A General and Gentleman – Allenby at the Gates of Jerusalem

One Hundred Years since the British Entrance to Jerusalem

Opening: December 2017

Throughout its history, the city of Jerusalem has known many historical and great moments. Some of those moments have become legendary. One such legendary moment is when General Edmund Allenby walked from the Jaffa Gate to the Tower of David Citadel during the afternoon of December 11, 1917.

“A Hanukah Miracle” and “a Christmas Present” are just two of the many titles given to the historical event in which the Ottomans, the city’s rulers for 400 years, were defeated by the British Empire, which crossed the country’s borders in the fall of 1917. Jerusalem, the city holy for Jews, Christians, and Muslims, now had a new government.

The General and Gentleman – Allenby at the Gates of Jerusalem exhibition, which will open at the Tower of David Museum on Monday, December 11, 2017, exactly one hundred years after the historic event, tracks the dramatic events that unfolded in just one week, a week that marked the beginning of a new and fascinating era in the history of Jerusalem, the Jewish Yishuv, and the entire Land of Israel.

The exhibition will focus on the events of the decisive days at the end of World War I, beginning with the morning of December 8, 1917, when the Turkish left in a great hurry, leaving behind an abandoned and neglected city and a letter of surrender for the city’s mayor.

The bearers of the white flag of surrender, which was improvised from torn sheets and a broomstick, went to search for the representatives of the British army, to whom the city would be handed over. There are many versions of what transpired next. Is it possible that Ottoman Jerusalem was surrendered to two simple cooks who by chance went out to search for provisions to make breakfast for the hungry British soldiers?

One hundred years after those dramatic days, the exhibition at the Tower of David will present a possible solution to the historic mystery through photographs and documents that will be exposed to the public for the first time and that will shed light on the events that transpired leading up to the climax of the story, which took place on December 11, 1917.

On December 11, 1917, on the steps of the entrance to the Tower of David Citadel stood a “Simple British General,” General Edmund Allenby, who, for the first time in the city’s history, addressed all of the city’s residents in a declaration that opened with the words, “Jerusalem the Blessed” and that was read in seven different languages, including Hebrew. General Allenby recognized the importance and uniqueness of Jerusalem and called upon all of its residents to continue living their lives as usual and to enjoy freedom of worship, religion, and tradition under the patronage of the new government. Many of the city’s residents who were present when the declaration was read burst into tears and the rest applauded with happiness.

One hundred years later, the Tower of David Citadel is the museum of the city of Jerusalem and an exhibition will be held at the very place where the dramatic events transpired. The exhibition will expound upon the new government’s first steps after World War I. It will also describe the significance of those historical days for all of the city’s residents and for the ever-changing Jewish Yishuv, which experienced General Allenby’s entry into the city just a little more than a month after the Balfour Declaration was signed, which resulted in feelings of happiness and tremendous hope.

The exhibition will feature movies, photographs, original and rare objects, certificates, posters, mementos, and personal tourism albums. One hundred years later, the Tower of David, the heart of Jerusalem, situated between the old city and the new city, will offer a fresh look at the legendary moments that changed Jerusalem forever.

Curators: Dr. Nirit Shalev-Khalifa, Dina Grossman

Design: Tucan Design Studio Ltd