Visiting the German Colony
The German Colony is today part of Haifa. The colony is located in Ben Gurion Street and the surrounding area. For free maps and information about the Haifa, visit the Haifa Tourist Board in 48 Ben Gurion Street. Most of the colony’s buildings are today popular bars, restaurants and hotels.
The history of the German Colony
There is no other place in the world where a settlement of a few hundred Germans resulted in so many stories. Haifa, where they built their first settlement, is a good place to introduce the Templers. The name of the movement itself – The Templers – already tells us something about them. The Templers viewed each individual as a small temple. This is why they didn’t have churches, but a community hall instead. They believed that the Second Coming of Jesus would occur only if they lived in the Holy Land according to the morals of Jesus and the biblical prophets. Because of their extreme ideas, they were excommunicated from the Protestant Church in 1858. Ten years later, in 1868, they fulfilled their dream and established their first colony in Haifa. Using modern techniques and machinery, they tried to farm the land. However, they were harassed and plundered from by the local Arabs community and eventually abandoned agriculture. The Templers began working in tourism and handicrafts. They initiated regular carriage services between cities, offered clean hotels, and were the first to use engines in their workshops.
Over the years, they lost their messianic fervor and began seeing themselves less as an avant-garde force that would hasten the Second Coming of Jesus and more as Germans living outside of Germany. They returned to the fold of the Protestant Church and erected churches in some of their settlements. In the 1930s, some sympathized with the Nazi movement and enlisted in the German army. When World War II broke out, they suddenly found themselves as citizens of an enemy state living under British rule. Some were deported to Australia and some to Germany. Today there are two Templer communities, one in Melbourne and one in Stuttgart.
The Templers are long gone, but their stone houses still stand. In the 1952 Reparation Agreement signed between Israel and West Germany, the amount to be paid to the Templers for their property was deducted from the reparation payments. Today, Haifa’s German Colony is a recreational area hosting many restaurants, bars, and cafés.