remnant also, worn out with hunger, wounds and toil, was yielded to the victorious Germans.

Never was victory more decisive, never was the liberation of an oppressed people more instantaneous and complete, Throughout Germany the Roman garrisons were assailed and cut off; and, within a few weeks after Varus had fallen, Northern soil was freed from the foot of the invader.

THE ROMAN TERROR

At Rome, the tidings of the battle was received with an agony of terror, the descriptions of which we should deem exaggerated, did they not come from Roman historians themselves. In these passages the Roman writers tell emphatically how great was the awe which the Romans felt of the prowess of the Northerners, if their various tribes could be brought to reunite for a common purpose.

Terrible portents were seen or imagined. The summits of the Alps were said to have fallen. In the Campus Martius, the temple of the War-God, from whom the founder of Rome had sprung, was struck by a thunderbolt. The nightly heavens glowed several times, as if on fire. Many comets blued forth together; and fiery meteors, shaped like spears, shot from the northern quarter of the sky, down into the Roman camps. It was said, too, that a statue of Victory, which had stood at a place on the frontier, pointing the way towards Germany, had of its own accord turned round, and now pointed to Italy. The Emperor Augustus beat his head against the wall and cried "Varus, Varus, give me back my legions." We learn this from his biographer, Suetonius; and indeed, every ancient writer who alludes to the overthrow of Varus, attests the importance of the blow against the Roman power, and the bitterness with which it was felt.

The blow which Herman had struck never was forgotten. Roman fear disguised itself under the specious tide of moderation and the Rhine became the acknowledged boundary of the two nations until the fifth century of our era, when the Germans became the assailants, and carved with their conquering swords the provinces of Imperial Rome into the kingdoms of modern Europe.


Western Destiny – August 1964