The German Colony in Haifa

The German colony

The German Colony in Haifa was founded in 1868 at the foot of Mount Carmel by a group of Protestant Christians from Wurttemberg in Germany called the “Templers”, a name which comes from the word “temple”, referring to the holy temple in Jerusalem. The Templer Movement believed that salvation could take place only by settling in the Holy Land, and that explains the arrival of movement members who established a number of colonies in Palestine (the land of Israel), the first of which was in Haifa. At the beginning, the inhabitants of the colony were farmers but very quickly, their success, stemming from the innovative techniques and professional knowledge they brought with them from Germany motivated the Haifa Arabs to harass the industrious Templers, to destroy their crops and to burn their fields. When continuing to farm became too problematic, the Templers turned to light industry and tourism. Very soon, they began to established small factories, workshops, shops and hotels. On the border of the colony, Catholic nuns set up the first hospital in Haifa. A Jew from Jerusalem who chanced upon the colony noted that the German Christians had built “a splendid city” in his words. One of the inhabitants of the colony was the well known engineer and archaeologist Gottlieb Schumacher, one of the pioneers of archaeology in Israel, leading the first excavations at Tel Megiddo. Schumacher was also the first to do a comprehensive scientific survey of the Golan, the Bashan and the northern Gilead regions. In 1898, the German Kaiser, Wilhelm II travelled to Palestine and the German Colony in Haifa was his first stop. In honor of the Kaiser, a special pier was built which was eventually swallowed up by Haifa port. At the beginning of World War II, the German Colony in Haifa, like other German colonies in Palestine was placed under detention as its inhabitants were citizens of an enemy country. In 1944 the Templers were expelled from the country and the houses of the colony became an abandoned industrial area. In the 1990s, the colony was restored and it is now a recreational and tourist center which includes restaurants, cafes, boutique hotels, a museum and many other buildings along both sides of the street which have been renovated. From the main street of the German colony, the visitor can look up to the Bahai gardens and temple.

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