מרכז תיעוד לתולדות העיר מראשיתה עד עצם היום הזה — סיפורים ותגובות שנכתבו על ידי אנשי העיר ואוהביה
An historical introduction to the Andreas Meyer photographic collection.
The following presentation is written without footnotes. Over 70 interviews and discussions with first and second generation Nahariyans were used as sources for this paper, combined with references to first-hand sources as well as secondary literature concerning Nahariya and its establishment. These sources can be easily found in my previous publications about Nahariya.
All the photo-documents in this presentation were collected by Andreas Meyer over several years, scanned, and restored where necessary. Some of the photos are from his own negatives and those of his brother Justus and his father Dr. Otto Meyer. By far the greater part of the collection was put at his disposal by many of Nahariya's oldtimers, who were themselves witnesses of those times. Among those to be mentioned specially are Sascha Blitzblau and Kulli Weidenfeld, Carmela Mazursky, Dr. Fritz Wolf, Ruthi Gertner/Lehmann, Esra Reich, Sigmund Zweig, Chava Wachtel/Feldheim, Leah Tidhar/Nothmann, Gad Stein, Batia Winter/Rosenthal, Chava Plaut, Jonathan Moller, Raja Strauss, Stef Wertheimer, Ruben Maskit, Judith Leiserowich/Deutsch, Aviva Nahari/Adler, Nomi BarSela/Isaacsohn, Jossi Ettlinger, David+Hannah Oren/Leschziner, Addy Cohn, the Beth Liebermann Archive, the Central Zionist Archives and others....
Andreas asks for forbearance from those who were left out of this list.
The presentation is made up of random and private photos and does not claim to be a complete history of Nahariya.
The historical introduction and the prefaces to the 15 categories were written by the historian Dr. Klaus Kreppel from Bielefeld, Nahariya's twin-city. They were translated into Hebrew by Joram Davidson and into English by Avner Greenberg.
The texts accompanying each picture were collected and written by Andreas Meyer, after consulting with Eli Bar-On. They were translated into Hebrew by Alf Rülf
The computer presentation was prepared by David Gürsoy.
The author extends his thanks to all those who helped with the production of this photo presentation.
Andreas Meyer donates the present collection to the Nahariya Museum at House Liebermann on the occasion of Nahariya's 70 years anniversary celebration in 2005.
Anyone who reads this and may have some material pertaining to Nahariya's past, should please forward it to the Nahariya Museum at House Liebermann, P.O.B 78 22100 Nahariya. Contact
to preserve it for future generations.
Dr. Klaus Kreppel 24.09.04
Nahariya was conceived as an utopian model by the agronomist Dr. Selig Eugen Soskin (1873-1959). Soskin was born in Russia and studied agronomy and philosophy in Germany. By 1903 he was already one of the best known leaders of the Zionist movement. He had a good command of Russian, Yiddish, German and English, but spoke hardly any Hebrew. On one of his many trips around the world, Dr. Soskin discovered a small colony in southern Spain called Monte Algaida. The colonists intensively cultivated seven dunams each of sand dunes, on which they grew potatoes, melons, cucumbers and other vegetables, using only sunlight, underground water, natural fertilizers produced from their animals' manure, and compost. Each house stood on its own lot, which was just large enough to provide for the family's needs, and to market any surplus produce. All the colonists were members of various cooperatives, that provided the necessary infrastructure and community services, and took care of credit and marketing the colony's products. Searching all over the world, from Latin America to China, for a suitable model for colonizing Jewish Palestine. Soskin had found it in the early 1920s at the western rim of the Mediterranean. Mid-thirties Nahariya was to be mirror image of Monte Algaida on the eastern rim of the Mediterranean.
In 1917 Great Britain published the 'Balfour Declaration' in which it gave the Jewish people the prospect of a national home in what was to become the territory of mandatory Palestine. Since the Jews were expected to share their future national home with the existing non-Jewish communities, it was imperative to use the confined space in the most effective way. In following the model of Monte Algaida, Soskin believed he had found the key to the colonization problem in Palestine. His solution was named hereafter 'privately based intensive colonization on small areas'. The agronomist Davis Trietsch (1870-1935), father and father-in-law of, in the later years, well-known Nahariya couple Hannah (1911-2001) and Benjamin Jeremias (1910-1992), supported Soskin's scheme. Furthermore, Chaim Weizman (1874-1952), president of the Zionist movement, supported Soskin's colonization model, but the delegates to the Zionist congresses and most of its colonization experts were skeptical and rejected Soskin's ideas. In spite of the growing number of people who opposed him, Dr. Soskin remained adamant in his belief in the infallibility of his model: "This is the way - there is no other!" he called out to the 500 delegates at the 14th Zionist Congress in Vienna in 1925. Arthur Ruppin (1876-1943), the long-serving head of the Palestine office and later head of the 'German department' of The Jewish Agency, countered: "Lo zo haderech! No, this is not the way!" He opposed the claim to exclusivity with which Soskin pursued his goal.
As a moderate pragmatic politician, Arthur Ruppin had already a decade earlier clashed with a young political hothead: the engineer Joseph Loewy (1885-1949). In 1913 Loewy was employed as a technician in Ruppin's Palestine office, and quickly became a 'political high flyer', involved in shuttle diplomacy between Constantinople and Jerusalem, between the German and American ambassadors and consulates, between Turkish and German officers in Palestine, and between Zionists and anti-Zionists of the Yishuv. When, at the outset of the first world war, anti-Jewish sentiment developed in Ottoman Palestine, Joseph Loewy contradicted his superior Ruppin in pleading for the establishment of an armed self-defense force of Jewish settlers, even under the auspices of American warships that were patrolling the coast of Palestine. In Arthur Ruppin's view this undermined the neutral position taken by the Jews of Palestine, who belonged to the Ottoman Empire, which was allied with Germany against the British Empire, and which would have been only too pleased to accuse the Jews of collaboration with the English enemy (and its natural ally the USA). Loewy's provocative behavior brought him into conflict with Ruppin, who fired him. In a letter to the 'select action committee' in the Hague Ruppin leveled accusations of making wrong decisions against the engineer, which Loewy repudiated. It was not Loewy the 'politician', but rather Loewy the 'expert' who felt deeply wounded. The scars of this wound were still not healed twenty years later, when Loewy joined forces with another opponent of Ruppin's, Selig Soskin, to found Nahariya.
Two Men Unite: Selig Soskin and Joseph Loewy
After the First World War Loewy returned to Palestine with his new wife Clara, born a Sommerfeld (1889-1974). After experiencing several failures with his building enterprise 'Kedem', Loewy became the largest private purchaser of lands in Palestine. In the mid-twenties, when he dealt with the acquisition and drying of the swamp land in the Haifa bay area, Selig Soskin presented him with a proposal for establishing an intensive agricultural middle-class settlement. However, this attempt also failed to get off the ground. It was only the unique traits of the 'fifth aliya' that enabled the foundation of an intensive middle-class settlement, which was named 'Nahariya'.
The historical uniqueness of this 'fifth wave of immigration' to Eretz Israel, which took place between 1933 and 1939, was closely associated with the anti-semitic pogroms in Germany. During the first six years of the National Socialist dictatorship the systematic policy of discrimination forced 220,000 Jewish citizens to emigrate, before the extermination of European Jewry was announced in 1939, and finalized at the Wannsee conference of 1942. Some 40,000 German-speaking Jews arrived in Eretz Israel between 1933 and 1938.
