1960 - 2010

                                    50  YEARS PHILIPPINES - WILHELMSFELD                 


                                           "The Wilhelmsfeld Story of José Rizal"

                                                              by Dr. Paz Policarpio Mendez

                      (from her book: "Adventures in Rizaliana", Manila 1978)


    In a little village called Wilhelmsfeld, resting on a hill in the Odenwald forests in West Germany, the name José Rizal lives today. It will live there for as long as a plaque remains where it was affixed on a three-story century - old stone house on January 4, 1960. Today travellers from the Philippines wander from the beaten path into that remote corner of Germany to look at the dedication carved in gold letters on the black marble of that plaque, below the embossed red - white - blue escutcheon of the Philippine Historical Committee, as follows (from its original German):

                                                                                       José Rizal

                                                    (1861 - 1896)

                      National Hero of the Philippines, wrote the last chapters of

            his novel Noli Me Tangere in this house while a guest of Pastor Ullmer

                                                       in 1886.


        A stone's throw from the Protestant church, the house is the official residence of the Vicar of Wilhelmsfeld. At the time of Rizal, it was occupied by Pastor Karl Ullmer, whose house guest Rizal was and who later became the hero's devoted friend.

How did Rizal happen to wander that way? Who was Pastor Ullmer and how did our hero come to live in his house?

There appears to be only one Rizal letter postmarked Wilhelmsfeld, June 9, 1886. It says nothing about the circumstances of his coming to the village, and merely recites his money difficulties and his desire to go back to the Philippines to help his family. However, in one of his letters to Father Pablo Pastells, Rizal writes about his almost daily meetings with a Protestant pastor in the solitudes of Odenwald during the long summer twilights of 1886. He and the pastor often discussed their respective beliefs in all calmness and freedom, and both agreed that religion should not make enemies but brothers of men despite differences in race, education, or age. If there was anything those discussions taught him, according to Rizal, it was to respect every man's honest views and acts. And he recalled how a Catholic priest, an intimate friend of the Pastor's, would come from across the Rhine to set the example of true Christian brotherhood. Both considered themselves servants of the same God, each doing his duty instead of quarreling. They left it to their Master to judge who was the better interpreter of His will.

I have always believed that those meetings took place in Wilhelmsfeld.

That village (not Wilhelmsdorf as I thought in the beginning) has elicited my interest ever since I wrote a biography of Rizal during the Japanese occupation. Something told me that a Rizaliana treasure awaited me there, so I began to explore. In June 1959, my husband and I undertook to retrace Rizal's wanderings in Strasbourg, Coblenz, Bingen, Mainz, and Heidelberg. We had a very delightful boat ride along the Rhine with a full view of the ruined castles and forts on both sides of the river. In the morning sunshine we saw the legendary rock, Lorelei, made famous by Heine's poems. The rock probably reminded Rizal, as it did us, of Mariang Makiling of our own Philippine legend.

We stopped at Heidelberg and took pictures of two addresses furnished by the José Rizal National Centennial Commission. One of the addresses - no. 16 Karlstrasse - must have attracted Rizal especially because of the full view it afforded from its back window of the ruins of an old castle reputed to be the most beautiful in all Germany. Soon after, Rizal moved to another address - no.12 Ludwig Platz, now renamed Grabengasse - just across the famed Heidelberg University. These are the known Rizal residences in the old university town. But where was the eye clinic of Dr. Becker where Rizal worked for a time? Was it 18 Karlstrasse, as indicated to me by the Rizal Commission? I hardly thought so, considering how the street was - short, narrow, and covered with cobblestones.So we gave up the idea and went elsewhere, this time to the University library. The trip proved rewarding, for there we learned that Dr. Becker had at one time been Director of the University's eye clinic, which still is part of the University hospital. 



