The German Colony in Palestine

Wednesday, 27 May 2015 - 01:00 pm (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, Union for the Mediterranean
Reading Time:  21 minutes

German Colony Jerusalem - Templer Communal House © Shayzu/cc-by-sa-3.0

German Colony Jerusalem – Templer Communal House © Shayzu/cc-by-sa-3.0

The Templers, a religious Protestant sect formed in southern Germany in the 19th century, settled in Palestine at the urging of their leader, Christoff Hoffman, in the belief that living in the Holy Land would hasten the second coming of Christ. The Templers built a colony in keeping with strict urban planning principles and introduced local industries that brought modernity to Palestine, which had long been neglected by the Ottomans. They were the first to organize regular transportation services between Jaffa, Acre and Nazareth, which also allowed for mail delivery. In 1874 the Christian denomination of the Temple Society underwent a schism and later envoys of the Evangelical State Church of Prussia’s older Provinces successfully proselytised among the schismatics, making up about a third of the colonists. Thus the Colony became a place of partisans of two different Christian denominations and their respective congregations.

Inhalt

While in Germany the Templers were regarded sectarians, the Evangelical proselytes gained major financial and mental support from German Lutheran and Evangelical church bodies. This created an atmosphere of mistrust and envy among the German colonists in Haifa. On July 17, 1886 the proselytes appealed to the Supreme Church Council of the State Church of Prussia’s older Provinces to be accepted as and helped to found an Evangelical congregation. In 1891 the Jerusalemsverein (English: Association of Jerusalem), a Berlin-based Evangelical charitable organisation to subsidise Protestant activities in the Holy Land, decided to support the new Haifa congregation. The colony’s oranges were the first to carry a Jaffa Orange brand, one of the better known agricultural brands in Europe, used to market Israeli oranges to this day. The Templers established a regular coach service between Haifa and the other cities, promoting the country’s tourist industry, and made an important contribution to road construction. In 1939, at the start of World War II, the British authorities declared the Templers enemy nationals, placed them under arrest and deported many of them to Australia. During the war the British government brokered the exchange of about 1000 Templers for 550 Jews under German control. “The swap”, Bauer stresses, “stemmed primarily from British and German interests: Just as the British wanted to get the Germans out, Germany was happy for the chance to rid itself of a few hundred more Jews. The exchange, however, was not an even one. The number of Germans deported from Palestine was greater than the number of incoming Jews.”


German Colony Haifa © Deror avi

German Colony Haifa © Deror avi

Haifa

The Jerusalemsverein sent and sponsored a teacher for the congregants’ children. In 1892 the Jerusalemsverein decided to lend the congregation the money needed to build a prayer hall. Otto Fischer (1813–1910), a Haifa resident, donated the land at the foot of Mount Carmel, and the Haifa engineer Ernst August Voigt gratuitously drew the constructions plans. In September 1892 the constructions started and pastor Carl Schlicht (Jerusalem) inaugurated the community centre, including a prayer hall and two school rooms, on July 2, 1893. Starting in the same year the Jerusalemsverein sponsored a pastor for the new Haifa Evangelical Congregation. Employing modern farming methods, the Templers introduced soil fertilization, better methods of crop rotation and new crops such as potatoes. They imported agricultural machinery and engaged in “mixed farming,” combining dairy farming and field crops. Registering the land was problematic due to back taxes and local boundary disputes, which sometimes turned violent. The Templers thus abandoned farming in favor of industry and tourism. They built hotels, opened workshops and established an olive oil soap factory. The affluent German colony stood out in its poor surroundings. The only doctor in the city lived there, and one of the residents was a construction engineer. By the end of the Ottoman era the colony had 750 inhabitants, 150 houses and dozens of businesses. The colony was the first model of urban planning in Palestine, with a main street running from north to south (today, Ben-Gurion Boulevard), leading down to the harbor. Smaller streets branched out from the main street. At the southern end of the colony were the Templer vineyards (where the Bahá’í World Centre stands today). The colony was built as a garden city with single-family homes surrounded by gardens and shade trees lining the main boulevard. The colonists built the pier in Haifa, so the town became a port city. In 1906, the settlers from Haifa founded a small colony in Bethlehem. Some of the old Templer homes in Haifa have been restored in recent years. Buildings along Ben Gurion Boulevard have been turned into cafes, boutiques and restaurants, and the colony has become a center of Haifa nightlife. Read more on touristisrael.com – Haifa’s German Colony and Wikipedia German Colony Haifa.