Already in the first year of the Nazi era in Germany, Jewish businessmen, professionals, clerks and judges sought alternative employment abroad, after they were hard hit by boycotts and were prohibited from practicing their professions. The most popular destinations among emigrants were the USA and South America, since at the time the settlement policy in Palestine was tailored to Zionist colonists from Eastern Europe. After the Zionist congress in Prague (1933) the 'Central Office for the Immigration of German Jews' in Palestine was formed, or in short 'the German department'. It was led by Arthur Ruppin, who tried to convince middle-class people with some financial assets to immigrate to Eretz Israel. In 1933 Kiryat Bialik and Ramot Hashavim were founded for German middle-class immigrants. Ramot Hashavim was founded according to the ideas of Davis Trietsch, a friend of Selig Soskin. Soskin now believed that the time for his agricultural model had arrived.
Other Founders of Nahariya
In 1934 an opportunity presented itself. The Toueni family of Beirut offered to sell 20,000 dunams of Arab land north of Akko, at the mouth of the Mafshukh river for 34,000 Palestinian pounds (£P). It was bought by four individuals: Heinrich Cohn (1895-1976), a well-know Tel Aviv banker, Joseph Loewy, Dr. Selig Eugen Soskin and Mrs. Paulina Wengrover-Salkind, who represented two well-established Jewish families resident in Palestine. Together with three other men, the businessman Erich Roth (1895-1962), the engineer Simon Reich (1883-1941) and Siegmund Warburg (1896-1962), the son of the third Zionist president Otto Warburg, they founded the "Nahariya Small Holdings Ltd.". They recruited additional shareholders, such as Alfred Leonhard Tietz, from the West-German branch of the Hermann Tietz department stores chain, the engineer Dunie, the brother-in-law of Chaim Weizmann, who was murdered in 1938, and professor Otto Warburg (1859-1938). Numerous settlers received £P500 worth of company shares upon purchasing their plot of land and payment was deferred 'until the company is wound up'. At this point their debt would be balanced against the capital gain and dividends of the stocks. Among this group were the settlers Willi Adler (born 1904), Willi David (1883-1950), Walter Deutsch (1907-1981), Hermann Friede, Herbert Haliczer (1916-1970), Dr. Egon Hönigsberg, Dr. Walter Isaac, Dr. Rolf Jacobi, Alfred Rosenblatt (1893-1975), Max Sommerfeld (1880-1966), Dr. Walter Stiel (1902-1973), Dr. Hermann Tuchler (1895-1970) and Dr. Edmund Weidenfeld (1907-1979).
The three men, Dr Soskin, Loewy and Cohn, also constituted the first provisional board of the company, and were thus considered to be the 'three founding fathers' of Nahariya. Prior to reselling the plots (meshakim) to new immigrants from central Europe, a number of issues had to be resolved: the supply of water and electricity, building a road network, parcellation of the area into plots of five, seven and nine dunams, construction of various types of houses and chicken coops, and stocking the necessary poultry and small livestock.
The 'Mumchim' (Experts)
In the founding year, 1934/1935, the directorate of Nahariya Ltd. was required to make many sociological, economic, commercial and technical decisions, for which experts had to be regularly consulted. Four sub-committees, or 'advisory boards' were supposed to provide expert advice to the board of the company: a board for tree planting (with experts such as professor Otto Warburg and Dr. Jacob Oppenheim), another for erecting buildings (which included professor Eugen Ratner from the Technion in Haifa and the architect Cassel), a third board for poultry breeding (with experts from Mikwe Israel and Nahalal), and a fourth for vegetable cultivation. The latter included a Mr. Sellinger, later to become Nahariya's legendary 'vegetable instructor'. The task of these instructors was to advise the settlers on every theoretical and practical agricultural issue. Alongside Sellinger, Jacob Pauker (1902-1998) and Benjamin Jeremias also functioned as instructors. The Chadaschi brothers were the consulting experts on fruit cultivation, and with Chaim Katzenellenbogen (1906-1986), an agronomist from Kaunas who had studied in Paris, the farmers were well advised in all matters concerning poultry farming.
The Cooperative Society
Since the settlement company saw its goal of installing the infrastructure and selling the equipped farms achieved, its early liquidation was planned. All the community services and infrastructure were due to be taken over by the 'cooperative', founded in 1935. This association of settlers regulated all purchasing, marketing and consumption activities, and also took over cultural, social and communal tasks. A levy of £P5-10 per dunam provided the required finances for the cooperative's activity. Numerous settlers worked in its administration. The society's first chairman was Oskar Peter Mayer (1890-1959) from Heidelberg. Together with his wife Gretel he would later establish the 'Gretel Mayer' guest house, which in 1957 was converted into a home for elderly freemasons. He was succeeded in 1937 by a lawyer from Heilbronn, Dr. Oskar Mayer-Wolf (born 1893), who became chairman of the local council in 1941 and thereafter became the first mayor of Nahariya. Oskar Mayer-Wolf's son, Benjamin Kurt, born in Heilbronn in 1925, who emigrated with his parents to America in 1949, designed Nahariya's current coat of arms. His classmate Beate Rosenthal (born 1925 in Berlin) recalls that his idea for the city's emblem, which combined a water tower with sea, shore and farmland, won first prize in a painting competition at school. Oskar Mayer-Wolf was supported by Heinz Lesser (1912-1990), who hailed from Stargard in Pommern. He served for many years as the chief secretary of the cooperative and later of the Nahariya community. Subsequently, he emigrated to Australia. Other people who worked on the cooperative's 'va'ad' from its very beginning were Wilhelm Broch, Paul Dreifuss (a businessman from Hungen in Hessen), Hermann Friede, the lawyers Dr. Walter Stiel and Dr. Hermann Tuchler, and Nahariya's first doctor, Dr. Egon Hönigsberg, who was succeeded by Dr. Edmund Weidenfeld.
Right from the beginning there was disagreement on two fundamental issues among the members of the board of the company: first was an undervaluation of the price of property quoted to purchasers from Germany, who were subsequently charged additional sums; second was the overestimation of the future profits to be gained from the intensive agriculture. According to Heinrich Cohn, the 'third founder' of Nahariya, both problems were potential causes of the shortage of funds, resulting in new debts for the settlers of Nahariya. Thereafter the company continually adjusted the price of land for new purchasers. For this and other reasons the company itself experienced ongoing financial difficulties. This was confirmed in April 1938 in the report of an examination of the company presented by the former lawyers from Breslau, Dr. Hermann Tuchler and Dr. Hugo Nothmann (born 1883).