                                         Cover of "Adventures in Rizaliana" by Dr. Paz P. Mendez                  

  Cover designed by Rodolfo Garzon depicts José Rizal and some of the places where Dr.P.P.Mendez made researches on the national hero's life: Heidelberg-Castle (Germany), Brussels (Belgium) and Wilhelmsfeld-Rizal-plaque (Germany); 2nd row, below: Paris-Clinic Dr.de Wecker (France), Dapitan-House of Rizal (Philippines) and on top: New York (USA)

Having found the clinic where Rizal undertook further studies we went to another address I had noted in the Epistolario Rizalino - no. 11 Obere Neckar Strasse. It is a narrow street, close to the Karl - Theodor bridge, one of the two bridges in existence in Rizal's time. The building, of brick and stone, was constructed in 1840 and is much newer than those on Karlstrasse and Grabengasse. Looking over the layout, I surmised that during his sojourn in Wilhelmsfeld, Rizal had to travel to Heidelberg and back, and must have found the Obere Neckar Strasse address very convenient. Now, where did his friend Pastor Ullmer reside? Finding no modern Ullmer listed in the Heidelberg directory, I concluded that he must have lived in Wilhelmsfeld.

That was how, by an irresistible impulse, I decided to go there on June 9, 1959, by coincidence the 73rd anniversary of the one extant Rizal letter posted at Wilhelmsfeld. We motored through 15 kilometers of narrow zigzag roads which reminded us sometimes of Baguio, sometimes of Los Baños, and inevitably of Mt. Makiling. We reached the village on the top of a hill and proceeded to the inn Schriesheimer Hof in the center of town. We had a succulent lunch of pig's feet, sauerkraut, and beer, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Many people were eating their lunch,  and they seemed nice, but language proved a difficult barrier. No one could tell us anything about Rizal. Although not happy, we did not feel frustrated. The drive through the wooded hills had been exhilarating, and we felt positive Rizal had been there and had seen what we saw, breathed the same mountain air we breathed. Perhaps he had eaten pig's feet and sauerkraut at the same inn!


The famous inn: "Schriesheimer Hof" in Wilhelmsfeld Dr.José Rizal had visited in 1886

We drove back to Paris after lunch, undaunted by our setback. The next day I wrote a letter to the parish authorities of Wilhelmsfeld. I had the letter translated into German at the UNESCO, and quickly dispatched it. The letter came back. That was a sad day for me, and I did not write again for some three weeks. Then all at once my Rizaliana intuition perked up and I found myself addressing a letter to the owner of the inn, who had been very nice to us on the day we ate lunch there. This time I wrote if she would be good enough to find out for me where a young Filipino doctor named José Rizal stayed in the summer of 1886. I assured her that he had stayed at Wilhelmsfeld, but where exactly? I asked many other questions. My deep concern must have had its impact on her: for after six weeks of silence a letter came. It was postmarked Wilhelmsfeld, and the letterhead read Evangelisches Pfarramt

I rushed to UNESCO for a translation, and before long the plot of a new Rizal story was unfolding - the Wilhelmsfeld story. The good lady had referred my letter to the Vicar of Wilhelmsfeld, and now the Vicar was writing me to say that José Rizal had lived in the vicarage, right in the house he was occupying! Yes, Pfarrer (Pastor) Weber had not forgotten a story told to him by Friedrich Ullmer, a lawyer son of Pastor Ullmer, who died not so long ago. The lawyer had once come to revisit the home of his childhood, and among other things he recalled to Pastor Weber how Kaiserin Elisabeth, Empress of Austria, had once upon a time been a visitor in that house. There was a tiny bronze marker on the door of the dining room which she had graced by her presence.

According to Friedrich, she was lively and beautiful, and loved to take long walks among the hills. (In my memory book she lives as Sissi, the heroine in Fritz Kreisler's operetta by that title, currently showing in Paris). But to Friedrich, the memory of the Kaiserin was overshadowed by that of another visitor - a young Filipino doctor who stayed with his family in the summer of 1886. Friedrich (nicknamed Fritz) was only thirteen then, but many years later he remembered José Rizal vividly and seemed to see him at his desk writing far into the night. He remembered that on the wall before Rizal was a big map of the Philippines, and the boy could not help being impressed by the Filipino's devotion to his country.

