The German and Greek colonies | The Post Hostel Jerusalem
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    Post News

    The German and Greek colonies

    07-12-2016 |

    Two small neighborhoods that were assimilated between two main streets: Emek Rephaim and
    Bethlehem road. Their restored houses tell a different story of Jerusalem – that of the penetration
    of the European states and Christian communities to the city of Jerusalem at the end of the 19th century,
    from a private person’s standpoint rather than an institutional one. A few public houses were built in
    these areas; these were houses with a communitarian function and not a religious one.
    Almost every private house is decorated with a verse from the Bible on its façade in German, Latin or Greek.

    Who were the German Templars?

    img_20161205_195058No, it’s not a mistake (like flood damage services) these are not the same Templars from
    the crusader period. They are a different religious protestant
    society – Tempelgesellschaft – that was formed during the
    19th century. Their aim was to promote spiritual cooperation
    to advance the rebuilding of the Temple in the Holy Land,
    in the belief that this foundation will promote the second
    coming of Christ.
    They built colonies close to the old city center of Haifa,
    in the Valley of Yezrael, close to Old Jaffa, today’s Sarona area
    in Tel Aviv and near the Old City of Jerusalem.
    They brought with them some of the agricultural industrial
    inventions and modern technologies from Europe.
    They maintained good relationships with both the
    Jews and Muslims who lived in the region.
    The second generation of the Templars left the messianic beliefs and kept their German identity.
    Most of the Templars were considered as regular citizens until the British commissioner,
    at the beginning of the Second World War, changed their status to enemies and they left the area.

    The architecture of the German colony

    Close your eyes and imagine a German countryside village with small two floor villas.
    Now open them and search for some of the original houses of the colony.
    The first building, at Emek Rephaim no.1, is the community house. It was inaugurated in
    1882 in the presence of the Othman governor. The architecture reminds us of a Romanesque chapel.
    But the members of the community were very careful to not call it a church or a temple.
    That is the reason that the apsis is facing North and not East like most of the churches in the world.
    On top of the pediment there is a small bell tower. Most of the private houses have a simple façade
    decorated with verses from the Old Testament.

    img_20161205_194810Frank’s house, built in 1873, at Emek Repahim no.3, is also
    called Ebenezer house because “The men of Israel rushed out
    of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines… Then Samuel took
    a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it
    Ebenezer…” Samuel 1, ch 7, 11-12. This house had the first
    private swimming pool. Zendel’s house, located across the
    street at no.9, is decorated with a statue of an old sleepy lion
    above the main door. The lion was the family’s pharmacy
    symbol back in Germany. They were very involved with the
    construction of the German institutions in the city (the
    Dormition church, Lemel orphaned school and the leper
    house). Landuerhut house, at no.7, which has simple
    architectonical elements (rounded windows and small
    balconies), was the first pub of the neighborhood.
    The basement floor was used as the wine cellar.
    The second generation houses, the Templars of the twenties, were much more impressive.
    They built in the Jugendstil but in Jerusalem stone, that became more and more popular over time.
    A good example is the Ahman house on the corner of Bethlehem road and Karmia Street.
    The original metal work is typical of this German Art Novae style.

     

    Nazis in Jerusalem

    img_20161205_134225Some of the houses in the colony tell a different story from
    1929: That of one of the Nazi party members.
    The Lyceum or school, located at Emek Rephaim no. 3 and 5,
    were built in 1882. The clock on the façade shows the German
    accuracy. Up until the twenties, children studied religion.
    After the up rise of the Nazis these classes became political
    studies. House no. 12, called Eimberguer house,
    had its antenna changed at the end of the seventies.
    During these works a couple of old boxes were discovered with
    Nazi uniforms, flags and posters. The most interesting story
    belongs to the house at 4 Lloyd George Street,
    known today as Smadar Cinema.
    Gotlib Buirila built the house in cement without using the local
    stone.
    img_20161207_124501In 1928 most of the clients were Jews and British soldiers.
    In 1934, after refusing to screen Nazi propaganda films,
    Buirila rented it out to a Jew. Belkind changed the name to
    Efret to attract the citizens of the city.
    The head of the Nazi party in the region was furious about it.
    Buirila took back the cinema hoping that things would work
    out eventually. The cinema was eventually closed in 1942.
    In the same year the British assembled most of the German
    citizens in Sarona colony (today in Tel Aviv) and exchanged
    them with important, high class Jews from the concentration
    camp of Bergan-Belsen. In the house at Emek Rephaim no.16,
    lived Christian Emberger who was a carpenter.
    He was forgotten by the British authorities during the
    exchanges and again during the Independence war of 1948.
    He was the only member of the Nazi party who witnessed the creation of the State of Israel through
    his own eyes. Only in 1952 was he banished to Australia by the Israeli authorities.

    The Greek Colony

    In 1900, a couple of Greek Orthodox families decided to settle down in the renovated part of the city.
    The Greek Orthodox Church purchased an amount of properties and only here used them for their
    own population. 25 new houses were built to accommodate a number of wealthy families who arrived
    from Greece. Even though the settlers were very religious, there was no church in the new neighborhood.
    They preferred to walk to San Simon church in Katamon or to the Old City’s churches.
    The architecture reminds us a lot of a green village on the country side of Greece with one or two floor villas.
    Some of the interesting buildings to see are the Greek club house, Yuniadis house, Herupas house and some
    more in Emek Rephaim Street and Ben Non Street. During 1948, most of the Greek citizens escaped
    to the monasteries of the old city and from there back to Greece.

    How to get here from the Post hostel?

    You begin from Post hostel in Jerusalem here:

    By foot: leaving the hostel, turn right to Queen Shlomziyon Street. Cross the main junction and keep on walking in King David street. When its ending take the road on your right to Derech Beit Lehem and in
    front of the First Station keep right to Emek Repahim street.

    By bus: from the corner of Jaffa Road and King George street take bus number 77 or 34 to Emek Repahim.

     

     

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