The 'third founder' of Nahariya, Heinrich Cohn, had foreseen such dangers. As an economist he had anticipated both the fundamental mistakes of undervaluation of land prices and overestimation of the settlers' profits. His views were supported by David Stern (1889-1962), the Sochnut's agricultural expert. Dr. Selig Soskin, who perceived this disagreement as a continuation of his 'ideological dispute' with the Zionists in the twenties, defended his model and was supported by Joseph Loewy against Heinrich Cohn. Cohn resigned from the company and was 'kicked out' of the board. Heinrich Cohn was then forgotten. The role of the 'third founder' was gradually appropriated by Simon Reich (1883-1941), who served as the technical supervisor for Nahariya Ltd., responsible for introducing technological innovations and for the resulting deficits. Simon Reich originally worked as an engineer on the construction of dams, roads and bridges for the Royal Austro-Hungarian Railways before coming to Palestine in 1919. From 1924 onwards he took part in drying the Haifa bay swamps together with Joseph Loewy.
The agronomist of the Jewish Agency, David Stern, identified two further problems besetting Nahariya: he calculated that of the farms of five, seven and nine dunams, only the latter could be profitable. Furthermore, the immigrants from central Europe, most of whom were in their forties and lacked any agricultural experience "were absolutely unsuited" to the physically demanding field labor. Stern was concerned that the settlers of Nahariya would soon exhaust all their financial reserves and that a 'catastrophe' was inevitable. Responsibility for the settlers would then fall on 'our shoulders', i.e., the shoulders of the Jewish Agency. Yet another problem became evident, which the experts on fruit trees, Professor Otto Warburg and Dr. Jacob Oppenheimer, who served on the company's advisory board, had failed to notice: Soskin's model envisioned first and foremost the cultivation of stone fruit. Nahariya's warm and humid climate was, however, altogether unsuitable for this type of produce. The experts had neglected to test this idea, to the detriment of the settlers, which became obvious only several years later. The failure of Soskin's model was thus a foregone conclusion. Fritz Wolf (born 1908), the last surviving pioneer settler of Nahariya, relates the affair from his perspective: "We always ended up losing money on whatever we delivered. Why? Because the Arab, at that time the Lebanese, competition was far cheaper. Furthermore, Dr. Soskin's idea that we should supply quality vegetables made no sense at the time. People didn't want quality vegetables, they wanted cheap vegetables. That was bankruptcy number one. Bankruptcy number two were the fruit trees. Nahariya's seaside climate wasn't suited to them. They prosper a few hundred meters higher up. So that was bankruptcy number two. Bankruptcy number three, in which I did not take part, was the poultry. The hens that were bought were always ill, and kept catching a cold even before they started laying eggs .We hadn't started breeding yet, all that developed only later. In other words: we were broke even before we started out."
The Settlers' Everyday Life
Nevertheless, the first settlers arrived in good spirits and were happy to escape the anti-Jewish atmosphere that prevailed in National Socialist Germany. On 10th February 1935 Hannah Deutsch, later Dayan (1914-2001), her husband Walter and the couple Ruth and Jakob Pauker, were the first to settle in the as yet unfinished Nahariya on February 10th 1935. This day, on which the first settlers moved in, was later recognised as Nahariya's official founding day. When the Deutsch couple moved into their hut (zrif) the roof was still without its plywood panels. Hannah Deutsch nevertheless felt 'luckier' than her neighbors the Paukers, who for some time yet had to sleep in a house with no roof at all . Ruth Pauker and Hannah Deutsch gave birth to the first 'Nahariya children': Miriam Pauker and Yael Deutsch were born in the founding year of 1935. They were followed in 1936 by Aviva Adler, Judith Lesser, Daniela Jeremias and Yoel Rosenblatt.
Hannah Deutsch recalls that first year in Nahariya: "Our means of transportation were donkeys and camels, which were mostly hired from the Arab neighbor from Achsiv, Abdul Karim. The camels carried heavy loads such as the furniture of newcomers, which had to be transported from the entrance to the settlement to their new house, or the () sif-sif sand used for mixing concrete in the building process. Every day the donkeys carried drinking water from the small Mafsukh river in two 20 liter cans."
The first settlers cooked only on a 'primus' (paraffin stove). Paraffin lamps were the only source of light, because Nahariya was not yet connected to the electricity network. The settlers made their own furniture using the wooden crates in which their belongings had been transported from abroad and the planks that were strewn all over the building sites. For a table they used a box, on which they placed an upside-down bathtub "with a pretty tablecloth on it". A suitcase covered with a soft blanket served as a bench. "Of course there was no WC, but even that was no problem: we soon placed a kist next to our house and with a few boards and a bucket everything was fine." At first, the shopping was done in Haifa. Settlers who still lived in Haifa brought bread. In general, it was very lonely out there in Nahariya, since at first even hired Jewish workers were reluctant to come to this settlement. So the work had to be done by prospective settlers and a few Arabs. "We planted trees, laid out experimental gardens and raised thousands of chicks. Other than that, the building activity never ceased. Each house seemed miles away from the next one because there were no connecting roads. In the afternoons, when I used to pick up my husband from the building site, it felt like an outing. The evenings were particularly lonely. But we tried to make things as cosy as possible. We were happy and didn't wish things to be any different."
A Child's View of Nahariya
Beate Rosenthal came to Nahariya with her parents as an 11 year-old child: "We arrived at Nahariya in June 1936 and school was supposed to start that September. The first teacher, Mr. Riesenberg, had just left, because he couldn't cope with the children from Germany. The pupils angered him persistently. Lessons were held south and north of the Ga'aton river, on alternate days. One day, when all the children had crossed over on the plank that connected the southern to the northern bank, they threw the plank into the river, before the teacher who was following behind them had crossed. The board drifted merrily towards the sea, and the teacher had to take a long detour over the main Akko-Beirut road to get to the northern part of Nahariya. Two months later two new teachers arrived, Mr. Artzi and Mr. Kurzberg. The first thing Mr. Kurzberg did was to change our German names into Hebrew ones. Hannelore became Chana, Mariana became Miriam. I wasn't called Beate anymore, but Batia."
"At the outset there was only one classroom. The children were divided into two groups according to age. The 14 - 15 year olds studied from 8 to 10 in the morning, and the second group from 10 to 12:30. Sometimes we couldn't open the classroom door, so the pupils and the teacher had to climb through the window, and that wasn't easy, because the window was narrow and high."
"A year later (1937) Mr. Ephraim Joel (1907-1966) and Dr. Shlomo Rülf (1896-1976) arrived, and school became a serious matter. It wasn't easy for them. Since there was only one classroom, they demanded a second one. After a long wait they were given another room, situated at the northern end of Nahariya. So the poor teachers had to go back and forth between the two classrooms to teach their pupils. Eventually, one day the classroom, which kept changing locations whenever the plot on which it stood was sold, found itself on the hill on which the present Weizmann school stands. 'Here we will have our school', they decided, and built two big rooms, connected by a door. On Friday evenings, Saturdays and holidays the door was opened for the large room to serve as a synagogue. Dr. Rülf was originally a rabbi in Saarbrücken. He acted as our honorary rabbi until we got our first full-time rabbi, Dr. Keller (1909-1998). All my friends celebrated their Bar-Mitzvas here and Dr. Rülf was a wonderful preacher and made very good speeches. Dr. Rülf was our first principal and a very good teacher too. I remember him running around once with a small bell to call us back to class, as we were hiding in the bushes and he couldn't see us.
