The Temple Society ("Tempelgesellschaft") was founded as an independent religious community by Christoph Hoffmann and Georg David Hardegg in Kirschenhardthof (Württemberg, Germany) in 1861, after they and their followers had been expelled from the Lutheran Church. The Society's roots lay in the pietistic movement in south-western Germany that developed within the Lutheran Church. The name of the community derives from the spiritual “temple” of God, the building of which was the duty of every believer. They believed their rightful place was in the Holy Land in anticipation of the Second Coming of Christ.
The first Templers arrived in Palestine in 1868 and established a colony in Haifa. Within two years other colonies were founded: in Jaffa, Sarona (today in Tel Aviv) and Jerusalem, and in 1902 and 1906, Wilhelma (Bnei Atarot) and Bethlehem (Beit Lehem ha-Glilit), respectively. Some families which had re-associated themselves with the Lutheran Church established Waldheim (Alonei Aba) in 1907. The Templers engaged in agriculture, industry and transport and imported modern technological methods into the land contributing significantly to its development.
On the eve of World War I the number of Germans living in Palestine was around 2200, two thirds of whom were Templers. During World War II the British authorities deported most of the Templers from Palestine suspecting them of anti-Allied tendencies. A remaining group of 50 Templers left the country with the establishment of the State of Israel.
German Colony in Haifa, 1930s