Pastor Weber wrote me of the veneration with which Friedrich spoke of the man from the Philippines. The pastor learned from him that after Rizal left the Ullmer house, he wrote postcards to the family from Berlin, Manila, Hongkong, and London. (These are among the relics in the Ullmer collection). One day the Ullmer family was shocked to read in a Frankfurt newspaper about a revolution that had broken out in the Philippines, and how its leader, José Rizal, had been executed by a firing squad. The boy Fritz could hardly believe his eyes. Pastor Ullmer immediately wrote the German Consul in Manila to inquire if that José Rizal was the same young doctor who had been their beloved guest. The consul's reply (also in the Ullmer collection) was that in all probability the José Rizal executed was their man.

I was now convinced by the abundant testimony of Pastor Weber that Rizal had indeed lived in the vicarage with the Ullmers. Thereafter the correspondence between Paris and the little village in the Odenwald hills grew in volume.

My next objective became the Ullmer descendants. Where were they and how could we locate them? Surely they must be in existence somewhere, and in their possession must be some relics of Rizal. I thought I could interest Pastor Weber in the Filipino hero, and so I sent him a brochure of the José Rizal National Centennial Commission and a copy of Rizal's A Las Flores de Heidelberg  in Spanish, English, and French (the latter a free translation by a French friend of ours). And my husband did not forget a box of Manila cigars, ever a best bet of his public relations.

In his succeeding letters Pfarrer Weber insisted that we return to Wilhelmsfeld. He had more to tell us and the possibilities were great for discovery. His insistence encouraged us indeed. I would continue my research in the village and find more leads. Since I felt sure Manila would approve my recommendation to place a plaque on the Vicar's house, I wrote to accept the invitation, and would Pastor Weber in the meantime be good enough to look around for further clues? I prodded him with questions. What was the name of the Catholic priest who became friend of both Pastor Ullmer's and Rizal's? What means of transport did Rizal use when going to Heidelberg from Wilhelmsfeld, and how long did the trip take? What kind of community was Wilhelmsfeld? Could he locate Pastor Ullmer's descendants?

To my pleasant surprise, Pastor Weber turned out to be an infatigable co-worker. He went to see Halmut Ullmer (=Helmut Ullmer, the Webm.), the late Friedrich Ullmer's son, in a town (=Rastatt, the Webm.) fifty kilometers distant from Heidelberg. Halmut said that his older sister Etta in Heidelberg would have more to say. In reporting this first lead to the Ullmer Rizaliana, Pastor Weber answered my query about the Catholic priest. He was Father Heinrich (= Hermann, the Webm.) Bardorf, and he must have spent hours with Rizal and Pastor Ullmer in friendly discussions at Schriesheimer Hof. That was the very inn where we had eaten our lunch on June 9. He went on to say that the owner of the inn was a great friend of Pastor Ullmer's. He thought it was probable that the three friends also went to a neighboring village, Pfalz (= name of the inn, located in the village of Schriesheim, the Webm.), where the wine was good, for Pastor Ullmer loved good wine. To my other query about the way Rizal travelled between Wilhelmsfeld and Heidelberg, the vicar assured me that in those days the normal means of locomotion was one's legs, and it was a good three hours' walk each way.

My great expectations of Wilhelmsfeld's Rizaliana were approaching realization all the while the Rizal plaque was taking shape in Paris. Another letter from our investigator friend sparked my hopes anew. There were in existence, said Pastor Weber, several letters from Rizal in German, an original copy of the first edition of Noli Me Tangere with a dedication by Rizal to Pastor Karl Ullmer, some sketches by our hero, and other interesting relics. Our friend had followed his lead from Halmut and had found Etta, his sister, who is now the wife of a general medical practitioner. But more important, her two sons, Hans and Fritz Hack, had custody of the Rizal papers - "souvenirs" Pastor Weber called them. And so it came to pass that the two young Hacks were added to our list of correspondents.