One day an Arab fishing boat arrived on Nahariya's shore, and the people aboard invited us for a short cruise. We had a nice tour, but Dr. Rülf didn't like it at all. He was angry and that evening he called in the parents for a meeting, at which he explained that he considered it dangerous for the children to go cruising in an Arab fishing boat. The parents supported him. Dr. Rülf did a lot for Nahariya's school. The funds for the gymnasium were donated through his contacts in Saarbrücken. He had a big family and it was probably not easy for him. But he was a special and wise man. I have only good memories of him."
The Security Issue
During the first two years of Nahariya's settlement security was probably not as burning an issue as it was with the beginning of the Arab riots of spring 1936. The security-related tasks were 'ordinary' ones: protecting the settlers from thieves and intruders. One of the first personnel employed in Nahariya was a former Jewish shomer (guard) from Tiberias, hired in 1934. His name was Zvi Nissanow. His responsibilities were to ensure the security of Nahariya's settlers, and to represent the new settlement as its 'muchtar', its contact with the British authorities and Arab neighbors. Nissanow's most important task was to protect Nahariya's fenced areas from intruders at nighttime. During the day he proclaimed Nahariya's 'sovereignty', both within the settlement and to the outside, by wearing military-like uniforms, while refraining from offending the Arab neighbors. Nissanow was obviously sensitive in his dealings with the Arab neighbors. For instance, he initiated meetings between company members and representatives of the surrounding Arab villages, with the aim of establishing personal good-neighborly relations with the sheiks. The Jewish guard Nissanow went as far as taking an Arab guard, Abu Fusi, as his deputy. The situation changed with the outbreak of the Arab rebellion of 1936. First of all, the Arab guard had to be replaced by a Jewish one. Nahariya profited from the establishment by the Jewish Agency of a 'Jewish Settlement Police' with the agreement of the British mandatory government. Fritz David (born 1910 in Mannheim), the son of settler activist Willi David, accepted the vacant post in Nahariya (until 1944). From 1939 onwards Fritz served as 'Group Sergeant', responsible for the security of the Western Galilee district. Aside from his official post, Fritz David built up the Haganah forces (with the help of Chaim Bermann, Jakob Pauker and Chaim Ginsburg) and became the Haganah's district commander.
The Arab Riots of 1936-39
In 1936 Nahariya's auxiliary police force consisted of six men, armed with hunting rifles and a few real British military rifles. After 1937 almost all the men who were fit for military service were trained by Haganah members within the framework of the 'Special Police'. Andreas Meyer recalls: "A few of the Englishmen were well disposed towards us. I remember one Sergeant Fish, who came with a box of ammunition and practiced shooting with us (knowing that we were Haganah members) at the beach." Frtiz David wrote about the situation in Nahariya in 1936: "In the autumn of 1936 the situation was often so critical, that for lack of armed men we had to shorten our defense lines on many nights. Women and children who lived in wooden houses on the 'outskirts' of Nahariya, had to sleep in the center of the village." Nahariya knew no peace throughout three bitter years. Andreas Meyer testifies: "They regularly shot at Nahariya from the opposite hill at night, which presented a real danger to us and resulted in Nahariya becoming completely isolated. Every Nahariyan had to do 'shmira', to guard, at night. The shifts were rotated. This meant: 'Your shift is tomorrow from 12 at night till 4 am, and at 4 am Mr. Cohen will take your place.' Guard posts were built on Nahariya's perimeter. We only had a few rifles. My father, who used to hunt in Rheda, had brought two licensed hunting rifles from Germany. Furthermore, the Haganah had illegal arms. Aside from the 'illegal' rifles, we also had also a few licensed shotguns (The British had organized a kind of auxiliary police force). When the Arabs began shooting at us at night we all had to report for duty. One person on each block was responsible for getting us together. This was done by hanging up a piece of six-inch pipe, and hitting it with a piece of metal. When you did that, it sounded like a bell, heard from far and wide. Everybody had to take up their positions and play at war. Back then I was a member of the 'Young Maccabi' youth movement. With me were Ezra Reich, son of one of the founders of Nahariya, Milton Richard, who was an apprentice locksmith with us, Judith Hirschfeld, daughter of Dr. Hirschfeld, who ran the post office, Kurt Seligmann, Albert Silberschmidt, Hannah Windmüller, the daughter of our neighbor in Rheda, Egon Dorner, Ruth Loewy, who was related to the founding family, and Julle Broch, whose father worked for the 'Nahariya Small Holdings Ltd.'.. We often played table tennis together. Whenever the shooting started, we stopped playing for about thirty minutes, and went on playing afterwards. Each of us had a responsibility of his own. I, for example, was busy sending morse coded messages from the top of the water tower. These morse messages were our sole communication with Haifa, and later with the surrounding kibbutzim, that wasn't monitored by the English authorities. Back then the illegal immigration had just begun, and the first contact with newly-arrived illegal ships was established through morse-coded messages."
The Founding of Neighboring Settlements
At the time of the Arab disturbances the Jewish Agency foresaw the imminent implementation of the 1937 Peel Plan, which envisaged the partition of Palestine into an Arab and a Jewish part. The agency's chairman Ben-Gurion thus sought to strengthen the as yet under-developed Jewish population in the Western Galilee, so as to ensure its inclusion in the Jewish state. Nahariya was originally the only Jewish settlement north of Acre. In 1936 the Histadrut initiated the establishment of kibbutz Evron in tents on Nahariya's school hill. The kibbutz subsequently moved to Liebermann's land in Ein Sarah, and only thereafter to its permanent site on a hill south-east of Nahariya. Even prior to the establishment of the Jewish settlements of Hanita and Shave Zion, Selig Eugen Soskin was invited to appear before the Peel commission as Nahariya's representative. Armed with a map of the Western Galilee, he proceeded to explain why this territory should not come under Arab control. The 'Royal Commission for Palestine' ultimately decided to include Nahariya, together with the entire Galilee, in the Jewish part, thereby opening up the prospect of further Jewish settlements in the Galilee. The next year, in 1938, German immigrants from Rexingen in Württemberg, founded the Shave Zion moshav south of Nahariya. Inhabitants of Nahariya helped in its establishment. To stake a claim to the predominantly Arab north, lying between Haifa and the Syrian - now Lebanese - border, it was necessary to create additional settlement-political facts on the ground. Nahariya, which had always objected to having its 'middle class' agricultural enterprise equated with kibbutznik', now found itself in the ambivalent role of founding three kibbutzim, namely Hanita, Matzuba and Chirbeh Zemach, later named Eilon. Andreas Meyer recalls his own part in the founding of Hanita: "In a downright audacious operation, at dawn on 21st of March 1938 trucks loaded with housing parts and mountings, prefabricated, passed Bassa (today Shlomi) and onto the foot of the hills, from where they were dragged up the steep slope by about 600 volunteers, swiftly assembled and surrounded by barbed-wire." Andreas and Justus Meyer were part of a group of over 600 people who had been mobilized by the Haganah. Matzuba was also founded in a manner similar to that of Hanita, the so-called 'Tower and Wall' method.
