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The German under this door frame reads: "The spirit and the bride say come, Lord Jesus."
photo by Rhonda Spivak

The German under this door frame reads: " Let your face shine on us."
photo by Rhonda Spivak

Ben-Gurion St in Haifa where all the Templar Homes were built
photo by Rhonda Spivak

The Colony Hotel, originally built in the 1920's in the German Colony
photo by Rhonda Spivak

A restaurant in the German Colony. On the door frame it says in German From Psalm 118: O Lord, help, O Lord, let us succeed.
photo by Rhonda Spivak


by Rhonda Spivak, October 8, 2017

Walking down Ben-Gurion street in Haifa, it is hard to imagine that this was area was once a nerve center for the Nazi party in the 1930's, where Nazi flags could be seen flying. 


The area, known as the German colony was settled in 1868 by German Templers who believed that the Second Coming of Jesus would occur only if they lived in the Holy Land according to Jesus's teachings and those of the biblical prophets. Their mission was to settle the Holy Land and set up an exemplary Christian community. Templers viewed each individual as a small temple, which is why they didn’t build churches, but a community hall instead. They were excommunicated from the Protestant Church in 1858 for their extreme ideas, but later came back into the fold, and built churches. 


Although the buildings that they built as homes are now restored as restaurants and bars mostly, you can still detect German writing at the top of the doors to some of these buildings. (It goes without saying that it is somewhat strange to see German writing such as this in Israel today.)


When the Nazi party rose to power in Germany, there were ripple effects in their expatriate communities, including in British Mandatory Palestine. A branch of the Nazi party was established in Haifa by Templer Karl Ruff in 1933, and other Templer colonies followed suit, including Jerusalem. Younger, less religious Templers were attracted to National Socialism, while the older Templers were more resistant, being afraid that Hitler would overtake Jesus ideologically. Young Templers who had studied in Germany came back to the Holy Land influenced by Nazi zeal. (See:


In 1937, some 34% of the Templers were card-carrying members of the Nazi party, and some enlisted in the German army, leaving the Holy Land. When World War II broke out, the Templers in Haifa suddenly found themselves as citizens of an enemy state living under British rule. The British deported them to Australia and some to Germany. A very interesting piece of information I learned from reading the signage in the German colony today is that some Templers were deported to Germany during World War ll "in exchange for Jews trapped in war torn Europe." (I assume the British negotiated this exchange and wonder how many people it involved, but this information wasn't on the signage).  


At the end of the first world war, the British expelled the Templers from the land but allowed their return in 1921. At the outbreak of World War II some of the young among the German Templers were recruited into the German army and left the country. During the curse of the war many of the remaining settlers were expelled to Australia and Germany, some of them in exchange for Jews who were trapped in war torn Europe. In April 1948, the British evacuated most of those who remained. Through a reparation agreement with the State of Israel and the Federal Republic the German colonists were compensated for loss of property, [note they didn't have any right of return though had been there since 1896]. Most of them live today in Australia and Germany.


The area is definitely worth visiting, just to see the German writing over the doors of the buildings alone. 

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.