View from Rechov Auerbach towards Rechov Beer-Hoffmann with Immanuel Church and typical wooden houses of the American colonists © Ori~/cc-by-sa-3.0

View from Rechov Auerbach towards Rechov Beer-Hoffmann with Immanuel Church and typical wooden houses of the American colonists © Ori~/cc-by-sa-3.0

Jaffa

Founded in the 19th century by the American Protestant, Christian Restorationismmovement, led by George J. Adams and Abraham McKenzie. They and more colonists from Maine had arrived on 22 September 1866 in Jaffa. They founded the American Colony, named Amelican, or Adams City in English. They erected their wooden houses from prefabricated pieces, which they had brought with them. However, diseases, the climate, the insecure and arbitrary treatment by the Ottoman authorities, made many colonists willing to remigrate to Maine. In 1867 and 1868 the German Peter Martin Metzler, then leading a Protestant mission in Jaffa for the Swiss St. Chrischona Pilgrims Mission, helped the American colonists to sell their real estate, also buying himself much of it. On 5 March 1869 Metzle sold many of the houses on to newly arriving settlers from the Kingdom of Württemberg. In 1873 the Templers erected the Tempelstift, i.e. the main office of the Temple Society, including also a school and a community hall, on then Seestraße 11 (i.e. Sea street; now renamed and renumbered Rehov Auerbach 8), most likely following plans of the architect Theodor Sandel, one of their fellow faithful. In May 1878 the Templers moved these institutions to the German Colony in the Rephaim valley near Jerusalem and sold the Tempelstift building to the Russian-born German-naturalised Plato von Ustinow, one of Metzler’s proselytes. Ustinov extended the building by one more floor, reopened it as Hôtel du Parc and moved into the new top floor. Ustinov employed Bekhôr Nissîm ʾElhâdîf, an alumnus of the Miqveh Yisra’el agricultural school. ʾElhâdîf bought exotic plants and trees from all over the world in order to develop the garden of Ustinov’s hotel into a botanical park. In 1879 Ustinov opened on the first floor of his hotel a museum exhibiting his growing collection of antiquities from the Holy Land. After the restitution of the Hôtel du Parc from public custody Magdalena Hall (1868–1945), Ustinov’s widow, could dispose of it again and sold it in 1926 to the London Society for Promoting Christianity Among the Jews. Today its successor organisation, the Church’s Ministry Among Jewish People (CMJ), operates in the former hotel the Beit Immanuel (Immanuel House), a mission, a pilgrims hostel and a community centre. The Maine Friendship House is a small, New England style, wooden, clapboard house located on 10 Auerbach Street. It was built in 1866 by a small group of Christian restorationists from Maine who had emigrated to Israel in the hope of preparing the land for the Jews to return and thereby hastening the coming of the Christian Messiah. It was saved from demolition on February 14, 2002. Immanuel Church is a Protestant church. It was built in 1904. In 1955, the Lutheran World Federation transferred control of the church to the Norwegian Church Ministry to Israel. Read more on Wikipedia American–German Colony.




