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Nazis Disappeared in the 1940's. Right?

Updated on March 11, 2013

Historic Moments Series ------

A Brief Survey of History

The Germans have a way of protecting themselves because they are surrounded NOT by other Germany's, but by lest industrious, predictable nations that don't tend to their Treasuries.

Napoleon Made Quite an Impression. “Nationalistic” Germany Set About Inventing Itself by Looking Back 2000 Years

The battle of the Teutoberg Forest, an overwhelming defeat and seminal event in Roman and German History was a severe blow both psychically and existentially for the Romans and put a virtual end to their desire to vanquish what we would now call the Northern part of Germany.

Indeed this battle is one that all parties tend to agree on regarding the national identity of the Germans and the ultimate shaping of the true border of the Roman Empire.

Ancient Roman Battle Holds Importance for German Pride

The German People in general are fascinated today by the stories of the “lost legions” of Rome, which disappeared in Teutotberg Forrest around 2000 years ago.

In the year 2009, Germans celebrated this battle which has now become mythologized perhaps unlike any other battle. To sum it up quickly, because the mighty Roman army, previously unconquerable made a foray across the Rhine, and attacked the Teutons, was so roundly defeated in a period of only three days and completely disappeared from the Roman Army this tale has been resurrected century after century because of the totality of the “German” victory.

The task of pacifying and Romanizing the Germans was begun in 13 B.C. by Tiberius the Emperor’s stepson. Under Tiberius’ combination of competence and violence, stability was maintained. However, the command of the three legions in Germany eventually fell to a not so brilliant, Publius Quinctilius Varus.

Varus was a man who saw this position as administrative and not really military. He performed the typical Roman model: bleeding the locals dry, a lack of discipline causing languishing legionary strength. To fall into a typical trap, he relied too much on a local “ally”, notably a Prince called Arminius of the Cherusci Tribe. Arminius was a German. He served with Tiberius in Illyricum and worked on Varus’ staff. Varus was unduly impressed with him, Arminus often confessed that he adored “Roman” ways. His true loyalty lay with his German friends and relatives. As it turns out, he did indeed have resentments, and he built his secret relationships with the Cherusci, Chatti and Bructeri tribes.

Now, there was only the timing and the plot to work on. Arminius, in the autumn of 9 A.D., Varus marched his three legions from one camp to a new camp further west. The army had fifteen thousand men along with a train of ten thousand women, children, slaves and animals.

The march was going to be narrow and arduous and slow. It was at times nine miles long as they wound through ravines. Varus’s trust was so complete that the deception would be considered easy. The cunning of Arminius and the planning of the Germans made sure of the exact route that would be taken. In a fashion not unlike Vietnam traps against Americans, and snares made by American Revolutionary soldiers against the British, thousands of German warriors prepared the trail with trapdoors, hides and traps. Then, it was just the waiting.

Crucified on Sacred Oaks

Varus’ army marched and the second day, just before dusk, when the entire army was far from the safety of camp, the Germans flew all over the Romans. Small-bands of warriors burst from their hides and cut down passing Romans, then melted into the forest. Spears were hurled from trees or rocky outcrops. The Romans, trained to fight in large formations in the open field, were ambushed as they fell into complete disarray. They were cut to pieces by one attack after another.

For three days and three nights the Germans hunted the shattered bands of Romans to extinction, deep in the dark rain-drenched forest. There were few survivors. Some, including Varus, chose suicide rather than fall into enemy hands. It was the German practice to sacrifice their prisoners to their Druidic gods by crucifying them on sacred oak trees. After the battle the heads of the Roman dead were nailed up along the trail; all except for Varus, whose head Arminius presented to Morboduus, the King of Bohemia, to try for a big public relations impression.

The Entire Roman Army would never again field more than 25 Legions within all of its Borders until its end

Three entire legions, out of Rome’s twenty-eight, were swallowed by the Teutoberg forest. But the defeat in Germany generated shockwaves. Those three days in the German forest decided the course of history for millennia to come. Rome was already short of military manpower and the losses in Germany simply could not be made up. Those three legions disappeared from the roles forever and the Roman army would never again field more than twenty-five legions. As the old emperor Augustus drew near death, Augustus cried out, close to death, “Varus give me back my legions!”

“Never Cross the Rhine”

Roman confidence was blown and irreparable. In his will, Augustus advised Tiberius to never again cross the Rhine – “be satisfied with what we have and never desire to increase the size of the empire”. This policy would hold until the fall of Rome.