Great Britain's 'soft' appeasement politics in Europe forced this old imperial power to adopt a harder line in other parts of the British Empire. Germany's fascist ally Italy was attempting to force England out of the Mediterranean and the Middle East, including the Suez Canal. The Nahariya teacher Ze'ev Amit experienced as a child the bombing of Tel Aviv by the Italians in the autumn of 1940. Haifa was also bombed by them. The British Petroleum refinery was the primary target of their fighter planes. On one occasion Nahariya became a secondary target for their bombs, which they had failed to eject on their sortie over the Haifa bay and were now merely offloading. Andreas Meyer was guarding the water tower at the time, and can well recollect how he and his comrades raced helter-skelter down the long flight of steps.
British foreign policy, which since 1917 had generally kept to a pro-Jewish 'Balfour line', took a sharp turn at the beginning of World War II and became clearly pro-Arab. Great Britain could no longer afford an Arab rebellion in Palestine, and forcibly put an end to it. The joy of the Jewish population was short-lived however, since the Woodhead Commission in January 1938 secretly recommended abandoning the partition of Palestine; neither a Jewish nor an Arab state in Palestine, which would instead become part of an Arab federation. The British 'white paper', released on 17th May 1939, drastically curtailed Jewish immigration to Palestine. "From April of this year onwards, 75,000 immigrants will be admitted over the following five years. After five years no further Jewish immigration will be permitted, unless the Arabs of Palestine agree to it." Since such agreement was highly unlikely, this meant in effect that up to April 1944 only some 15,000 immigrants would be admitted each year. Thus, any attempt made during the last year of the war and directly after 8th May 1945 to reach Palestine would be declared illegal. This 'white paper' policy was now a concrete expression of Great Britain's new pro-Arab foreign policy.
The Illegal Ships
The English adhered to this 'white paper policy' right up to the founding of the state of Israel on 14th May 1948. Nahariya was soon to feel its effects. The first 'illegals' arrived in the country in 1939 and were hidden and cared for by Nahariya's inhabitants. Andreas Meyer learned how to maintain contact with Haifa by Morse code, using a heliograph by day and light signals by night. When the arrival of an illegal ship was announced, Haganah instructors equipped with radio transmitters came to the water tower to set up contact with the ship and with Haifa. Ten to twelve ships were reputed to have landed on Nahariya's coast during the British blockade (the reports are conflicting). Among these were the Colorado, the Aliya, the Assimi, the United Nations, and the Hannah Szenes. The Hannah Szenes capsized off Nahariya and was subsequently refloated for use by the new Israeli navy. From a diary entry for 1st January 1948 we learn that there were 700 refugees aboard the United Nations, among them 40 children and many women. 537 persons were successfully hidden before the arrival of the military and the police, while 131 were arrested and placed in a camp. Following this event a 24-hour curfew was imposed on Nahariya.
The period from 1939 onwards also had its positive aspects. Andreas Meyer reports: "Upon the outbreak of the World War in 1939, peace broke out for us. For the first time since arriving in Nahariya (in January 1938) I took the road over the hill and set eyes upon the land beyond. But now a new problem arose. Ten kilometers from here, in present-day Lebanon, was Syrian territory, controlled by the Vichy French mandate. Vichy France was allied to Hitler, while Palestine was a British mandate territory. Since the allies suspected that Hitler may enter Palestine along this route, fortifications were built along the border on top of the hills. The contracts for their construction were awarded to the Diskin company. They also feared that Rommel's German army may enter Palestine from the Western desert. They could thus no longer put up with an Arab rebellion. On the present-day Lebanese border defenses were put in place: tank traps and bunkers with observation slits, so-called 'pillboxes'. In our locksmith shop we received a great many work orders for these projects. We secured the bunkers with 16mm thick iron-hatches. The anti-tank trenches were dug out by tractors from the firm of Gut & Gurewitsch, from whom we received a good deal of work. Orders kept coming in for work on the fortification installations. Nahariya was a small place, so we did not receive sufficient orders from Jewish clients. Most of our clientele was made up of Arabs, whom I visited in the surrounding villages on my motorcycle. In those days I owned one of the first motorcycles in Nahariya, which I had acquired from an English soldier, paid for with some money and whiskey. It was an Italian Motoguzzi, which this Englishman had picked up during the Syrian campaign. On the back of this cycle I had mounted a vice and a tool-box, and drove around the area to Arab-owned plantations, to repair the motors and water pumps used to irrigate the fruit and citrus trees. As I drove around these villages for weeks on end I picked up a smattering of Arabic, enough to make myself understood. Since then we have had some very good Arab friends. This showed that we Jewish workers could have got along well with the Arab farmers and laborers, had the politicians not interfered."
Nahariya's economy also profited from the many allied soldiers stationed in the area. The kibbutzim Hanita, Matzuba and Eilon, originally established to strengthen the Jewish population, were seen by the British as playing an important strategic role against Vichy Syria owing to their location on the Lebanese border. At this time of need the British authorities in Palestine were again prepared to make concessions to the Jewish population. The best example of this new approach was the unexpected release of the renowned 'forty three' from the Acre military prison on 16th February 1941. Among these was the Haganah fighter Moshe Dayan, who in June 1941 set out from Hanita together with Yigal Allon and Itzchak Rabin to lead a reconnaissance unit in the then still Syrian-controlled Lebanon. Hanita, near Nahariya, was to become a fateful site for Moshe Dayan. While leading a raiding party that set out from here on 8th June 1941 in Syrian-Lebanese territory, he lost his left eye when a French shot shattered his binoculars.
The UN Partition Resolution
The worst months for the people of Nahariya were those between the UN Partition Resolution of 29th November 1947 and Independence Day on 14th May 1948, and then once again up to the various armistice agreements between February and June 1949.
Nahariya's inhabitants reacted to the UN Partition Resolution with consternation. The entire Western Galilee, including the settlements of Nahariya, Shave Zion, Regba, Evron, Hanita, Matzuba, Elon and Yechiam, were included in the Arab part of Palestine. Construction activity in Nahariya was immediately interrupted. Arnold Kahn's canning plant stopped paying wages. Workers and their families left the area. The population shrank from 1,800 to 1,500. An economic depression ensued in Nahariya. When they made enquiries with the authorities of the yishuv, the people of Nahariya were given comforting responses: while Nahariya would not be forcibly recaptured, adjustment of territorial borders would be made through understandings with the Arabs. Through an exchange of territory Nahariya could then be included in the new Jewish state.
The Yechiam Convoy
Nahariya experienced its 'black day' when, on 23rd March 1948, a convoy on its way to the isolated kibbutz Yechiam was ambushed, and 47 young people who had broken out of Nahariya were killed. Four Nahariya residents were among the victims. This attempt to reach Yechiam from Nahariya was not an isolated incident, but can be viewed historically as one in a series of Jewish attempts to break through Arab cordons around Jewish settlements and towns, which led to a number of catastrophes. At almost the same time as the Yechiam debacle, at the end of March, attempts to break through at Etzion near Bethlehem, in the Negev and at Bab-el-Wad on the road to Jerusalem all failed.
While these catastrophes were befalling the Jewish convoys, the USA expressed its reservations regarding the adopted UN partition plan and proposed a UN trusteeship for Palestine. Even many Zionists viewed the aspiration to establish a state as a folly. But April 1948 saw a turning point. With weapons from Czechoslovakia Jewish units led by Yigael Yadin succeeded in lifting the blockade of Jerusalem. "From now on until the day on which the state was established the Jews won one victory after another. Ben Gurion had achieved his 'great coup' and the wind had turned." Nahariya could hope once more.
