Historica Germania

(ca. 500 B.C.-A.D. 100)

Roman Army defeated by Suevian tribe at Battle of the Teutoburg Forest in A.D. 9.

The Augustan military period of consolidation came as a necessity for imperial reconstruction, the effects of a war-weary nation, and the non-profit for continued expansion. Augustus and his successors were content and recognized the territorial Roman imperium northern limit as the Rhine River and Britain. This limit was established after 3 legions were ambushed and cut to pieces by German tribesmen at the Teutoburg Forest. Consulted was Richard A. Preston, A. Roland, and S.F.Wise, Men in Arms: A History of Warfare and its Interrelationships with Western Society, (Ft. Worth, TX: 1991), pp.38-39.
This sample of writing should be considered as objective and non-biased, nor does it promote any negative generalizations about the German people.

According to J.F.C. Fuller's book, A Military History of the Western World: From the Earlist Times to the Battle of Lepanto, Volume 1, (New York: 1954), pp. 246-251, the German leader Arminius was born with hatred against the Romans that grew out of their form of rule, exacting money and demanding gold for payment. Arminius was known as "the incendiary of Germany" and a "frantic spirit" who plotted the ambush of the 3 legions. As the legions wound their way through the forest, a violent storm erupted. As trees came crashing down amidst the rain, slipping in mud, the Romans lost their order and became mixed with wagons, legionaires, and the unarmed. At this point Arminius attacked with javelins. The Romans halted and former a fortified camp. Under continued rain they bogged down the next moroning where they were unable to fight effectively. Velleius Paterculus, a Roman writer/historian of the time, chronicles the event, "Hemmed in by the forests and marsches and ambuscades," the Roman Army was "exterminated almost to a man." Fuller continues with "Those who were captured were crucified, buried alive, or offered up as sacrifices to the gods. When, a few years later, Germanicus visited the battlefield, he found whitening bones, fragements of javelins, limbs of horses, and skulls fixed upon the trunks of trees; a grim picture, grimley described by Tacticus (Roman)."
Comment: The writings of the Romans convey the horror of battle, however they are interpretations of history. While Fuller makes the point that the accounts may be untrue, he promotes the idea that Germans were savage barbarians.

Defining German Barbarism

"The experience of fighting two world wars against the Germans has led to much speculation and almost as much writing about the 'German problem,' and many facile theories have been advanced to explain the German mind and character. Not the least popular of these has been the theory that the Germans are by nature subservient to authority, militaristic, and aggressive, and that there is very little that anyone can do about this except deprive them of the means of making themselves dangerous to their neighbours."

"To assign national characteristics to a people is at best a chancy business, and arguments based upon such attritbution are apt to fall of their own weight. That authoritarian government, militarism, and aggression have characterized German political life and action in the modern period few would deny. The basic assumption, however, is that these things are not inherent in the German character but are rather "products of a structure which vitiated the attempts to create a viable democracy."

Consulted was Gordon A. Craig, The Politics of the Prussian Army 1640-1945, (New York: 1955), p.1.