Those who take the long view and like to extrapolate about history do declare that there are various scenarios in politics and religion and in fact the whole development of government in the Middle Ages which, because of the fact that the “Germans did not become Romanized” makes the Battle of Teutoborg Forest one of the most important in European History.

Establishing the “Fatherland” in the 1800’s

During the rise of German nationalism at the beginning of the 19th century, Napoleon’s occupation history caused an electrifying manifestation of iconic images and Germanic heroes from real history. What they called “nationalist historians” rediscovered an Ancient Hero “Arminius” or “Herrmann” (his Germanic name). This figure became something mythic in a quickly processed and assimilated image-making factory. Because of this growing German nationalism, Arminius became the chief figure in numerous books.

This character “Herrmann” from 2000 years ago was a manufactured symbol for the rock hard backbone of the concept called the “Fatherland”.

In a deep existential psychic explosion the Germans started coming together, as a reaction to Napoleon’s complete conquests. 19 Centuries after the battle, after having been forgotten throughout the ages, Arminius became a bonafide product; indeed appearing seemingly “suddenly” as the hero of countless books, theatre plays and tunes. Of course, these were more fable than the side-stepped historical facts.

In 1871 a large statue of this ancient character was erected near where that battle occurred. This became a place of pilgrimage for German Nationalism. The Nazis, later on, in their constant desire to reinvent German history into Aryan history turned a chance for propaganda into “Zieg Heil Wallhalla”. The “master race” was given the art and the clay and the thunderous force for its formation through the use of these tools.

This is now history, but Arminius posthumous fate shows us as a species that historical events can be manipulated for the purpose of Propaganda. An invigorated force filled with violent hatred can be animated by images that have long long ago perished and vanished.

When I was viewing the savagery and genocidal conflicts in the area that we called “Yogoslavia” and (Albania, Serbia, Boznia and Herzegovina), I listened to the tale of a village which still held vengeful venomous angst against the Villages nearby. This was in the 1990’s. The Reporter capsulized the old tale: 500 years ago, a complete ruthless defeat of one village was caused by the invading Islamic force. This defeat still held sway over the villagers, as the defeat still lived in their minds, passed along in tradition, from generation to generation.

History is a mural. History is a tapestry. History holds colors in its threads that last for centuries. The articles of Historic Moments Series have to do not with dates and statistics, but with how the effect of history on the human heart lasts much longer, and more subtly than we can truly, deeply appreciate. With an elaboration of historic events, we can look back and forward to see how the human heart and soul have been affected through the generations.

Next articles in the Historic Moments Series pertain to Eugenics, Aryanism, the “Final Solution” and the new German National Democratic Party


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    • one2get2no profile image

      Philip Cooper 5 years ago from Olney

      Interesting and Informative hub. Thanks you.

    • Christofers Flow profile image

      Christofer French 5 years ago from Denver

      This is fascinating! And back to my point. The very idea of Germany had to be "invented" by the forces and indeed the "dualism". This essentially "tribalist", small town ness is in Ireland too. Ireland never did become a Germany because it was so totally dominated by "Germanic/Saxon" England. The "pride" of the fighting family emanates from this mini territorial way of seeing their lives. There were not even walled cities in Ireland until after the Viking Invasions. The reason the Germans were fierce in WWII is not only because of their "ideology", but also their individual sense of their family, their town, their province. Powerful COMMENT.

    • CHRIS57 profile image

      CHRIS57 5 years ago from Northern Germany

      Just a little addon for my first comment (Diversity of Germany created in the 17th and 18th century):

      There is a little gadget called "gridded cartograms". This method biases data, f.e. population over total landmass. What comes out are totally distorted maps. Low population density areas diminish while high population areas (China, India) grow to huge bubbles.

      If the technique is applied to the territory of Germany, there is not much distortion, the shape remains as is. The explanation is simple: Population is evenly distributed, there is no center of activity, no metropolitan capital (like London, Paris, US East coast, West Coast..). The "tiny" state patchwork of the 18th century is still existing.

      Much of the ambivalence of German national self esteem is related to the dualism of German nationality and local identity (just to spare the guilt feelings of WWII).

      If there were any uprising or revolution to come up in Germany, you wouldn´t know if it was to take place in Frankfurt, Munich, Berlin, Hamburg, Düsseldorf, Leipzig, Stuttgart or even Bonn (John LeCarre: "A small town in Germany").