"As you very well know," they wrote later, "Dr. Rizal lived in Wilhelmsfeld in the house of our grandfather, Friedrich Ullmer. It was in Wilhelmsfeld that Rizal wrote parts of his book ... He was loved by the whole family. Our grandfather, although then only a boy, had warm feelings for the venerable Dr. Rizal. He used to show us letters and sketches by Dr. Rizal, also a Noli Me Tangere dedicated to our great grandfather. Before he died in 1953, our grandfather gave them to my brother and me." And the two brothers invited us to their house in Heidelberg to look over the "souvenirs".

We were thrilled at the prospect of reading hitherto unpublished Rizal letters and of holding in our hands relics which no other Filipino had seen or heard of. There remained one obstacle - the weather. How would Wilhelmsfeld look in the winter? Would that narrow zigzag road over the hills from Heidelberg be passable? What about those valleys - they didn't look inviting, and if there should be ice on the ground, what then?

The vicar's answer was reassuring: he had driven through hills on his way to Paris one winter to visit his daughter Ursula at the Sorbonne, and he had a comfortable trip. If we could come, say, on the 26th of December, that would be fine. We could then have a real celebration like the one described by Rizal in his novel. Our good friend had apparently been reading about the Noche Buena in Noli.       

We happened to have an engagement to place another Rizal plaque in Ghent, Belgium, and could not make it on the 26th. But early in the morning of January 1, we were on our way. It was drizzling as we started, and becoming rainy, dark, and dreary as we progressed. A Spanish copy of Noli kept us company through the ten-hour trip which was otherwise easy but for one load we had to look after with special care. This was the Rizal marble plaque destined for the vicarage of Wilhelmsfeld. It weighed around twenty pounds, and while we had the Paris Embassy chauffeur to carry it to the train, we were not sure of facilities in Heidelberg. Sure enough, when we reached that city in the evening, no porter was around, and my husband had to act as one.  After we had walked for about five minutes with the plaque in his arms, a porter materialized, to the relief of both heart and blood pressure.

Night had descended and the rain was pouring. It didn't look safer to motor than to stay the night in Heidelberg, but this would mean one more stop for the plaque with the risk of breakage or loss. No, what was to be a marker of history must proceed to its destination, notwithstanding the rain, the darkness, and ascent over the hills. And so, at nine o'clock on that first night of the year 1960, the plaque was resting safely on the round table in the living room of the Weber family in Wilhelmsfeld. Rizal, so to speak, had returned to the house that had given him shelter 74 years before.

Pastor Weber did not turn out to be the old man we had expected to be. He is in his middle fifties, erect, and full of life. He has five children, consisting of two sets of two girls, aged 23 and 13, and a 16-year-old boy. Mrs. Weber was friendly and set us at ease in no time. Soon the Pastor was unwrapping the Alhambra Coronas and Tabacalera Superking we had brought as Christmas presents, and was proclaiming them the best in the world.

During our stay in Wilhelmsfeld, the vicar served not only as our guide but also our chauffeur. He called himself jokingly "chauffeur dangereux" - which, he said, spelled out the "CD" (Corps Diplomatic) on the license plate of a diplomat's car. He said this while his left hand was on the wheel and his right was gesticulating for emphasis or to make up for what he couldn't express in English. This joke was funny but we weren't laughing. The narrow road was hardly visible in the driving rain, and a rather ugly valley yawned beside us. 

At this time we were descending the highlands for a call on the Landrat, Mr. Steinbrenner, who is a sort of Mayor for the hilly district surrounding Heidelberg. He was the official who had given the permission for the Rizal plaque to be placed in the Wilhelmsfeld vicarage. From his place we were driven to the residence of the Hack family. A huge Christmas tree stood in the living room into which we were welcomed and served drinks and homemade star-shaped cookies.

We could see that the Hacks were happy at meeting probably the first countrymen of the Rizal they knew so much about. The head of the family, Dr. Hack, spoke not a word of English, but his wife Etta knew a smattering of both English and French. Their two sons, Hans, 22, and Fritz, 23, were tall, slim, and good-looking. Hans is a student of law, Fritz of medicine. Both speak English and French fairly well.

