Israeli history photo of the week: German emperor

JPost special feature: Library of Congress collection of photos documenting Israel before the creation of state.

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November 1, 2012 10:03
1 minute read.

1898 German emperor visits Jerusalem. (photo credit: American Colony-Jerusalem-Photo Dep)

 
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The Library of Congress has recently digitalized a collection of over 10,000 photographs, taken by the "American Colony" in Jerusalem, a group of Christian utopians who lived in Jerusalem between 1881 and the 1940s. The photographers returned to the US, and bequeathed their massive collection to the Library of Congress in 1978. The collection includes Winston Churchill's visit to Jerusalem, Jewish expulsions from the Old City during Arab riots, and the building of Tel Aviv.

The German Emperor's visit to Jerusalem on October 29, 1898 was a major historic event, reflecting the geopolitical competition between the German Empire, Russia, France and the British Empire. Emperor Wilhelm II and his wife were received with open arms by the Ottomans collapsing under the weight of centuries of corruption and still reeling from the aftermath of the costly Crimean War of the 1850s.

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Preparations were undertaken throughout Turkish-controlled Palestine: roads were paved, waterworks installed, electrical and telegraph lines laid, and sanitation measures -- seen today as basic -- were implemented. The Turks even breached the Old City walls near Jaffa Gate to construct a road for the Emperor's carriages.

The Jews of Jerusalem were caught up in the excitement. Some of the Jews with ties to Europe were actually under the Emperor's protection. Others expected to benefit from the Emperor's largess. And still others wanted the opportunity to recite a rarely said blessing upon seeing a king, according to David Yellin, a Jerusalem intellectual who described the visit in his diary.

The Jewish community constructed a large and richly adorned welcome arch to receive the Emperor. The arch was located on Jaffa Road (near today's Clal Building) and bore the Hebrew and German title, "Welcome in the name of the Lord."

More photos can be viewed at www.israeldailypicture.com

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