    • Christofers Flow profile image

      Christofer French 5 years ago from Denver

      Thanks for your additional comments. The effect upon Rome was probably more remarkable and notable in that truly it was not "who" they were fighting, as much as that darned River Rhine came to have so much meaning. The Romans really did conclude that it was not worth their resources to venture forth. Apparently history shows a foray three years later in which they found thousands of bleached bones, but they never again thought of doing what Napoleon ended up doing. Yes Europe just turned into Europe, but the resurrection of this event in the 1800s was fascinating to me.

    • CHRIS57 profile image

      CHRIS57 5 years ago from Northern Germany

      I am not sure if that was an analysis. If you read more from the really learned history professionals, things probably won´t be as simple as i put them.

      You are not very far off though with your hub, because in 1808 Heinrich von Kleist wrote the drama "Die Hermannsschlacht" after grieve and sentiments over a lost battle and defeat of Prussia in war against France.

      This theaterpiece was first played in 1860 and it was used until WWII to express and ignite patriotic feelings.

      Because nationalism is not really en vogue in the Germany of now a days, many variants of this theater drama evolved with less nationalistic background. Those plays are mostly dealing with the relationship between Hermann and his wife Thusnelda.

      While in Germany of today no sentiment is associated with the name "Hermann", the name "Thusnelda" is immediately associated to a bitchy or touchy woman. But that is all that is left from the ancient battle in 9AC.

    • Christofers Flow profile image

      Christofer French 5 years ago from Denver

      Thank you for your learned and thorough comment. I am glad I made you "smile". "Simple economic reasoning". If the authors who made a hero out of Arminius had only known that all they needed to do was wait for "simple economic reasoning", then all of German history could be so simply understood. I have never seen such a cool analysis.

    • CHRIS57 profile image

      CHRIS57 5 years ago from Northern Germany

      Makes me smile, how you interpret the ancient Roman battles.

      First of all, 2000 years ago there were no "German" people living north of the Alps. That was a bunch of tribes, living in poor conditions, with low organizational skills. Romans penetrated the territory and enforced payment of tributes. That payment also included human resources, people, children. Arminius, later called "Hermann" was one of the tribute kids taken to Rome, raised, trained and educated to become a Roman soldier. And these Roman skills enabled Arminius to tactically organize and unite the multiple tribes in the uprising against Rome. Of course that battle was quite spectacular, but for most of the time before and after the "Schlacht am Teutoburger Wald" living was peaceful. And that includes the territories before and (believe it or not) beyond the Limes, as recent research has proven.

      Now the 18th and 19th century: Before Napoleon the "German" territories were split into numerous small and tiny pieces with few larger chunks like Prussia or Bavaria. Economic life and trade was quite cumbersome in the times of the "Zollverein". And the example of organizational progress of a united Napoleonic France led to the thrive for unity, first expressed by students in Eisenach in 1817. It took until 1848 to form national ideas and identity.

      What is left from the age of the "Zollverein", from a country split into tiny pieces is the great diversity. In the 18th century every little territory had its own money, economy, manufacturing. The economies were competing among each other. The only connecting links was the common language.

      After the fall of France in 1870 a united German Reich was proclaimed (2nd Reich). But the economic diversity remained and its artefacts like economic rivalry and pursuit of excellence and quality.

      Even WWII has witnessed this resilience of a diversivied industrial complex. It must have driven Air Marshall Harris mad for having to drop bombs on almost every spot in Germany to extinguish industrial production.

      Even today the main drivers of economic prosperity are not the big Mercedes, Siemens, Thyssen-Krupp, but the myriad of small and midsize companies that make things works, the "Mittelstand".

      So any "German" identity and generic footprint evolved in the "tiny state" times of the 17th and 18th century, matured through economic pressure in the first half of the 19th century.

      What all that has to do with "deep existential psychic explosion" is beyond my understanding. It was simple economic reasoning that lead to a unified Germany.

    • ElderYoungMan profile image

      Elderyoungman 5 years ago from Worldwide

      Interesting. The Bible has a perspective on the similarities between the Romans and nationalistic Germany. The Book of Daniel describes "Beasts or Kingdoms". When Hitler fell, what you saw was the ending of the 3rd reign(riech). This reign started with the romans and ended with the germans, so where the scriptures are concerned, they are essentially the same empire. Hitler went to war to re-consolidate the Holy Roman empire. That's why he saw such staunch support from the vatican or what was initially established as the religious component of the whole Roman Empire. So...yes, there will be some similarities.