Although blockaded by land, Nahariya received supplies from the sea and held out until Independence Day on 14th May 1948, when a convoy of some 25 vehicles escorted by tanks reached the town. On the same day the first official Israeli soldiers arrived in Nahariya, aboard the former refugee boat Hannah Szenes. On the afternoon of 14th May 1948 the people of Nahariya listened over the radio to the declaration of the State of Israel by chief rabbi Herzog. "In the evening the cafes were packed. The celebrations following the proclamation of the state were broadcast on the new Jewish radio station." On the following day, however, despite the independence festivities, the mood in Nahariya was somber. All men aged between 17 and 55 were called up to help build the fortifications, since the armies of five neighboring Arab nations - Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan - had meanwhile invaded the new state of Israel. This situation lasted for the next seven months, during which Nahariya and its nearby kibbutzim Hanita and Evron were frequently bombarded.
Bombs on Nahariya
For Nahariya, the 26th May 1948 was yet another 'black day'. Sascha Blitzblau's barber shop was destroyed by the blast from a bomb that landed next to the building. Five people were killed, among them little Dani Neumann, who was having his hair cut accompanied by his mother, who was only lightly hurt. Sascha Blitzblau was seriously wounded. This tragic incident, which was to have further repercussions for Walter Neumann's family, was documented by Schlomo Rülf. On the following day rabbi Keller buried the victims. The 27th May 1948 was the day of Lag Ba'Omer, on which Esther and Andreas Meyer were married by rabbi Keller. Private and political events in Nahariya were tightly interwoven. On the next day, 28th May 1948, Iraqi planes dropped leaflets in German, Hebrew and Arabic. A Nahariya resident notes: "It was interesting that the German text was couched in a faultless style." The author of the Arab version called on 'the reasonable part of the Jewish population' to join the Arabs in supporting an undivided Palestine under a unified administration. But the anxious questions of Nahariya's residents were directed in an altogether different direction - 'Will we keep hold of the Western Galilee?' or would Nahariya belong to the Arab part of Palestine, according to the UN Partition Plan of 29th November 1947? In the latter case, acceptance of the model of an undivided Palestine would naturally have been the pragmatic solution for Nahariya. But the residents were more inclined towards the opinion expressed in the German language daily Jedioth Chadashot on 11th June 1948, the day of the first UN armistice: "The people of the Western Galilee were cut off and threatened for months on end. During these trying months they proved their worth to the full. They continued to uphold the tradition of loyalty to their people, which began with the landing of the 'Chana Senesch'. They proved themselves worthy of the yishuv. There is therefore only one answer to the above question: the yishuv should not relinquish the Western Galilee."
At the time of the first UN cease-fire Nahariya was part of the Israeli-controlled area, but could have been negotiable in concluding a peace agreement with the Arabs. Reassured, the people of Nahariya took note of the plan proposed by the UN representative count Folke Bernadotte, according to which Israel would keep the entire Western Galilee. While the Arab states refused to enter negotiations on the basis of this proposal, Ben Gurion also rejected the Bernadotte plan, since he anticipated that Israel would be required to surrender the Negev in return. This area was one of Ben Gurion's war objectives, as was the entire Galilee and unhindered access to Jerusalem. These objectives of the new Israeli prime minister and minister of defense secured the political right of Nahariya to exist within the framework of the new state of Israel. Ben Gurion had long since ceased to be satisfied with the original UN partition plan of 29th November 1947. It was for him now merely a starting point for a larger Israel with Jerusalem as its capital. On the other hand he was flexible on the issue of borders, and was prepared to give up territory in return for guarantees of a 'secure peace' with the Arabs, but this did not include areas that were already previously populated by Jews, such as Nahariya.
Following a breather of one month the first armistice ended on 9th July 1948. Ben Gurion had succeeded in combining the various military groups, from the Palmach to the Etzel, under a single command, organizing a number of weapon shipments to Israel, and recruiting illegal immigrants to new units, which were able to drive the Syrian and Lebanese armies out of Central Galilee by the time that a second UN armistice came into force on 19th July 1948.
After numerous small-scale Arab provocations the Israelis felt ready to breach this armistice as well in order to expel several Arab militias from the Northern Galilee during the Hiram offensive at the end of October 1948. But it was only after armistice agreements were concluded (with Egypt on 24.2.49, with Lebanon on 23.3.49, with Jordan on 3.4.49, and with Syria on 20.7.49) that Nahariya's residents could be sure that they belonged to the area within the 'green line', and also that they were now officially part of the territory of the new state of Israel.
Along New Paths
Regarding the security issue and Nahariya's time of hardship we have covered the period up to 1949. We now need to trace Nahariya's further internal development from 1935 onwards. Approximately forty pioneers had settled in Nahariya by the end of 1935. The available information about their occupations confirms in general Nahariya's character as a 'middle class' settlement. Around a quarter of the first residents were, like the Deutsch-Dayan couple, convinced Zionists, and probably found it relatively easy to integrate into their new surroundings. The same proportion of pioneers, such as Mayer-Wolf or Lesser, left Nahariya and emigrated from Israel after the war. Not only the teething problems associated with the incomplete infrastructure and shortage of money persuaded these people to leave; their decision was influenced by the impending failure of the Soskin plan. Their settlement had become an experiment of a hitherto untried model, in the course of which the settlers themselves were temporarily relegated to the status of objects. The resulting crises were, however, weathered by most Nahariyans, who already in the early years sought alternative means of making a living.
While Nahariya's economic model was collapsing, its sociological and cultural model asserted itself within the historical reality. Amidst Nahariya's economic and day-to-day crises, bearers of culture such as Fritz Wolf from Heilbronn, David Weiler from Munich and Otto Meyer from Rheda adapted the ongoing concerns for the stage in a jovial and distancing fashion.
The Fritz Wolf Musicals
The musicals of Fritz Wolf take disenchantment and disappointment as the recurring theme in a tragicomic manner. Messrs. Soskin and Warburg of 'Nahariya Ltd.' appear in the Grossen Parnosse loudly offering their magic plots at the fair: 'A Nahariya plot doesn't cost much more than your entire Transfer.' In return, the naïve Yeckes receive soil with stones as big as a child's head, a barn in which the concrete cracks ...chickens for the broth .'. Likewise, the mumchim, the experts, are portrayed as a laughing stock; they promenade to and fro like some infallible demigods and oracles without giving any practical advice as to the 'right moment' for sowing and for plowing.
Fritz Wolf's greatest opus, the Nahariyade, compresses a typical day in the life of the Nahariya settler and farmer Jacob Mendelstein, who at 41 years of age is so exhausted that he would prefer to go on sleeping in the morning.
Mathilde I am tired, Mathilde I am feeble
And weak in every limb, as if it were shabat.
Fritz Wolf chooses 'fatigue' rather than the expected pioneering energy as the recurring theme for day-to-day life in the young settlement of Nahariya. When one has nevertheless pulled oneself together, one goes to feed the sick animals, to light the petroleum stove - 'it was expensive and worthless,' and then goes off to harvest in the field.
But of what use is the best variety, when expenses are so high,
Seeds, manure and transportation, all that's left are ten percent.
