Photo by Garabed Krikorian/American Colony Hotel

Festivities before the storm. A devout Christian and an anxious proponent of Germany’s interests overseas, Kaiser Wilhelm II (1859–1941) of Germany toured the Holy Land in 1898. The photo shown here (see also the photo of Kaiser Wilhelm II) dates to his visit to Jerusalem, where he attended the consecration of the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, still standing today in the Arab Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City.

Many Europeans suspected his trip was motivated by expansionist plans rather than piety. In a letter to his cousin, Czar Nicholas of Russia, Wilhelm wrote, “I am most astonished at the amount of bosh and blarney that is being ventilated in the newspapers of Europe about my visit to Jerusalem! It is most discouraging to note that the sentiment of real faith, which propels a Christian to seek the Country in which our Saviour lived and suffered, is nearly quite extinct in the so-called better classes of the XIXth Century, so that they must explain the Pilgrimage forcibly by Political motives. What is right for thousands even of your lowest peasants is right for me too!”

A few years later, the Kaiser attended Delitzsch’s lectures and became one of his greatest supporters. Wilhelm would later attempt to rid Germany, in his own words, of “Jewry and its Yahweh.”