When Herzl Wooed The Emperor Of Germany
Follow in the footsteps of Kaiser Wilhem II, whose 1898 visit to Jerusalem didn’t turn out as well as the father of Zionism had hoped.
When Theodor Herzl, the father of modern Zionism, heard that Kaiser Wilhelm II planned to visit Jerusalem, he purchased a ticket of his own. True, the Kaiser, Emperor of Germany and King of Prussia, wasn’t in the least interested in creating a home for the Jews in the land of Israel. But Herzl hoped that if they met on the soil of the Holy Land, he might be able to win him over.
Herzl docked at Jaffa port on October 28, 1898 and traveled by train to Jerusalem. While he spent the next few days biting his nails in anticipation of his meeting, Wilhelm gallivanted around the city. In fact, within the space of a week, the Emperor managed to visit every German institution in Jerusalem, along with the Temple Mount, the Western Wall and the Mount of Olives.
Wilhem began a tour of the Old City tour on October 29. That day, Wilhelm, his wife, and an enormous entourage began making their way through the streets of Jerusalem by horse and by carriage. They proceeded along HaNevi’im Street as far as today’s Davidka Square on Jaffa Road.
Three spectacular gates had been prepared for Wilhelm’s pleasure along that main road. Jewish Gate, the most elaborate and impressive of all three, boasted silk curtains embroidered with silver and gold. Greeting the Kaiser at the gate were the two chief rabbis and dignitaries from the local Jewish community.