German Colony

The German Colony is a southern neighborhood in Jerusalem. It was built by members of the German Temple Society. In 1873, after establishing colonies in Haifa and Jaffa, members of the Templer sect from Württemberg, Germany, 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. The Templars were Christians who broke away from the Protestant church and encouraged their members to settle in the Holy Land to prepare for Messianic salvation. 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.[3] 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 British Mandatory government deported the German Templers during World War II. As Germans, they were considered enemy citizens. The side streets of the German Colony are named for Gentile supporters of Zionism and the Jewish people. Apart from the French author Émile Zola, Czech president Tomas Masaryk, and South African prime minister Jan Smuts, many of the streets are named for Britons: Liberal Prime Minister David Lloyd George, Britsh Labour Party MP Josiah Wedgwood, H.M. Emperor Charles I of Austria-Hungary, Colonel John Henry Patterson, commander of the Jewish Legion in World War I and the pro-Zionist British general Wyndham Deedes. Today Emek Refaim is one of the most popular streets in Jerusalem, with a cosmopolitan flavour, fashion boutiques, restaurants and coffee houses bustling with life. The area is next to main cultural spots such as the Jerusalem Theater, Jerusalem’s Cinematheque and the Natural Science Museum. Next to Emek Refaim is the old train station that reopened in 2013 as HaTahana HaRishona ("The First Station"), a culture and entertainment venue. The 4,000 sqm rail yard now features wooden decks, food stalls and umbrella-topped vendor carts. Several restaurants and pubs have opened in the area, and an exhibition of historic photographs is displayed inside the station house. The site will host musical, literary and artistic events, and adjoins a bike path that links it to the Train Track Park, a walking and cycling path built along the route of the old train tracks. The German Colony has two high schools, an elementary school, a variety of preschools, medical centres, community centres and various synagogues of various denominations, due to the many olim hadashim in the area from Europe and the United States.