Monday, December 8, 2008

The keys to the city--take them already!

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December 9 is the anniversary of a major event in Jerusalem's modern history, but I doubt if anyone will think of it. The only reason I know is because of my explorations this week.
I found a tall office building and from a top (10th) floor window was lucky to get this view to the west. The huge building with the long blue windows is the new Central Bus Station.
But what was that little circular park in back of it??


I went down and discovered this little playground, but no name.
But across the street was a tiny sign on an old wall that said Kikar Allenby, meaning Allenby Square. Aha!

And an old monument! Its inscription reads:
"NEAR THIS SPOT THE HOLY CITY WAS SURRENDERED TO THE 60th LONDON DIVISION 9th DECEMBER 1917.   ERECTED BY THEIR COMRADES TO THOSE OFFICERS, N.C.O.'s AND MEN WHO FELL IN FIGHTING FOR JERUSALEM."

If you click to enlarge this photo and contemplate the figures etched in stone, you may see hooded Crusader knights with shield and sword!! Like these British soldiers they, too, conquered Jerusalem (in 1099).
But wait . . . I always heard that General Allenby accepted the Turks' surrender at the Citadel, just inside the Jaffa Gate, in the Old City. So, back home, I asked the Google god to help in my quest for answers.
Here, written by Aviva Bar-Am in her Jerusalem Post article "Authentic Romema," is (one version of) the amazing story:
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"In the wee hours of December 9, 1917, two British army cooks from the 60th London Division left their Jerusalem base in search of fresh eggs and vegetables for their commander. Less than six weeks had passed since Commonwealth troops had breached the Turkish lines in Israel for the first time and conquered Beersheba; earlier that very morning the British had captured Jerusalem from the Turks, as well.
As the cooks walked through a deserted field on an exposed hill, they were accosted by a number of residents anxious to surrender the city. Among them were four policemen, several youths, the Jerusalem mayor Hussein Selim el-Husseini and a photographer from the American Colony.
Upon sighting British soldiers, the Jerusalemites lifted their arms. They held a white sheet that had been hastily torn off one of the beds at the American Colony’s hospital. Attached to a broom handle, the sheet was the Jerusalemites’ makeshift flag of truce. The mayor then handed the cook and his aide a tender of capitulation, explaining that the Turks had fled the city.
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When the soldiers returned to base, they told their commander what had happened. He was so upset that the ’ceremony’ had taken place without him, that he ordered the mayor to return to the hill, and conducted a second surrender. However, that officer’s commander was furious that he hadn’t been present at either surrender, so he held a third ceremony on the same spot.
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But General Sir Edmund Allenby, commander in chief of the British-Anzac Egyptian Expeditionary Force, was unimpressed by the three surrenders. On December 11, 1917, he entered the Old City of Jerusalem and conducted yet another capitulation ceremony. Unfortunately, the mayor was unable to attend — he is said to have contracted pneumonia after standing on the exposed hill for the three previous ceremonies and to have died soon afterward.
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Ignoring the location and circumstances of the fourth and final surrender, soldiers of the 60th London Division decided to erect a three-meter-high monument near the original site in 1920."
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For more photos and stories from around the world visit the friendly blogger-tour guides at our new That's My World Tuesday. Free tours! No tipping, except maybe to leave a comment. :)
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UPDATE Sept. 2014:  A photograph of the surrender to the two British soldiers is now here!
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30 comments:

antigoni said...

Very good post!

Luiz Ramos said...

Beautiful your City report. Great your Jerusalem World.

Louise said...

So interesting! Leave it to you to "dig up" this kind of thing!

Your EG Tour Guide said...

Hmmm. Politics! Will they ever change? Great story.

Sylvia K said...

Great post! Really interesting history and the photos are beautiful. Always look forward to learning more about Jerusalem from your weekly "my world"! Thank you for all of it!

ewok1993 said...

Very interesting post.

richies said...

Sounds like in the end they were very well surrendered

An Arkie's Musings

babooshka said...

Your posts are a my world everyday. Absolutely fascinating every time.

Leora said...

Neat! And you are the only person I've read who's posted on that piece of history. And you reminded me of the Allenby Bridge, so I looked up that one, too.

Indrani said...

That was an interesting story from history. Great post.

bennie and patsy said...

That is very interesting.I to am learning so much from your post.
Patsy

Petrea said...

What an amazing story, Dina. Thank you for the research. I had no idea. Every city has history, but it seems Jerusalem has an extra dose!

Katney said...

Ah, it reminds me of Americqan President William Henry Harrison--not known for anything he accomplished during his term of office, but because, having given a two hour long inauguration speech in a frigid January Washington, also caught pneumonia and died a month later.

I pity the poor mayor. President Harrison, at least, had the opportunity to give a shorter speech.

Wren said...

Great tour. I hadn't heard the stories, but I find them believable. What an interesting place to live.

Lilli & Nevada said...

Wonderful photos and post thanks for sharing

Gaelyn said...

What an amazing story. Nice captures.

Dirk said...

Nice pictures and a lesson in history. Interesting and amusing story, not funny for the enemy, surrendering four times.

Leon Basin said...

You have an awesome blog. I'm Jewish and I love seeing these kind of photos. I would love to learn more about the history of Jerusalem. Do you have any suggestions for books?

Clara said...

Sounds like politics as usual. It's a great story. Thanks for sharing it.

Kay said...

Oh good grief! You've got to be kidding me. Sigh.....

Greyscale Territory said...

What an incredible story! And lovely photos!

mommanator said...

you certainly do know much about your city! I should get out and about here in Fla and learn more!
I probably couldn't do as well as you though!

Jedediah said...

Exploring a city on foot is a great thing. I love that story and particularly the title of the post *g*

Abraham Lincoln said...

Most interesting post. I read the whole thing and liked the description of the men looking for eggs for their commander.

Mediterranean kiwi said...

politics... don't mention it at the moment in Greece...

kjpweb said...

That's funny! Everyone should have his own decent surrender ceremony...
Good one!
Cheers, Klaus

Anonymous said...

Fascinating story Dina. I don't know Jerusalem so well but have spent hours waiting at the central bus station and had no idea what was just around the corner.

Kfar Sabarit

The Good Life in Virginia said...

a very interesting post and lovely photos. always enjoy reading your blog.
thanks for sharing.

ChrisC and JonJ said...

Great post!I learned something new,today.

Pietro said...

Excellent post, Dina.