The German Connection

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Haifa marks 40 years of twin cities relations with Germany

Currently, Haifa has five German twin cities—Bremen, Mainz, Erfurt, Düsseldorf and Mannheim—the relations with which are steadfast and bustling. The last agreement was signed with Mannheim in 2009, but the first one was already signed with Bremen forty years ago, merely three years after the first visit of an Israeli Prime Minister—Yitzhak Rabin—in Germany.

Haifa City Museum

The cooperation between Haifa and its twin cities in Germany is among the most fruitful and stable the city has, revolving around science and research, tourism, economy, youth, art and culture, sports and education. These strong ties of friendship are steadily and earnestly cultivated by Haifa Mayor, Mr. Yona Yahav, who received from the President of the Federal Republic of Germany the Große Verdienstkreuz—Germany's Federal Cross of Merit—for his promotion and reinforcement of the ties between Germany and Israel in general, and between Haifa and its twin cities in Germany in particular.

Mainz has been maintaining close friendly relationship with Haifa for many years. The Haifa-Mainz twin cities agreement was signed in 1987. The Magentza House Youth Club; Mainz Library; a senior citizens club; and Jockel Fuchs House (Sinai Club), are among the establishments erected with the help of Mainz.

Haifa's friendship relations with Bremen began in 1976, with the formation of the Haifa Arts Foundation—dedicated to promoting the cultural life and the arts in Haifa—a joint project of Haifa municipality, the Ministry of Education and Culture in Israel and the Senate of the Free City of Bremen. The Haifa-Bremen twin cities agreement was signed in 1978.

A delegation of politicians from Bremen's Parliament visited Haifa on May 2017. During the visit, the German delegation presented Mayor Yahav with a donation for tree planting in Haifa, following the November 2016 fires. There are collaborations between academic institutions in Haifa and equivalent institutions in Bremen, delegations of students from Bremen visit Israel, and Haifa draws assistance from Bremen's vast knowledge regarding conservation.

The initial connection between Haifa and Düsseldorf was created following the performance of the Youth Orchestra of Düsseldorf in Haifa in the 1970s. This led to a tradition of exchanges between the Clara Schumann School of Music in Düsseldorf and Yuval Music Center in Haifa. The Haifa–Düsseldorf twin cities agreement was signed in 1988. Following the November 2016 fires in Haifa, Düsseldorf municipality and its residents gave an estimable donation to assist with the rehabilitation efforts. The city of Düsseldorf also contributed to the establishment of the Heinrich Heine Community Center in Kiryat Haim West; Heine, the great poet, was deeply fond of his hometown, Düsseldorf.

In 2015, the mayors of Haifa and Düsseldorf signed a cooperation agreement, especially as regards the establishment of parenting schools. Haifa municipality and the city of Düsseldorf united to establish a parents center in Düsseldorf, based on the young parents center Horev 14, in Haifa. The Center provides services for young parents and assists them in a wide range of areas such as economic planning, registration in kindergartens and schools, assistance in finding work and housing suitable for young couples. A constant contact exists between Carmel Hospital in Haifa and Augusta Hospital in Düsseldorf.

haifa museum2

From top left, clockwise: flags of Mainz, Düsseldorf, Erfurt, Bremen, Haifa, Mannheim

Erfurt's initial contact with Haifa began at the initiative of former Mayor of Erfurt, Mr. Manfred Ruge, who sought to renew the ties with Israel after the reunification of Germany. The twin cities agreement with Erfurt was signed in 2005. In October 2015, the mayors of Erfurt and Haifa signed an educational cooperation agreement between Ironi Aleph School in Haifa and Albert Schweitzer Gymnasium in Erfurt. The cities also conduct collaborations in the fields of education and high-tech. 

Delegates from Haifa Municipality co-designed the Twin Cities Garden in Erfurt's Egapark. Erfurt City Council extensively conserved the Alte Synagoge, one of the best preserved medieval synagogues in Europe; Haifa city official attended the inauguration.

The Haifa–Mannheim twin cities agreement was signed in 2009. The cooperation between Haifa and Mannheim began with the firm and strong relations of 23 years between Kiryat Haim School and Elisabeth school in Mannheim.  During those years, over 800 students participated in exchanges and contributed to the friendship that has developed between the cities; Two trainees from came to Haifa and stayed for three with the Security Department, and one month with External Relations Office, respectively.

As of now, Leo Baeck School maintains close relations with Karl Friedrich Gymnasium and Lessing Gymnasium in Mannheim. The City of Mannheim has donated a hefty sum after the November 2016 fires in Haifa. Rambam hospital maintains contact with Mannheimer Universitätsklinikum, and Haifa provides advice to the City of Mannheim in early detection of learning disabilities.

In 2000, the Haifa City Museum, located in the first Templar building of the German Colony—that originally served as the Templar community center—underwent massive conservation and restoration work, thanks to a generous donation from 16 States of the Federal Republic of Germany, made possible by the assistance of Bremen, Dusseldorf and Mainz.

Last year, representatives of Haifa Chamber of Commerce visited the chambers of commerce in Haifa's five twin cities in Germany.

This is just the tip of the iceberg of the deep friendship between Haifa and its twin cities in Germany. Doubtlessly, the future carries tremendous promise of continued cooperation, strengthening the relationship and fulfillment of enriching and inspiring projects.