History of the Temple Society


A Time-Line covering historical highlights of the Temple Society


  • 1854 
    In July, the Pietists Christoph Hoffmann, Christoph Paulus, Georg David Hardegg and Louis Höhn from the boarding school "Salon" in Ludwigsburg, Germany, form a volunteer committee for "The Collection of the People of God".
    On 24 August about 200 sympathisers establish in Ludwigsburg the "Society for the gathering of the People of God in Jerusalem".
    On 31 October 439 members of the "Society" sign a petition to the German Federal Assembly, asking for government support for a settlement in Palestine on the model of the first apostolic community. The proposed plan to be made "a matter for the German Nation".

  • 1855
    "Draft Constitution of the People of God" published by Christoph Hoffmann. It is a call to Christians and Jews to support the gathering of the People of God in Jerusalem.
    The hymn "Trachtet, ruft mit ernstem Worte..." composed by Christoph Hoffmann (later chosen as theme-song of the Templers).

  • 1856
    In February the hamlet Kirschenhardthof at Erbstetten is purchased. The town becomes the new focus of the reform movement.  Opening of three educational institutions

  • 1858
    On 14 March a committee to explore the possibilities of settlement in Palestine visits Jaffa in the Holy Land; members Chr Hoffmann, DG Hardegg and J. Bubeck report back on 8 September in the Kursaal in Bad Cannstatt

  • 1859
    Christoph Hoffmann and - shortly thereafter - the whole community Kirschenhardthof is expelled from the Evangelical Church

  • 1860
    On February 8 around 400 participants attend the first synod of the Jerusalem's Friends in Kirschenhardthof. An appeal against the expulsion from the Church is lodged with King William I of Württemberg.

  • 1861
    At a preparatory meeting on 19-20 June for the third synod, 64 men decide to establish an independent religious organization with the name "German Temple". A 12 man "Council of Elders" is elected, which Christoph Hoffmann as "Bishop" leads. DG Hardegg still leads the "Committee for the construction of the Temple in Jerusalem"

  • 1863
    In Buffalo USA a community of "Templers in America" is formed, led by a committee consisting of WF Schwilk, C. Kiesel and A. Struve.

  • 1867
    Frustrated by the numerous delays a few Templer families venture on their own to Palestine, to try and establish agricultural settlements. The first houses were built in Chnefiß and Samunieh, on the western slopes of the hills of Nazareth. Large difficulties ensued. 15 people succumb to the unhealthy conditions, illness and lack of organization.
    Hardegg travels to the Henri Dunant, the founder of the Red Cross in Paris, to ask for help with mediation in the acquisition of residential land in Palestine, then still part of the Ottoman Empire

  • 1868
    On 26 July, after a farewell meeting at the Kirschenhardthof, attended by over one thousand participants, Christoph Hoffmann and DG Hardegg with their families leave for Haifa in Palestine.
    Templer communities are formed in the North Caucasus at Tempelhof and Orbeljanowka along the Kuma; also in the Mennonite colonies Wohldemfürst and Alexanderfeld on the Kuban.

  • 1869
    On 23 September the foundation is laid for the first building in the Templer colony Haifa.
    Christoph Hoffmann takes over the new Templer colony in Jaffa, created from an abandoned American settlement.
    A Templer hospital is started under the direction of the physician Dr. Gottlob Sandel 

  • 1870
    Hoffmann publishes his script "On the Foundations of a lasting Peace" and develops his ideas of a "new religion"

  • 1871
    On October 18 the foundation stones are laid for the first houses of the Sarona colony near Jaffa.

  • 1873
    At Rephaim in Jerusalem a start is made on another Templer settlement
    In October the headquarters of the Society is moved from Kirschenhardthof to Stuttgart

  • 1875
    Christoph Hoffmann publishes "Orient and Occident"; a cultural consideration with a summary of the Faith of the Templers and a description of the settlement vision.

  • 1877
    Hoffmann publishes three "Sendschreiben" in which he deals with church teachings, dogmas and sacraments, which he declares as non-binding for the Temple Society.
    The publication "Süddeutsche Warte" changes its name to "Warte des Tempels" and is now the voice of the Temple Society.

  • 1878
    In Spring Christoph Hoffmann moves to Jerusalem and relocates the headquarters of the Society and the Secondary School "Lyceum Tempelstift" to there; completing a major part of his vision

  • 1881
    Christoph Hoffmann, his son, Dr. Samuel Hoffmann and Consul Jakob Schumacher undertake a trip to the North American Templer towns

  • 1884
    Christoph Paulus succeeds Christoph Hoffmann as Head of the Society.

