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The Legend
about the Coat of arms of the
Arnim family

The battle was lost for the Dutch.
The count flew towards the stream.
The conquering Frisian troops
they followed them without delay.

Across the wild waters there lay
a bridge for to rescue their lives.
The count had commended von Arnim
the bridge for his troops' escape.

Von Arnim let pass all the runners
without a word or forbode,
He stayed, by his honour and faith,
at his post with his weapon and mind.

When all had cros sed over to safety,
the squire was last to flee;
before though he threw all the wood planks
deep into the growling stream.

Two girders but stayed in their fixings
Two beams just narrow and strong
which resisted all efforts of breaking
so Arnim remained to defend.

Great hordes of victorious Frisians
in wild persecution arrived:
the squire von arnim stroke strongly
and man after man fell to die.

He trew from the narrow girders
then one after one down the stream
till the foaming waters turned crimson,
dark red from the Frisian's blodd

the squire he stayed on his girder,
no quiver, no twitch would he show,
his strengt was the honour and faith,
his word to the count and his sword.

Courageously stopped for his people
the squire this Frisian persuit
while the count realigned his soldiers
for the following battle and win.

And when the Dutch were defeated
the sun showed anew her bright light,
the hero received near his waters
the honouring knighthood with arms.

And red as the tinted river
would now be coloured his shield,
with two silver beams all across it,
remembering courage and deed.

Since one thousand years now carry
the Arnims this coat of arms:
two silver bars across crimson,
to remember the ancester's deed.

Still today no real von Arnim
will leave his post until finished,
successful completed his task,
like once the squire at the bridge.

George Hesekiel,
translated by Gisela Baronin von Keyserlingk

Remarks on the Legend of the Coat of Arms:

The legend of the Coat of Arms probably goes back to an actual event. The family chronicle “Das Geschlecht von Arnim, IV. Teil, Chronik der Familie im neunzehnten und zwanzigsten Jahrhundert”, published by the Board of the von Arnim family association, Publishing house Degener & Co., Neustadt/Aisch, 2002, refers to the legend on page 12 paragraph I.2. as follows:

“I.2. Marcus Wagner, of the ancestral line’s knightly dynasty of the von Meyendorff, simple short excerpt, 1581:

In the year 988 the Danes travelled up the river Elte, and ravaged the county of Hadeln. The Saxons not being strong enough to resist them were destroyed, and the castle Neweburg, including the city of Staden, which had been built by Marggraff Siffrid, they besieged and won. And they caught the very same Marggraff together with his brother Dietrichen, besides a lot of other noble people, who they brought to their boats, among whom were Eridagus von Arnym and Virico von der Assaburg, Friedrich von Meyendorff and Edo von der Schulenburg ...
However, the Marggraff Siffrid managed to escape on a fisher’s boat, and with great haste and the help of Bennens the Duke of Saxony and Lüneburg, he assembled his men, managed to free his people out of the hands of the Danes and defeated them, not without hanging some of them and cutting out the eyes of others.

Dr. Gerd H. Zuchold comments on the event as follows:
“This episode has been reported on only by the holsteinian chronicler Peterson. Other sources refer to Thietmar von Merseburg who described this event as have taken place on the 23 June in the year 994. Thietmar reports that Count Heinrich I. of Harsefeld who was called ‘the Bald’ († 976) built, after his father Lothar fell in the battle of Lenzen in the year 929, a castle in the north part of the city of Stade, on a natural hill near to the Schwinge creek, which was the very “Neweburg" mentioned earlier, and contemporary documents praise it as “nobilis” and “praeclarus”, meaning “grand” and “gleaming”. According to Thietmar’s records (Chron. IV. 23ff.), once again there were pirates coming up the river Elbe in beaked ships - other accounts described them as ‘Askomans’, or 'the men with the ash three spears', also as the ‘Normans’. They defeated the Counts of Heilangau, imprisoned the Count Heinrich the Good of Stade and his younger brother Siegfried II. as well as the Count Ethelger of Nordalbingen and held them to ransom. As one of them, Count Siegfried II. escaped, the enemies went after him and “entered a city near to the river bank, called Stade, and started searching for him at the most clandestine places, and as they were not able to find him, they robbed the women’s earrings and returned furiously. The others got equally angry and thus the next morning they took the priest and my cousin and all other hostages and cut off their noses, ears and hands and threw them overboard into the harbour. Then they escaped ...” Count Siegfried II. assembled a new army, campaigned against the intruders and freed the homeland.     
Thietmar von Merseburg reports almost as a contemporary witness, and whether the aforementioned event took place in the year 988 or six years later instead - 994 - does neither have any significance for the understanding of our family’s history nor for general historic interpretations.
In the 20th century three Norman swords were found during excavations in the Schwinge (near by to Stade)creek, which now can be viewed in the city’s (Stade) historic museum. The above described episode from the legend of the Coat of Arms might therefore have its true and historical core in that particular Norman invasion and their defeat.

Translated by Henning von Arnim a. d. H. Lützlow
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