Pre-State Israel, in Color

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If you close your eyes and try to picture the Holocaust, or the birth of the State of Israel, you’re probably picturing it in black and white, right? Because all of the images you know from those times are in black and white.

Well, color film existed in those days, it was just really expensive, which meant very few people had it. But a rich American named Fred Monosson was able to afford it and took it along with him on his lengthy adventures in Israel, Europe and the Middle East starting in 1947. He hobnobbed with Golda Meir and David Ben Gurion. He visited the kotel in 1947 and hung out at a cocktail party with friends during the War of Independence. He welcomed Jews from Yemen, visited Auschwitz, and saw British soldiers arrest Jewish immigrants from Europe–all of which he also captured on color film.

Check out the video below (Hebrew with English subtitles) about the newly discovered film reels of Monosson and his recordings of Jewish history.

Posted on April 27, 2010

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27 thoughts on “Pre-State Israel, in Color

  1. Patricia Agnew

    Thank you for this extremely rare piece of history. What a treat to see this period of time in color!

  2. John Hanks

    This color film is priceless. A lot of black and white film is being colorized, which is deceptive. I would like to see film like this of the Russian front.

  3. Russ Bachman

    What fun to see such history in vibrant color. It gives our jewish existence the excitement we know is there but is not fully translated when filmed in black and white. I can’t wait to see more…

  4. Ruti Kagan

    Since I was there at that time it was of course always in color in my memories.
    But having it documented now is really amazing, and a real find.

  5. Mark B. A. Cappetta

    This is an amazing find of colorful cinematic history! I would love to see the documentary when it is finished; hopefully with English subtitles. Shalom!

  6. Avner

    What a difference to how things look today.
    Innocent days then? I am not sure
    How similar – Hon and Shilton, not in Monosson case.

  7. Juan

    I`m very privileged to see this very rare footage of the jew history. The chosen people of the Almighty. God bless Israel, Shalom Adonai

  8. NHGoodman

    Re: Monson’s COLOR films of the founding of the State of Israel.

    I have no words. The brief summary film has left me breathless. Joyous but breathless. What an act of love and devotion.

    I am watching just before Lag B’Omer and I am … well, just awed.

    Nachum Ben Avraham v’Sheyndle

  9. Tova Wald

    Thank you for a rare privilege to partake in this colorful journey of Israel’s past history. Due credit goes to Fred Monosson’s passion to seek out events and “capture the moment” on film. Color is life. It variates our visual observations and adds a focused, lingering dimension. It would be interesting to learn more about Monosson. I’m very much looking forward to getting the DVD of this movie.

  10. B. Misgav

    You read, and you see even dreaming it is black and white, it was trully amazing. I would very much like to see the full length version. These are things your parents spoke to you and you tried to picture in your mind , but he gave it to us in color.
    There are no words

  11. Miriam FinderTasini

    As I watched it I could not believe how he managed to pick up the everyday life experiences of those of us who lived there. When I was a little girl it was a special treat to eat ice cream at Cafe Piltz with my mother where she often met her friends. The pictures did manage to capture that life just went on even as one war followed another.

  12. Birte Edwards

    What a treasure. So easy to forget that life went on despite everything. Even these short extracts had me speechless.
    Now I just hope to see the full footage.
    My hat off also to Avishai Kfir who realized what he had come across, and now bringing it to us

  13. Nachman

    Thank y so much for this view of the past in color. It would be wonderful if more film of this caliber could be found.

  14. Samuel

    A powerful message in color, to our Muslim enemies ,on nation building and responsibility that comes with it,but will they watch this and heed the lessons,time should tell?

  15. avram

    This awesome, and magnifcent, who to be able to see the complete movie when released

  16. Stephen & Batia Vishnick

    The colour footage truly shows and enhances the great spirit of the Israeli people to overcome all obstacles to build a magnificent democratic nation.

  17. Norman Spiro

    Your films are treasure, as indeed are mine. I was here in 1948/9 as a volunteer from South Africa(Machalnik)I brought with me a simple 8mm Kodak camera wtith some black and white films and also some COLOUR ones.I certainly cannot compare my amateur efforts with your wonderful professional records. I have films of Israel’s first indepenence day with shots of Ben Gurion, Sharet, Sprinzak etc… coming out of the synagogue in Alenby street. Also shots of my participation in operation Hiram in the Gallee–this in colour. I also have a record of my journey to Israel by ship from Marseille where we picked up 400 refugees.The diaspora museum have a copy on a DVD disk, and only recently I appeared on television (channel 10) telling the story of my films and showing records of what I have filmed in Israel.Wonderful memories

  18. Shelagh Coop

    Unbelievable and so moving, such hope and spirit. When I saw the young people dancing at Dahlia Kibbutz, I could hardly believe it was the neighbouring kibbuts to Ramat Hashofet where I spent 6 very happy months in 1957. I just hope this film engenders a little warmth to today’s approach to Israel by our often hostile media.

  19. Dr. Joe Wagner

    My Professor of Philosophy at the University of Toronto was Emil Fackenheim who later emigrated to Israel. His writings became world famous among Jewish people, particularly for his Eleventh Commandment: “THOU SHALT NOT FORGET!” These colour films of Auschwitz and Israel’s early days are a treasure to be preserved. When I visited Israel in 1972 to attend an international scientific meeting, it was with a mixture of pride,joy and sadness that I saw young Israeli soldiers casually walking about (off duty) carrying Uzi machine guns. Sadness that Jews must ever be prepared to defend themselves, joy that we were prepared to do so. To-day Israel again receives much bad press in the media from the confrontation with a flotilla carrying supplies to Gaza. Refusing to permit a peaceful inspection of their cargo, boarding Israeli soldiers were met with violence. So it must be concluded they were carrying not just food and medical supplies, but arms to continue Arab attacks on Israel. Yet the press is overwhelmingly negative against the Israelis. There is no question that these ships were providing aid and comfort to the enemy, an enemy bent on the destruction of Israel and killing of Jews. So G-d (if he is listening) bless and preserve Israel.

    Dr. Joe Wagner, Los Angeles

  20. Sue Blake

    I feel like this is a film G_d has unearther to bless the people in Israel and around the World.

  21. avishai kfir

    Shalom Tamar
    Thank your for your very warm introduction to my movie ‘I was there in color’ I enclose a link to the movie website for your readers who may want to buy the complete movie in English or Hebrew narration.
    Once again Todda Rabba
    Avishai Kfir

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