And then one must do battle with the weeds, to which the 'Song of the Blue Flowers' is quite unromantically dedicated. Amid much hustle and bustle the harvest is brought to the small trolley for delivery to Tnuva the marketing company. Here one must first stand in line: 'Do you know how many hours pass until one gets there?' Then the produce is tested by stringent vegetable inspectors. Mendelstein must take part of the harvest back home for his own consumption. Pessimism sets in, but is promptly allayed by a song of 'hope'.
A selection of songs by Fritz Wolf were 60 years later brought again to the stage by the students of the high school "Heepen" in Nahariya's twin-town Bielefeld, for a movie by David Witztum about Nahariya's early years. The movie, with the title "Nahariyade", was the brainchild of Andreas Meyer and its premiere was in 2002 at 'The Open Museum' in Tefen. The movie can be aquired at the museum in Tefen and Beit Liebermann, Nahariya.
In the 'Grosse Parnosse', the residents' experiences of the catastrophic flooding in the winter of 1937 are brought to life in a free adaptation of Goethe's Sorcerer's Apprentice. They lose the last of their money, the debts to the cooperative are mounting, their spirits sink ever lower. 'First we lost our belief in chickens and vegetables and then the issue of an alternative occupation emerged.' Pessimism is suppressed: 'Keep smiling, that's what you always must think, even if your heart is breaking.'
While all Herr Mendelstein's friends are disappointed and done with agriculture, fruit growing and chicken raising and take up an occupation 'that is more suited to their age and education,' the finale of the Nahariyade attests to the steadfastness of Herr Mendelstein:
He alone has the strength -
He alone remains true to agriculture.
It was first and foremost the young generation who made it clear to their parents that Nahariya had become their homeland. The 'young settler' Heinz Brock vowed before resigned settlers at a general meeting of the cooperative in 1937: "The group of young people in Nahariya, who are today still in the minority, is determined to hold out in Nahariya, because they came to Nahariya not only as refugees, but because they wanted to find a home here, even if they would have to starve for a while." No-one had to starve in Nahariya. The settlement survived, and its residents turned to new occupations.
It took the youthful idealism to weather Nahariya's years of crisis. In the minutes of the above-mentioned general meeting of the cooperative society, the settler Brock, who was obviously associated with the political left wing, explained: "The settler's horizons are narrow, and do not extend beyond the price of vegetables. Thus, a mood of impending catastrophe is easily generated, which damages the settlement no end. Nahariya is notorious for its bad mood throughout the land ." Alongside the above-mentioned 'objective' conditions that led to the collapse of Nahariya's economic model, Bernhard Simmenauer, an attorney born in Herten/Westfalia in 1900, cited certain behavioral traits among the settlers themselves that may well have contributed to the financial disaster in the spring of 1938: "Besides, the Nahariya settlers lived in a 'fool's paradise.' They consumed for their farm and household more than they produced. They completely lost perspective of their situation, since they bought their seeds and fertilizer and implements on credit. The cooperative settled its accounts for produce delivered in arrears, and paid in slips rather than cash, which could be redeemed only for purchases in shops belonging to the cooperative. The vendors in the lower town of Haifa, however, demanded 'Palestine pounds' for their wares, and not green or blue stamped pieces of paper. In short, the situation was ripe for radical reform." This reform and a new beginning were enabled when the Nahariya cooperative was saved at the turn of the year 1937/38 through a long-term loan from the 'Central Bank for Cooperative Institutions', which was arranged by its manager Viteles. The debts could now be paid, and each settler was given an advance payment for his delivered produce. This led to further changes. The system of slips, based on the green and blue 'Nahariya currency', was discontinued and replaced by cash transactions. The cooperative's grocery store was leased to a private enterprise and later sold.
Nahariya's First Guest Houses
Nahariya's economic and occupational restructuring could no longer be contained. Richard Marx (1895-1980), formerly a Heidelberg merchant and since 1942 the chairman of the agricultural cooperative and for many years Nahariya's deputy mayor, reported: "Ever more settlers in Nahariya turned to more viable occupations. The engineers who built the defenses north of Nahariya for the government contractor Diskin, the British officers and their families who came from Khartoum and Abadan to Nahariya's mild climate and who discovered this 'European' health resort, showed the population that they could make a more profitable and easier living by letting rooms and opening guest houses than by doing hard agricultural work." Many former farmers who no longer saw any future in the Soskin plan made yet another switch, and transformed Nahariya into a health and seaside resort.
The first concession for opening a guest house was given to Mrs. Tutti Loewy (1890-1964), the sister-in-law of Joseph Loewy, in 1936. When Walter Neumann (born 1913 in Breslau, known as 'Die Schwarze Hand'), worked in Nahariya, this guest house already existed. Walter Neumann is still fond of relating the changing history of this café and guest house, which was for a time also run by Joseph Neuberger (1902-1977) and his wife Ilse (1914-1998). The Neubergers then opened their own guest house opposite, but returned to Germany after the war, where Joseph Neuberger worked for many years as a reform politician and Minister of Justice in the province of Nordrhein-Westfalen.
The Cohen's House
When Mrs. Grete Cohen likewise wished to open a guest house, her request was initially refused by the cooperative, whose policy was that each branch of business should have only one representative in Nahariya. A year later, however, the 'Cohen house' did receive a concession. Justus and Andreas Meyer still remember their former neighbor from Rheda, since 'Gretchen' Cohen was born a Windmüller and came with her brother Jakob (1879-1962) from Rheda. Since 1937 she ran her guest house together with her husband Richard Cohen (1883-1954) from Burgsteinfurt in Westfalia. Their guest book bears the names of (almost) all those closely involved in Israel's history. Their best known guests were Chaim Weizmann (1874-1952), Israel's first president, and David Ben Gurion (1886-1973), before he became Israel's first prime minister. The name of Moshe Sharet (1894-1965) also appears in the guest book. Prior to his quarrel with Ben Gurion in 1956 he was the country's first foreign minister, and later served for a short period as prime minister and was the chairman of the World Zionist Organization until his death in 1965. Dov Joseph also has an entry in the guest book, with his remark 'This is Nahariya, this is the Cohen's house!' Under Ben Gurion Dov Joseph managed a number of resorts: as Minister of Provisions and Finance, as Trade and Industry Minister, and finally as Development Minister. Gershon Agron (1893-1959), another of the guests in the Cohen's house, was for many years editor of the Jerusalem Post, and from 1955 served as the mayor of Jerusalem. And the signature of one Ralph Bunche (1904-1971) conceals the acting UN negotiator in Palestine/Israel in 1948/49 and later a Nobel peace prize laureate. He stayed in Nahariya in March 1949 when leading the armistice negotiations with Lebanon and resided in the Cohen's house. Kulli Weidenfeld (born in 1919 as Claire Sommerfeld in Schneidemühl) worked in the Cohen's house from 1939 and remembers an incident involving the British Major Balfour, a nephew of Lord Balfour: "He spoke a little German. The landlord, Richard Cohen, was a typical Westfalian. He could sit with his daughter all day without saying a word and then say that they had had a lovely conversation. And Papa Cohen held a conversation with his guest in a similar vein. "How come you speak German?" - "I was In Hanover. My great-grandfather was the king there," - ".." The Cohens had a dachshund. One morning Major Balfour descended the steps complaining with rolling English Rs: "Your dachshund Johnny has been most mischievous. He has scattered the cabinet papers all over the corridor." Kulli Weidenfeld can recall many other anecdotes from her time at the Cohen's house. When the Westfalian landlady was asked about the secret of her success, she replied: "Actually, my guest house is not run as a catering business, but rather as an enlarged household." And: "European home decor and a well-tended kitchen have always been close to my heart."