German Colony Sarona - Kaplan Street © Sambach/cc-by-sa-2.5

German Colony Sarona – Kaplan Street © Sambach/cc-by-sa-2.5

Sarona

Sarona was a German Templer colony, which is now a neighborhood of Tel Aviv. It was one of the earliest modern villages established in Palestine. The Templer settlement of Sarona was one of the first modern agricultural settlements in Palestine and became a model for the Jewish pioneers. In August 1871, the Templers purchased 60 hectares of land from a Greek monastery north of Jaffa. Part of the Plains of Sharon (after which it was named), near the River Audsche (Yarkon), it was four kilometres from Jaffa. In October 1871, the foundation stones were laid for the first houses, 30 years before Theordor Herzl came up with the idea of a Jewish State in Palestine. Extreme hardship and disease took a heavy toll in human life during the first few years. Malaria caused the deaths of 28 of the 125 settlers of Sarona in 1872 alone. In an effort to dry the marshy land, 1,300 eucalyptus trees were planted. By 1889, 269 people lived in Sarona. There were 41 homes, a communal hall, a winery, workshops, barns and sheds. The Sarona colonists brought modern farming tools and practices to the Holy Land. They focused on crops and products they could readily sell. This “agriculture-for-profit” was an economic innovation in a land that for centuries had practiced only self-sustaining farming. Grain crops and dairy industry first, then orchards and vineyards were planted. Faced with a shortage of financial resources for infrastructure development, the community introduced Frondienst, a compulsory work system where every male member was required to do a certain number of hours of community work each month. The building of roads, development of land, roads and drainage and community facilities could thus be scheduled. Researcher and author Sven Hedin wrote of his visit to Sarona in 1916: “…many plants were in blossom. They mainly grow grapes, oranges and vegetables, [but] like in old times they also produce milk and honey.” In 1948, when the British Mandate ended and British troops left Sarona, the old houses and army barracks were used by the newly formed Israeli government as offices. The area became known as the Kirya. A part became a military compound, comprising the Israeli Ministry of Defense, the General Staff of the Israeli Defense Forces, and various other military installations. Other parts of former Sarona were used to house other ministries of the Israeli government. With the rapid growth of Tel Aviv, the Kirya became prime real-estate in the heart of the city. When plans for redeveloping the area were proposed in the mid-1970s, preservationists successfully campaigned against demolition. Consulting with historians, it was decided that Sarona was of heritage value and that 18 structures with distinct architectural styles would be preserved. Civil government departments were moved out of the Sarona’s low buildings and into a single high office building erected at its eastern end. During the widening of Kaplan Street, Sarona’s main thoroughfare, considerable effort was made to move the historic buildings intact. These are destined to become an area of cafés and recreation. A high-rise headquarters building was also erected in the military section, though historic buildings in the compound remain in IDF use. One of the most important buildings in Sarona was the community house, Beit Hava’ad. The cornerstone of the building was laid in 1871, three years after the Templers arrived from Germany. The building was dedicated in early 1873 and housed the local school. After the Nazis came to power and Sarona became a Nazi stronghold, the swastika flew over the building for seven years. In 1943, Irgun fighters planted a bomb near the building, lightly wounding six residents, one of them Gotthilf Wagner, the mayor of Sarona and a fervent Nazi activist. When the British left Tel Aviv in 1947, a Haganah brigade camped there. The building was renamed for squad commander Carmi Rabinowitz, who was killed in action. In July 1948, after the founding of the state, it became a post office. During restoration work in 2005, the iron mechanism of the old carillon clock that adorned the facade was discovered. In 2006, the clock was displayed at the Eretz Israel Museum as part of an exhibit on the Templers. A descendant of the Templers who was visiting Israel recognized the signature of the manufacturer, the Perrot Company of Calw, Germany. After contacts with the firm, a new clock was made to replace the old one, and the original clock, now repaired, will be displayed at a visitors’ center. Read more on touristisrael.com – Sarona German Colony, Times of Israel, 18 June 2016: Sarona: From Templers, to Nazis, government, terror and, hopefully, to tranquility and Wikipedia Sarona German Colony.




