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Hermann fans have a blast

Once again, Romans fall to Germanic hordes

September 20, 2009
By Serra Muscatello, Staff Writer

NEW ULM - With a few thousand spectators watching the scenes unfolding before them, Arminius - also known as "Hermann the German" - led his troops, once again, to victory over the Roman legions of Quintilus Varus.

Battle re-enactors coming from as far away as Ontario Canada, Texas, California, and Philadelphia made a historical battle in the Teutoburg forest dating back 2,000 years ago come alive on Saturday afternoon.

Everyone had gathered around the hill - transformed into a temporary battlefield for the day - in Harman Park to watch the battle re-enactment. The hill is located just below New Ulm's own Hermann monument.

Article Photos

Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
New Ulm was treated to an awesome fireworks display shot off in front of the Hermann monument Saturday night. For more photos of this event, go to

Back in 9 A.D., the 17th, 18th and 19th Roman Legions led by Varus were ambushed by Hermann's tribal forces in a series of battles ending Roman expansion between the Rhine and Elbe rivers. These historical events helped shaped the foundations of modern Europe.

Roman re-enactors in their authentic, colorful military clothing and Hermann's tribal forces some wearing face paint and furs gave the onlookers a firsthand view, scene-by-scene of just how the battle happened.

"It tells the story of Arminius (Hermann) defeating the Romans ... Hermann ambushed 18,000 Romans," said Tony Rajer, who acted as the narrator during the re-enactment and the "voice of history." Rajer traveled from Madison, Wis. to be a part of the weekend's celebration and battle re-enactment. He is a member of the Roman XI Legion-Rome.

The battle re-enactment was one of the highlights during the Hermann Victory Celebration which is being held all weekend in the City of New Ulm.

"Perfect family entertainment for walks of life," said Rajer.

Rajer expressed appreciation to Alexander Roth, of New Ulm, who wrote a professsional script for the re-enactors to follow during the battle.

"We thank all of those people, including the Mayor (Joel Albrecht), and the re-enactors who supported this effort to bring an event from 2,000 years alive today in New Ulm," said Rajer, "I thought the turnout was excellent. Not only an excellent turnout, but also there was a sincere interest amongst the visitors ... and the public."

A civilian camp was set up at the front of the park that served as an information center during weekend. A Roman military camp, German camp, living history display and modern military history displays were all set up for the weekend in Harman Park. People could walk through the different camps and learn about how the Romans and Germans lived back 2,000 years ago.

Rajer estimated there were over 5,000 people who came through the park during the day on Saturday, (including those who attended the battle re-enactment).

Rajer had set up his own tent in the civilian camp.

"All afternoon I had kids at my booth ... trying on armor, playing with the swords, looking at the coins ... it was truly a wonderful experience to share with this community," said Rajer.

Rajer said he expressed his "thanks to John Makepeace (of New Ulm) and the committee for inviting all of us ... and to thank Mr. and Mrs. Seeboth (of New Ulm) for providing us with food."

There were re-enacting soldiers who had traveled from Connecticut, Kentucky, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota to participate in the battle.

"They all came to New Ulm Minnesota ... and they all paid their own way," said Rajer.

There were 40 Romans and 60 barbarians, totaling about 100-plus re-enactors, said Rajer.

"We had beautiful weather (for the battle)," said Rajer, "We have to thank God for the nice weather."

The festival continued throughout the day with a variety of events. An academic symposium examined the historical context of the battle, while dioramas on display at the New Ulm Rec Center gave viewers an idea of how the battle may have gone down, and the tactics that Hermann used.

The New Ulm Battery shot a few rounds at noon, and helped anchor an exhibit of warfare and weaponry throughout the ages, along with a Blackhawk helicopter.

The festival atmosphere, with music, food and fun continued throughout the afternoon. Crowds hung in for an outdoor concert by Jonah and the Whales, which took a brief break for "Hermann's Thunderous Fireworks" display that lit up the night sky over the Hermann Monument.



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