Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Das Deutsche Johanniter-Hospiz in Jerusalem

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Das Deutsche Johanniter-Hospiz in Jerusalem

Article excerpt

Late Modern European

Das Deutsche Johanniter-Hospiz in Jerusalem. By Jakob Eisler. (Cologne: Böhlau Verlag. 2013. Pp. 232. euro30,80. ISBN 978-3-412-20571-3.)

Jakob Eisler documents a place of great importance to generations of German pilgrims, missionaries, and scholars of the Middle East. The Guesthouse of the German Order of Saint John (Johanniter) was much more than its name suggests. The Johanniter are well known in Germany for their hospitals, emergency healthcare services, and charitable work. Resurrected in 1853 by Prussia's King Frederick William IV, the Knightly Order of Saint John (of the Bailey of Brandenburg) claimed the crusading Hospitalers as its lineage. The Order continues today as a Protestant institution, and its Herrenmeisteren (Lord Masters) still come from the Hohenzollern family: Oscar Prinz von Preussen currently serves as Herrenmeister. The term guesthouse or Hospiz can also be misleading. The Johanniter Hospiz in Jerusalem served as a hotel for European dignitaries and scholars, a hostel for German pilgrims and journeymen, and a hospital for all in times of conflict.

As an institutional history for the Order of Saint John, Eisler's study details the religious and charitable impulses that weave through the story of western incursion in the Middle East. Eisler points out that Jerusalem was a focal point of intensive European missionary efforts in the nineteenth century. Combining romanticized nationalism and Christianity with heated competition for global markets and world power, European enclaves in the city expanded dramatically. Eisler describes the creation of the original Prussian Guesthouse (1851-58), its transition to the Johanniter in 1858, its vigorous expansion under the Ottoman Empire (18581914/18), its unfortunate downfall from World War I to 1963, and the re-establishment of the Hospiz since 1964. …

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