Hermann the German!

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The Hermann Heights Monument is a statue erected in New Ulm, Minnesota. The statue depicts Hermann the Cheruscan, also known by the Latin name Arminius, but locals refer to the statue as Hermann the German. The only National Register of Historic Places property of its kind in Minnesota, the monument remains an impressive remembrance of German ancestry for many Minnesotans. Visitors to the statue can climb the spiral staircase to an observation platform at the base of the statue, which commands a view of the town and the Minnesota River Valley below.

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Arminius, also known as Armin or Hermann (b. 18 BC/17 BC in Magna Germania; d. AD 21 in Germania) was a chieftain of the Germanic Cherusci who defeated a Roman army in the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest. His influence held an allied coalition of Germanic tribes together in opposition to the Romans but after decisive defeats by the Roman general Germanicus, nephew of the Emperor Tiberius, his influence waned and he was assassinated on the orders of rival Germanic chiefs.

Although Arminius was ultimately unsuccessful in forging unity among the Germanic tribes, the loss of the Roman legions in the Teutoburg forest had a far-reaching effect on the subsequent history of both the ancient Germanic tribes and on the Roman Empire. The Romans made no more concerted attempts to conquer and permanently hold Germania beyond the river Rhine.

New Ulm was the site of a major battle of the Dakota War of 1862. Arminius’ leadership of Germans against the Romans was remarkably similar to the leadership of Little Crow of the Dakota that threatened to wipe out the infant settlement of New Ulm. Did the erectors of Herman the German not perceive these similarities?

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The park surrounding Hermann’s bizarre memorial is pleasantly located on a hill overlooking the town and the river valley.

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