Gretel Meyer opened her renowned guest house in 1940. At the outset guests were still put up in the chicken house and breakfast was taken in the open air - as reported by Jenny Cramer, the wife of the ophthalmologist Dr. Max Cramer, who knew Gretel Meyer from medical school in Heidelberg. Gretel Meyer studied nursing, and we learned from Beate Davidson that she turned her guest house into a maternity ward during Nahariya's time of need.
Other well-known guest houses were Weidenbaum, Popper and Rosenblatt. The Rosenblatt hotel began in a chicken house, on which a proper stone building was erected in 1945, to be replaced in 1961 by a modern structure that stands to this day.
The Karl Laufer guest house stood 'opposite the beach'. A caption beneath a photo asks rhetorically: 'Who has not heard of Pension Laufer in Nahariya?'
In 1940 the Oppenheimer family established the Penguin café. We heard the history of this beloved café which developed beside the Ga'aton river from a simple hut to a modern eatery from Marianne Oppenheimer. Today it continues to be managed by her son Ilan and his wife Michal.
Private individuals were eventually enabled to let rooms through the initiative of Dr. Walter Isaacs. Many Nahariyans moved out to the chicken house or to an outhouse during the high season to vacate their bedrooms for summer guests.
Nahariya transformed itself into a 'European health resort'. The number of overnight stays in the town rose continuously from 100 in the year 1938 to 600 in 1941; and from 4,000 to 20,000 between 1942 and 1947. The year of the blockade in 1948 saw the number shrink to 2,000, but the annual number of overnight stays rose from 32,000 in 1949 to 120,000 ten years later.
The Food Industry: Strauss and Soglowek
Food processing was another of the 'second attempt' new occupational branches that developed in Nahariya. The Strauss family - originally entrepreneurs in the Swabian metal industry - right from the outset opted for animal husbandry, and owned one of the first cowsheds in Nahariya. Once, by chance, they used some of their surplus milk to produce cheese, before deciding in 1939 to establish a dairy on their land, which had originally been designated for agriculture. In 1940 Hilda Strauss (1911-1985) discovered her talent for making ice cream. The first 'Strauss Ice Cream' was sold in café Penguin in Nahariya. 'Strauss Ice Cream' became a market leader and a well-known brand throughout Israel. Strauss's variety of cheeses was developed in a similar fashion, before the company entered the international market and later undertook joint ventures with labels such as Danone and Unilever. Strauss has recently taken over the Elite coffee company. The company's founder, Richard Strauss (1909-1975), invited his former teacher Theodor Heuss (1884-1963), the first president of free Germany after 1945, for two private visits to Israel and was one of the first to adopt a reconciliatory approach towards the Germans.
The Soglowek-Kvilecky family settled in Nahariya in 1937 intending to rebuild the kosher butchery that they had previously run in Breslau. The Sogloweks also brought along from Breslau their Mashgiach Dr. Aharon Keller (1909-1998), who later served for many years as rabbi in Nahariya. Shortly before her death, Irmgard Soglowek (1910-2000) recounted the story of her firm, which is also part of the history of the Israeli economy. For five years the butcher's shop had to contend with the consequences of the tzena, the stringent austerity program initiated by Ben Gurion's government in April 1949, to deal with the lack of provisions following the mass immigration directly after the founding of the state. Once all the restrictions had been lifted, Soglowek became a renowned national and international kosher meat processing enterprise, which made 'Nahariya sausage' - in Hebrew 'naknik Nahariya' - a familiar trademark. The German-Jewish settlement of Nahariya thus became well known through two products that incorporated its name: 'Nahariya sausage' and 'Nahariya Glass'.
The Meyer Locksmith
A settler family that came to Nahariya with two intentions, to become farmers and artisans, were the Meyers from Rheda in Westphalia. The father, Dr. of law Otto Meyer (1886-1954), made the transition to agriculture in 1937, but at the same time made sure that his son Andreas (born 1921), who had learned the craft of locksmith in Germany, brought along to Palestine the equipment needed for his locksmith shop. His son Justus (born 1913) and daughter Brita (born 1916) also worked in this locksmith and bicycle workshop. By the way, the mother Gertrud Meyer (1877-1966) was considered the 'mother of German folk dance' and gave even folk dancing lessons in Nahariya. At first the locksmith shop was intended not as the main source of income but rather as an 'extra'. However, it soon developed into an independent business that changed its focus from time to time according to the varying needs: regular locksmith's jobs, pipe-laying, motor pumps and car repairs, under-water pipe-laying and welding, production of diving equipment under the name "Dagon" and on to artistic metalwork and production of artistic glassware in the Nahariya Glass Ltd. The personal experiences of the couple Esther and Andreas Meyer are deeply rooted in the seventy year long sociological, political and economic history of Nahariya's development, captured for posterity by Andreas Meyer in his numerous photographs.
Father Otto Meyer brought a 'Leika' camera with him to Israel, which was subsequently inherited by his son, Andreas Meyer. Already during his orientation trip to Israel in 1935 Otto Meyer took many photographs. Andreas and Justus Meyer continued this tradition and took a great many photographs of their work and everyday life on their meshek and in their locksmith shop. As artisans, the Meyers traveled widely, and took many photos on their journeys. Incidental scenes of Nahariya's everyday life were added to their collection. When Andreas was drafted in 1948, he took his camera along to the war of independence, and took numerous photos from his armored vehicle. This is how a private collection of photographs of random events between the years of 1934-1949 evolved, albeit not intended for exhibition, since it had not been put into any systematical or chronological order. Only recently has Andreas begun to catalogue and classify the photographs. He consulted many of his contemporaries and also professionals. Friends, acquaintances and veteran Nahariyans willingly put many, additional photos at his disposal. Working day and night he used these materials to produce the presentation before you.
The collection is divided into 15 folders, partly by historic events:
No.1 : Beginning,
No.13 : Haganah - Illegals,
No.14 : Yamia - Nah. cut off
No.15 : The '48 war - convoys
and partly by thematic content:
No.2 : Houses and Living,
No.3 : Farming,
No.4 : Trades and Services,
No.5 : Youth,
No.6 : Tourism and the Beach,
No.7: Culture and Sport,
No.8 : Mobility and Transport,
No.9 : Sights of Nahariya,
No.10 : Neighbors,
No.11 : Special Events,
No.12 : VIPs
Few of the pictures appear twice, since they belong in two or more categories. This classification was worked out through numerous discussions, correspondence and telephone calls between Andreas Meyer and Klaus Kreppel, and could have turned out differently. We do not claim that this collection of photographs is complete, or that it is presented in the perfect order. Andreas Meyer was never a professional photographer nor an experienced computer operator. As a self-made man he has bequeathed us important docu-photos. For this we are exceedingly grateful to him. And we also thank all those who have helped with the publication.