The Germans were the first in Sarona
History of Sarona from the perspective of Israel is remarkable. So many things happened here. Sarona was buzzing with activity even before Tel Aviv came into existence. Back then from Jaffa until Sarona there was nothing at all except some orange trees.
Sarona was, in fact, a swampy area plagued with diseases such as malaria. No one lived there at that time. It took the ingenuity of the German templers to soak up water and fight diseases.
The Germans fought m
alaria & won
As much as 28 templers died of malaria in the first year of their arrival. However, they did not fret. They knew their stuff. The Germans planted eucalyptus trees in the swamp. Eucalyptus is a thirsty tree that can soak up insane amounts of water pretty quickly. The trees helped templers remove the stagnated water in the swampland and thereby fight malaria. Indeed, they survived to tell a story. Sarona is the place in Tel Aviv where the German Templers built their colony.
Templars are religious believers who are members of the Temple Society. They were part of a protestant sect of the Lutheran church. Back in 1868, a group of Christians who disowned the Luthern church came to Israel hoping that redemption will
They felt compelled to believe that they do not need a mediator – church or priests- between them and God. They settled near the Bahai Gardens at a place now known as the German colony.
How did they end up near Sarona market?
A year later, half of the Germans in Haifa moved to Jaffa. They bought the houses of the American Christians who lived there. The Americans left the holy land because it was too difficult for them to live here.
Later in 1871, the Germans settlers bought about 60 hectors of land in Sarona from a Greek monastery where they built the German-styled homes that we see today near the Kaplan street. Back then from Sarona until Jaffa there was nothing at all except some orange trees.
These houses have a basement, a ground floor, first floor, and an attic. – Most other homes in Israel do not have basements. They used locally available materials such as sandstone to build these houses.
Why is this place called Sarona?
When the Germans bought this place they thought that they were in the plains of Sharon near the Yarkon river. In reality, they were a bit north from the plains of Sharon. At any rate, they decided to name to place Sharona, which later became Sarona. Now, the Israelis are still debating whether to call it Sarona or Sharon. How fun!
The Germans were met with a lot of difficulties. The agricultural practices that they learned from Germany were not suitable for Israel. Everything including the soil and the weather was different. In addition, the Sarona area was swampy and was plagued with diseases such as malaria.
As many as 28 Germans died because of malaria during the first year of their arrival in Sarona. But they did not give up like the Americans. They successfully established the colony. They went on to become the first pioneers of modern agriculture in then Ottoman-ruled Palestine and modern Israel.
The successfully cultivated a lot of orange trees, grapes, other fruits and potatoes in the area.
Most of the time, the Germans had good relations with the Jews and the Arabs. The British came to Israel in 1917 and they saw Germans here. They decided to put the Germans in detention camps in Egypt. They were allowed to come back only later in 1920-21.
When they came back to Sarona the Germans saw that everything has changed. The British soldiers used and destroyed their houses. Household equipment and tools were stolen. So they had to reconstruct the colony in Sarona again.
As I mentioned earlier, the templers did not have churches. Instead, they had community houses. Their community house is the showroom of Adidas now.
Everything was good until 1933. Then the Nazis came to power in Germany. As time passed, more and more templers adopted the Nazi ideology, especially the youngsters. The templers as a whole grew less and less religious. The youngsters went to high school in Germany. They even started a branch of the Nazi party in Sarona. So the Nazis were really here in Israel.
In 1939, the second world war started the British decided to arrest all the Germans in Sarona again. As world war progressed and Germany started to control more and more regions in the world, the British decided to expel a few of the templers. But they did not expel them to Egypt as they did last time. The British expelled them really far away to the end of the globe, Australia.
At the end of the second world war, there were a few templers left in Israel and they tried to put pressure on the British government to reconstruct their houses. But the Jews did not want any Germans in here. Even the Jewish paramilitary organization Haganah in 1946 assassinated one of the leaders of German templers. After the establishment of the State of Israel, the few remaining templers left the place to Australia, Germany, and Cyprus.