  • 1885
    On 8 December Christoph Hoffmann dies in Jerusalem
    The Templer Community Tempelfeld is founded in Kansas USA (now called Gypsum)

  • 1889
    The first Templer hymn book is published

  • 1890
    Paulus retires from the leadership of the Temple Society
    Christoph Hoffmann II, a son of the founder, is elected as the new President.
    In a General Meeting the Temple Society Constitution is finalised and adopted

  • 1892
    Jaffa’s branch community Walhalla is founded.

  • 1893
    Split of the "Free Templers" of Haifa over disagreements on goal and task of the Temple Society.

  • 1897
    Loss of Tempelhof and Orbeljanowka settlements in the Caucasus region initiating a move to the new Olgino and Romanowka settlements in Suchaja-Padina-Steppe
    "Neuhardthof" is founded as a branch of the Templer Community Haifa.
    In April the "Free Templers" re-join the Haifa Templer community

  • 1898
    Kaiser Wilhelm II visits Palestine, landing in Haifa. The German settlers host a reception for the imperial couple. In Jaffa the monarch is presented with an album containing paintings of the Temples colonies by the artist Bauernfeind

  • 1900
    On May 14 the "Society for the Promotion of German Settlements in Palestine" is formed (an initiative by the Baron of Ellrichshausen with benevolent endorsement by King William II), with a starting capital of 128,500 Mark

  • 1903
    On April 13 the new Templer colony "Hamidije-Wilhelma" (near Jaffa) is founded.

  • 1906
    On15 September the Templer colony "Betlehem" (in Galilee) is established

  • 1909
    An agricultural school is created in Wilhelma

  • 1911
    Christoph Hoffmann II dies on January 10. His former deputy Christian Rohrer is elected as the new President

  • 1917
    British troops occupy the German settlements in Palestine
    Publication of the "Warte" is suspended

  • 1918
    850 inhabitants of the southern colonies are evacuated and interned in Helouan, Egypt

  • 1919
    About 300 people from Egyptian internment camps are repatriated to Germany

  • 1920
    On 29 June the Foreign Secretary, Lord Curzon, declared before the British Upper House that Great Britain agreed in principle to the return of the German internees to Palestine.
    On Sept. 8 the remaining 388 internees in Egypt are allowed to go home
    The Mandate government showed understanding of the needs and problems of re-settlement, and with the support of the Public Custodian of Enemy Property, E. Keith Roach, the Mandate government paid the settlers approximately 50% restitution for war losses of livestock and other property.

  • 1921
    On January 13 the repatriated settlers from Germany arrive back in Jaffa

  • 1924
    December 13 sees the formation of the Bank of the Temple Society Ltd as a general credit Institute for Palestine. Based in Jaffa and with branches in Haifa and Jerusalem it became at that time one of the leading credit institutions in Palestine.

  • 1928
    Establishment of a High School in Jerusalem to prepare for the higher school certificate (Abitur) at German Universities

  • 1932
    A pension fund for teachers and civil servants in the service of the TG is created
    A "Not-Kasse" is established to protect members from extreme hardship emergencies.
    On August 20 the "Palestine Home" of the Temple Society (Templer Club) in Stuttgart is ceremonially inaugurated

  • 1935
    Philipp Wurst, long-time deputy of Christian Rohrer, becomes President on Rohrer’s death.
    Jon Hoffmann is appointed Regional Head in Germany

  • 1939
    With the start of the Second World War internment again threatens the Germans in Palestine. By negotiation with the British, Philipp Wurst was able to persuade the authorities not to deport the German settlers this time. So the agricultural settlements Sarona, Wilhelma, Betlehem (Galilee) and Waldheim become "perimeter" compounds, where close to 2,000 persons are kept behind guarded 3m high barbwire fences. All able-bodied men are taken to separate camps in Akko.

  • 1941
    On February 7 Philipp Wurst dies in Wilhelma . His successor becomes the former deputy Nikolai Schmidt.
    In July, 665 of the internees (the able-bodied men and their families) are transported by the British Mandate authorities to an internment camp near Tatura in Victoria (Australia).

  • 1942
    In several exchange-transport-groups a total of 320 Templers from Palestine go to Germany during the war

  • 1946
    With growing civil unrest in Palestine, plans for the evacuation of all remaining Templers are being considered.
    On 22 March Gotthilf Wagner, aged 59, the last Community Head of Sarona, is assassinated in Tel Aviv

  • 1947
    The Internment Camp Tatura is dissolved. Because a return to Palestine is not possible, most of the Templers settle in Australia.

  • 1948
    After two more German settlers are killed in Haifa and Waldheim, the British Authorities quickly evacuate most of the Templers from Palestine by boat to a campsite on Cyprus. For almost a year they then wait at Famagusta for transport to either Germany or Australia.
    The "Warte" is again published in Stuttgart

  • 1950
    With the departure of the last Templer from Palestine on 13 April, 80 years of active Templer Utopia in Palestine comes to an end
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    Updated 28 December 2007
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