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Why Was a Nazi Flag Flying from a Jerusalem Hotel in the 1930s?
We recently published pictures from the British Library's Endangered Archives Program, including this incredible picture of Jaffa Gate of Jerusalem's Old City which we have dated to the mid-1890s. Only in 1898 was the wall near Jaffa Gate breached so that carriages could drive into the city.

Jaffa Gate and A(braham) Fast's restaurant.  (Debbas Collection, British Library)

We wanted to know more about the store on the left with the sign "A Fast. Restauranteur."  Was this a tourist establishment of Abraham Fast, who in 1907 took over a large hotel several hundred meters to the west of the building pictured above and renamed it "Hotel Fast?"

German troops marching in Jerusalem on Good Friday, 
April 6, 1917. The building on the left is 
the Fast Hotel. (Imperial War Museum, UK)

It was a leading hotel with 100 rooms, built around a court yard with Ionic, Corinthian and Doric columns.

Hotel Fast and its kosher restaurant was a well-known establishment in Jerusalem for decades, and was probably considered by many to be a Jewish-owned establishment because of its Jewish clientele.

Nothing could be further from the truth.  The Fasts were German Templers.

The German consulate in the Fast Hotel, 1933. 
(Wikimedia, Tamar Hayardeni)

They lived in Jerusalem's German Colony and were exiled by the British after World War I and during World War II because of their support for Germany.

We recently uncovered pictures of German troops marching in Jerusalem streets on Good Friday 1917. Readers were able to identify the building on the left as the Fast Hotel.

Our biggest surprise was finding this picture of the German consulate in the Hotel Fast with the German Swastika flag flying from the building.

During World War II, the hotel was taken over by the British army command and turned into the Australian army club.

The Hotel Fast housed Australian soldiers in World War II.  Here they are greeting the Australian 
Prime Minister Robert Menzies and the commander of the Australian troops in Australia, 
Lt. Gen. Thomas Blamey in February 1941. The Matson Photo Service, shown on the ground 
floor, was run by Eric Matson, originally from the American Colony Photographic Department. 
 Matson left Palestine in 1946 for the United States.  His collection of photos was 
bequeathed to the Library of Congress where many of the pictures in this 
website were found.  (Library of Congress

The Hotel Fast building was abandoned in 1967 and torn down in 1976 to make way for the Dan Pearl Hotel.

Painting of Jews Arriving to Ottoman Empire in 1492 Posted by the Ottoman Imperial Archives

The Ottoman Imperial Archives continues to release amazing pictures, photos and documents from the rich Ottoman history.  The painting below is the latest example. We thank the archivists for their wonderful work which can be seen on Twitter @OttomanArchive as well as the archives' website.
A reader sent us a new link for the painting with a slightly higher resolution. The writing
still cannot be read but it is clearly written in Hebrew and identifies the
dignitaries meeting with the Jewish elders

The modern-day caption says "More than 150,000 Spanish Jews Fled the Spanish Inquisition and Brought to the Ottoman Empire in 1492."  The painting shows Jews who escaped the Spanish expulsion and rabbis getting off their ship and meeting dignitaries.

The online reproduction is of low resolution and we cannot read writing on the bottom left of the painting. We have unsuccessfully searched for other copies or details that would indicate when the painting was drawn and the artist. 

We appeal to readers for suggestions and assistance.

A Major 19th Century Photo Collection Rescued and Digitized by the British Library's Endangered Archives Program
A preview of Bonfils' photographs

Three thousand pictures taken by the Maison Bonfils photographers of Beirut from 1867 to the 1910s are part of the private Fouad Debbas collection in Beirut. Last year, the collection was digitized and posted online by the British Library's Endangered Archives Program

We have posted several Bonfils' photographs in the past from the Library of Congress, Getty, and New York Public Library collections. But nowhere in the world has such an extensive collection of Bonfils' photographs been collected and made public.  We thank the Debbas family and Ms. Jody Butterworth, the curator of the British Library's Endangered Archives Programme, for their efforts.

We present here just a preview of this very important collection:

Jews praying at the "Wailing Wall" (Debbas Collection, British Library)
Rachel's Tomb on the way to Bethlehem (Debbas Collection, British Library)

Rachel's Tomb, not the village of Sanur

Elsewhere in the Debbas Collection this picture is captioned "Village of Sanur in the modern-day West Bank."

Obviously, it is another Bonfils photo of Rachel's Tomb.

The bustling Jaffa Gate outside of Jerusalem's Old City. The Hotel Fast was built in 1891. The photo was
taken prior to 1898 when a breach was made in the wall for the German Emperor's carriages.
(Debbas Collection, British Library)
We plan to present more of the collection in coming weeks accompanied by our historical essays.

Click on pictures to enlarge. Click on caption link to view the original.

American "Manifest Destiny" Heads to the Holy Land in 1847

WW100: The Soldiers of Australia Meet the Jews of Jerusalem, 1918

As the British-commanded ANZAC troops moved north after the battle of Be'er Sheva they were greeted as liberators by the Jews of Palestine. New Zealanders were hosted by the Jews of Rishon LeZion, and Australians entered Jerusalem with General Allenby at the end of December 1917.

The picture below was taken by Bugler J. F. Smith of the 7th Light Horse. "Enlisted 11 October, 1914. Home on ANZAC Furlough in October, 1918."

Australian soldiers at the Western Wall
These pictures of Jews of Jaffa and holy sites were taken by "R. F. Ingham, 1st L."

Jewish Children at Simon's Well in Jaffa  (Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales)

Jewish School in Jaffa  (Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales)

Rachel's Tomb near Bethlehem (Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales)
The Armenian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. In the background is the Jewish Quarter with the
prominent domes of the Tiferet Yisrael and the Hurva synagogues
(Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales)
The Jaffa Gate of the Old City and the Turkish
clock tower.  Who are the group of men in front?
 (New South Wales Museum)

After enlarging the photo, it appears the men are
Orthodox Jews

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