Who We Are (15)

The following is my abridgement of chapter 15 of William Pierce’s history of the white race, Who We Are:

Ancient Germans,
German Growth, Roman Imperialism Led to Conflict
[Tacitus on Germanic peoples]



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The first wave of Battle-Axe People to leave the ancient Nordic heartland in the forests and steppes of southern Russia appeared in the Germanic area of northern Europe even before the Neolithic Revolution had become well established there, prior to 4,000 B.C.

It would be incorrect, of course, to refer to these earliest Nordic immigrants as “Germans.” All that can be said of them, just as of those immigrants south of them who later gave birth to the Celts, is that they were Indo-Europeans. The process of cultural-ethnic differentiation had not resulted in the fairly clear-cut distinctions which allowed one group of people to be identified as Germans, another as Celts, and a third as Balts until approximately the first half of the first millennium B.C.

By about 2,000 B.C., however, the ancestors of the Germans—call them proto-Germans—were at home in southern Sweden, the Danish peninsula, and the adjacent lands between the Elbe and the Oder. To the east were the proto-Balts, to the west and south the proto-Celts.

From this tiny proto-German homeland, about the size of the state of Tennessee, the Germans expanded their dominion during the ensuing 3,000 years over all of Europe, from Iceland to the Urals, ruling over Celts, Balts, Slavs, Latins, and Greeks, as well as the non-Indo-European peoples of the Roman Empire. After that it was Germanic peoples, primarily, who discovered, settled, and conquered North America and who, until the internal decay of the last few decades, wielded effective political power even over the non-White hordes of Asia and Africa.

German expansion. Seventeen centuries before the Teutonic Order conquered the Baltic lands, German expansion eastward along the southern shore of the Baltic Sea had extended German settlement and rule from the Oder to the Vistula. At the same time, expansion was also taking place toward the west and the south, bringing about mingling—and often conflict—between Germans and Celts. With the Roman conquest of Gaul in the first century B.C., direct conflict between the expanding Germans and still mighty and expanding Rome became inevitable.

Actually the death struggle between Latins and Germans began even before Caesar’s subjection of Gaul. Late in the second century two neighboring German tribes, the Cimbrians and the Teutons, left their homes in the Danish peninsula because, they said, of the sinking of much of their low-lying land into the sea. Some 300,000 in number, they headed south, crossing the Tyrolese Alps into northern Italy in 113 B.C., where they asked the Romans for permission either to settle or to cross Roman territory into the Celtic lands to the west.

The Roman consul, Papirius Carbo, attempted to halt them, and they defeated his army. The Germans then proceeded westward into Gaul and went as far as Spain, where they raised havoc. Ten years later, however, they returned to northern Italy.

This time they were met by a more competent Roman general, the consul Gaius Marius. In two horrendous battles, in 102 and 101 B.C., Marius virtually exterminated the Teutons and the Cimbrians. So many Teutons were massacred at Aquae Sextiae in 102 that, according to a contemporary Roman historian, their blood so fertilized the earth that the orchards there were especially fruitful for years afterward, and German bones were used to build fences around the vineyards.

At Vercelli the Cimbrians met a similar fate the following year; more than 100,000 were slaughtered. When the German women saw their men being defeated, they first slew their children and then killed themselves in order to avoid the shame of slavery.

The annihilation of these two German nations was followed by a few decades in which Italy remained relatively safe from further incursions from the north. The Germans’ territory was bounded, roughly, on the east by the Vistula and on the south by the Danube. In the west the boundary was less definite, and the Germans west of the Rhine came into repeated conflict with Roman armies in Gaul.

Tacitus on the Germans. The Romans were naturally curious about the teeming tribes of fierce, warlike people beyond the Rhine who dared contest their conquest of the lands in northern Gaul, and several Roman writers enumerated them and described their way of life, most notably the historian Gaius Cornelius Tacitus. Writing in a first-century Rome which was thoroughly mongrelized, Tacitus was strongly impressed by the Germans’ apparent racial homogeneity:

I concur in opinion with those who deem the Germans never to have intermarried with other nations but to be a pure and unmixed race, stamped with a distinct character. Hence, a family likeness pervades the whole, though their numbers are so great. Their eyes are stern and blue, their hair ruddy, and their bodies large, powerful in sudden exertion, but impatient of toil and not at all capable of sustaining thirst and heat. They are accustomed by their climate to endure cold and hunger.

When the Germans fight, wrote Tacitus, perhaps remembering the example of the Teutons and Cimbrians, “they have within hearing the yells of their women and the cries of their children.”

Tradition relates that armies beginning to give way have been rallied by the females, through the earnestness of their supplications, the interposition of their bodies, and the pictures they have drawn of impending slavery, a calamity which these people bear with more impatience for their women than themselves.

If these appeals were not sufficient to elicit honorable behavior from each and every German, Tacitus added, their fellow tribesmen dealt with them severely: “Traitors and deserters are hanged; cowards and those guilty of unnatural practices are suffocated in mud under a hurdle.” Subject to the same punishment as cowards and homosexuals were draft dodgers: those who failed to present themselves for military service when summoned.

The education of the German youth stressed not only bravery and skill in arms, but loyalty in the highest degree. Tacitus gives an interesting description of the mutual obligations between a German leader and his companions in arms:

The Germans transact no business, public or private, without being armed, but it is not customary for any person to assume arms until the state has approved his ability to use them. Then, in the midst of the assembly, either one of the chiefs, or the father, or a relative, equips the youth with a shield and a spear. These are to them the manly gown (toga virilis); this is the first honor conferred on youth. Before, they are considered as part of a household; afterwards, of the state.

There is a great emulation among the companions as to which shall possess the highest place in the favor of their chief, and among the chiefs as to which shall excel in the number and valor of this companions. It is their dignity and their strength always to be surrounded by a large body of select youth: an ornament in peace, a bulwark in war.

Thus, already in Tacitus’ time, was the foundation in existence upon which the medieval institutions of chivalry and feudalism would rest.

The philosopher Lucius Annaeus Seneca, also writing in the first century, shared Tacitus’ respect for the Germans’ martial qualities: “Who are braver than the Germans? Who more impetuous in the charge? Who fonder of arms, in the use of which they are born and nourished, which are their only care?”

Caesar, Tacitus, and other writers also described other attributes of the Germans and various aspects of their lives: their shrines, like those of the Celts and the Balts, were in sacred groves, open to the sky; their family life (in Roman eyes) was remarkably virtuous, although the German predilection for strong drink and games of chance must have been sorely trying to wives; they were extraordinarily hospitable to strangers and fiercely resentful of any infringements on their own rights and freedoms; each man jealously guarded his honor, and a liar was held in worse repute than a murderer; usury and prostitution were unknown among them.

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