Otten, Herman: 2000th anniversary of the Battle of Teutoberg Forest

by Herman Otten, Editor

John Eidsmoe, a retired Air Force Lt. Colonel and pastor with the Assn. of Free Lutheran Congregations, has called attention to the fact that the year 2009 will be the 2000th anniversary of the Battle of Teutoberg Forest.

Colonel Eidsmoe called Teutoberg Forest one of the most decisive battles in world history. By driving the Roman legions back across the Rhine, German Chieftain Herman (Arminius) the Liberator preserved Northern Germany and Scandinavia from Roman conquest and from the influence of Roman law, government and culture. As a result, the Anglo-Saxons of Northern Germany retained the old Teutonic common law, with its emphasis on decentralized government, trial by jury, and individual rights. And when the Anglo-Saxons migrated to the British Isles, they brought that Teutonic common law with them.

“In a very real sense,” Eidsmoe said, “we owe our heritage of liberty under law to Herman the Liberator and the Germanic warriors of Teutoberg Forest.”

A statue of Herman stands near the battle site in Germany, and a smaller but magnificent statue of “Herman the German” stands atop a pavilion in New Ulm, Minnesota, and has been recognized by Congress as a national monument.

Eidsmoe also observed that Martin Luther, who had studied law and had championed the old Teutonic common law against the encroachments of the Holy Roman Emperor, popularized Herman as a symbol of the common law and made him into a Germanic folk hero. But today Herman and Teutoberg Forest are largely forgotten. It is therefore appropriate that German Lutherans should take the lead in restoring Herman to his rightful place among the heroes of history.

Eidsmoe believes the year 2009 should be marked with popular celebrations and scholarly conferences in honor of Herman and Teutoberg Forest, and that these events should rekindle in Americans’ hearts a love of the liberty and the legal heritage secured by that great battle. Those who are interested in celebrating “Teutoberg 2009” may contact him at [email protected]

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