Hermann the German greets travelers as they enter the town.
Visitors crossing over the majestic Missouri River on the Bond Bridge, coming into Hermann, are greeted by an impressive display of German American craftsmanship. Hermann the German is the perfect representation of town history, culture, and hospitality. But, do you know the real story behind this statue?
To start, Hermann the German was not always referred to this way. His given name was Arminius but was changed to Hermann during the times of Martin Luther. Arminius was responsible for liberating parts of Germany from Roman occupation. This act, in turn, allowed Germans to leave and settle new areas in America. As a central character in the narrative of our historic town, getting this statue right was of utmost importance.
The Hermann area is synonymous with Missouri Wine Country. It serves as the state center seat for viticulture with a long German history of winemaking to back up this claim. The first model used in the designing of this statue was a soldier in battle armor with a sword and knife. To soften the image, the figure’s arm would be extended, greeting guests with a goblet of Hermann wine.
The German Liberator (who was almost not German)
The statue that you see today, depicts a proud German man openly inviting you to the town of Hermann. However, the original drawings and small-scale figures took the project in a different direction.
Thankfully, multiple historians were involved in the project, and it was quickly realized that the original references were actually of a Roman soldier and not a German one! Though the Romans of this era were civilized—guiding the world in art and recorded history—this was a critical catch in the project.
From that point on, particular consideration was given to being utterly authentic. The plans were revised with extreme detail and accuracy. Anyone carefully inspecting this monument will notice these details. Easy examples are a ring and necklace—both additions to the original work. Critical decisions were made to construct the measurements of the statue as well. The original sculpture had stripped the soldier of his weapons. But, a soldier would never have been without his spear in public, so that change, was also adopted.
Delivery of a Landmark
Upon complete design approval, the production of the statue began. Art rarely abides by a schedule, and this was not a fast project. As deadlines were repeatedly pushed back, it was difficult to believe that the day had finally arrived for the statue to be delivered.
Hermann rode into town on an open-air trailer after passing through a snowstorm. While the weather did not allow for a warm welcome, Hermann was installed in his new home. Anyone encountering him will admit it was worth the wait!
Two thousand years after Arminius’s bold effort at Battle of Teutoburg Forest, the town of Hermann erected a statue in honor of the Germanic namesake. Now, this heroic landmark takes in the rewarding hillside views of his achievement every day—greeting and celebrating visitors to Hermann, while reminding the town of the role he played in their story.
Hermann the German is now another piece of town history. This is the first installment of a three-part series on the statues that serve as landmarks in Hermann. Keep an eye out for part two in the weeks ahead!