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Theodor Herzl meets Wilhelm II in Jerusalem (1898)

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Then we were summoned to the emperor’s tent. The Kaiser stood there awaiting us, in his gray colonial uniform, a veiled helmet on his head, brown gloves and – oddly enough – a riding crop in his right hand. A few steps before the entrance I stood at attention and bowed. When I entered the Kaiser held out his hand to me in a very friendly way. A little off to the side stood Bülow in a dust-covered gray lounge suit, holding my revised draft in his hand.

My four companions stepped into the spacious tent behind me. I asked if I might introduce them, he nodded, I did so. At the mention of each name, he placed his hand to the visor of his helmet.

Then, after exchanging a glance with Bülow, I took my paper and read, at first in a muted and slightly quavering voice, then slowly très a mon aise [very much at ease]. From time to time I looked up from my paper and into his eyes, which he kept firmly fixed on me.

When I had finished, he spoke.

He said roughly the following:

“I thank you for your exposition, which has interested me greatly. The matter, in any case, still requires careful study and further discussion.” He then launched into some observations on the colonization to date. “The land needs water and shade, above all else.” He used some technical terms about agriculture and forestry. His observations had taught him, incidentally, that the soil was cultivable. “The settlements I saw, both those of the Germans and of your people [Landsleute], can serve as a model of what one can make of this land. The land has room for all. Just provide water and shade. The work of the colonies will also serve as a stimulating model for the native population. Your movement, which I know very well, contains a sound idea.”

He then assured us of his continued interest, and how he filled the remaining five or six minutes of his answer I no longer remember.

After his official answer was over, he shook my hand, though he did not dismiss us yet; instead, he drew me into a conversation with Bülow: “You know Herr v. Bülow, I presume?”

Did I know him! Bülow, who had read along my entire speech in Brouillon, tracing the words with his index finger, smiled sweetly. We spoke about the journey.

The Kaiser said: “The hottest time has just begun. The day we met was the worst. We took the temperature in Ramleh: 31º C [88º F] in the shade, 41º [106º F] in the sun.”

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