German Colony Jerusalem © Adam Jones/cc-by-sa-2.0

German Colony Jerusalem © Adam Jones/cc-by-sa-2.0

Jerusalem

The German Colony is a neighborhood in West Jerusalem, established in the second half of the 19th century. Today the Moshava, as it is popularly known, is a hip and upscale neighborhood bisected by Emek Refaim Street, an avenue lined with trendy shops, restaurants and cafes. One of the houses in the neighborhood is home to the multilingual online newspaper The Times of Israel. In 1873, after establishing colonies in Haifa and Jaffa, members of the Templer sect settled on a large tract of land in the Refaim Valley, southwest of the Old City of Jerusalem. The land was purchased by one of the colonists, Matthäus Frank, from the Arabs of Beit Safafa. They built their homes in the style to which they were accustomed in Germany – farmhouses of one or two stories, with slanting tiled roofs and shuttered windows, but using local materials such as Jerusalem stone instead of wood and bricks. The colonists engaged in agriculture and traditional trades such as carpentry and blacksmithing. Their homes ran along two parallel streets that would become Emek Refaim and Bethlehem Road. The abandoned homes in the German Colony and other parts of Katamon were used to house new immigrants. Since the end of the 20th century, the neighborhood of West Jerusalem has undergone a process of gentrification. Efforts are being made to restore old landmark buildings and incorporate some of their architectural features, such as arched windows and tiled roofs, in new construction. Numerous cafes, bars, restaurants, and boutiques have opened in the neighborhood, and many affluent families have moved there, pushing up the price of real estate. The German Colony has a large English-speaking population, with the English speaking community comprising both families and singles, permanent immigrants and visitors. The neighborhood is home to the Smadar Theater, Jerusalem’s arthouse cinema and a perennial gathering place for the artisterati. The colorful history of the German Colony is illustrated by the mix of architectural styles found within a relatively small area. One finds Swabian-style homes, examples of late provincial Ottoman architecture and British Art Deco from the Mandatory period, within close proximity. An example of British architecture is the Scottish Hospice and St Andrew’s Church, built in 1927, decorated with local Armenian tilework. Some of the Templer homes have biblical inscriptions in German on their lintels, in Fraktur script. Read more on gojerusalem.com – German Colony Jerusalem and Wikipedia German Colony Jerusalem.




Renovated Templer house in Bnei Atarot © צילום:ד"ר אבישי טייכר/cc-by-2.5

Renovated Templer house in Bnei Atarot © צילום:ד”ר אבישי טייכר/cc-by-2.5

Wilhelma

Wilhelma-Hamîdije was named in honour of King William II of Württemberg, Emperor Wilhelm II and Sultan Abdul Hamid II, however, only the first half of the name prevailed. Wilhelma was established by German settlers in 1902. The colony produced dairy goods and wine in collaboration with the German colony at Sarona. What is now Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport was originally named “Wilhelma Airport” when it was built in 1936 near the Templer community. Wilhelma is now the site of the Israeli locality of Bnei Atarot. Many buildings of the Templars have survived and have been renovated. The proximity of Tel Aviv metropolitan area has led to suburbanization and rural character of the village gradually decreased. In the late 1990s a new residential neighborhood was built on the northeastern edge of the moshav, consisting of private homes. Recently, the proximity of Ben Gurion International Airport has led to some residents being evacuated due to noise concerns.

Nearly everything that is attributed today to the so-called “modern, Jewish state” actually found its origin in the German colonies in Palestine. In addition to craftsmanship and the then state-of-the-art technologies, this included fruit, vegetables and wine growing, which was revolutionized by the German settlers and led to previously unknown qualities and harvest quantities, which still shape the agriculture industry in the region today (whereby Israelis have not only taken over the German fruit, vegetable and wine-growing methods, but later also the Syrian methods in the Golan Heights). In addition to numerous renewals and improvements that the German settlers brought to Palestine and thus led the region in the 19th century, among other things, the White City of Tel Aviv and the port of Haifa go back to the initiatives of German Christians. Today, there is still a vast number of existing German settler buildings all over Israel. Inspired by the successes and the will to modernize the region by German Christians, Theodor Herzl finally came to the conclusion to be able to dare the colonization of Palestine by Jews within the framework of the modern political Zionism concept. The German building materials imported into Israel during the Nazi era as part of the so-called Haavara Agreement can still be found today in many houses in Israel. In a sense, the Jews who migrated to Palestine, under whatever circumstances, never actually left Germany – however, the weather was/is usually better in Palestine/Israel (Haaretz, 25 October 2019: ‘Tel Aviv Was Built With Raw Materials From Nazi Germany’, Times of Israel, 2 December 2019: The Nazi secret lurking inside some of Tel Aviv’s most beautiful buildings).

Read more on Wikipedia Wilhelma and BBC, 12 July 2013: The Templers: German settlers who left their mark on Palestine (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.


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