High above DETMOLD on the forested ridge of the Teutoburger Wald 35km north of Paderborn stands a remarkable monument to one of the founding legends of the German nation-state, the Hermannsdenkmal – a solitary, wing-helmeted warrior raising his sword high over the canopy of trees.
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The Hermannsdenkmal was the vision of one dogged obsessive, the sculptor Joseph Ernst von Bandel, a bust of whom stands outside the hut he occupied while struggling to complete the 53.46-metre-high monument, begun in 1838 and finally completed with financial support from the Prussian state in 1875. The copper-green warrior commemorates Arminius (or “Hermann”), chieftain of the Cherusci, who united local tribes in 9 AD to annihilate three Roman legions at the battle of Teutoburger Wald and thus struck an early blow for German unity. Though the impetus for Hermann’s construction was blatantly nationalistic, these days he cuts a romantic figure, and there’s no denying the beauty of the views from the platform at his feet.