The Rizaliana collection, preserved in an antique wooden chest, was brought out and opened before us. What a treasury of history it contained! What tender memories of a great man!

Our first question to the Hacks was, how did the Ullmers and Rizal come to know each other? The answer: one day Pastor Ullmer, his wife, and their children Etta and Fritz, were walking along the famous Philosophenweg, a forest path in the Odenwald, when they met a young Filipino who was also out on a stroll. They exchanged greetings and must have become friends in no time. I ventured to say that Rizal may have commented on, or at least observed, the beauty of the spring flowers, for I remembered that his poem "To the flowers of Heidelberg" was dated April 22, and two days later on April 24, 1886, he was writing Pastor Ullmer of his desire to live in the country. Thanks to the pastor's Rizaliana instinct, the letter was now before us, with all the freshness of Heidelberg's flowers. 

"I have been told," wrote Rizal to Pastor Ullmer, "that the inhabitants of Wilhelmsfeld speak a German dialect. Would it be possible for me to stay in your house and not with strangers? Your friendship is very precious to me and I would be learning good German. However, if the arrangement is not convenient to you, I would be glad to stay in another house you may recommend." 

An invitation from the pastor to live in his house must have followed immediately, for a letter from Paris (most probably from Juan Luna), dated May 19 and addressed to Rizal at Ludwig Platz 12, was forwarded to Wilhelmsfeld.

The Ullmer collection of letters revealed amusing as well as touching incidents in Rizal's Heidelberg - Wilhelmsfeld period. In June he wrote the pastor from Heidelberg, complaining of delay in cashing a letter of credit he had received from home. Then he told of how a hungry dog kept following him. He gave it a good lunch of milk and bread. In closing, he thanked the pastor again for the warm friendship of his family and extended an invitation to visit the Philippines. "In my country," he wrote, "you will always find a good friend, that is, if I don't die soon." As early as that, he had his premonitions.

Rizal thoroughly enjoyed his stay in Wilhelmsfeld, where he endeared himself to every member of the Ullmer family. With the two children, Etta and Fritz, he would roam the countryside and pick mushrooms and wild berries. There were discussions with Pastor Ullmer on philosophy and religion all the time that he was perfecting his German. (The Hacks told me that Rizal wrote excellent German.) With his enriched knowledge of the German way of life he was able to insert here and there in the Noli reverences to the customs and folklore of the people. Time and distance had mellowed his feelings, and he toned down many of criticisms as he looked at things in their just proportion and in their correct perspective.

The draft of the Noli must have been completed in Wilhelmsfeld. This is shown by the fact that upon arrival in Leipzig in August of that year, he went immediately to the printers to inquire about facilities. Most likely, minor changes were made in Berlin. On November 2 he wrote the Ullmers from Berlin to say that he had come from Leipzig and intended to stay for a few months in the German capital. As soon as the Noli was off the press, he sent a copy to Wilhelmsfeld with his dedication "To the Reverend Pastor Ullmer from his friend and guest Jose Rizal."

In May 1887, as Rizal prepared to go home, he sent the pastor a photo of himself, with a request for the Pastor's picture in return. From Munich he wrote Fritz to apologize for not answering the boy's letter sooner for lack of anything important to say. He added: "Tell your good mother that I will write her from my home. I will never forget how she and the pastor were so kind to me when I was completely unknown and without friends... I am going home, perhaps never to return." He closed his letter by giving his address in Calamba.

On July 28, 1887 he sent a postcard from Malakka. By that time he had again left the Philippines because he was obliged by circumstances to return to Europe. Followed a postcard from Hongkong, dated February 9, 1888. On June 8 of the same year he wrote a long letter from London.

"I had to leave my motherland," he wrote, "because of my book. The governor sent for me to ask for a copy. The priests were very excited and wanted to accuse me. But they did not know how they could do so, for all I wrote was true and historically accurate. The archbishop wanted to excommunicate me...

"Here (in London) I am writing a new book. 

"My countrymen received Noli Me Tangere very well. The edition is completely sold out. The government and the Church forbade it, which was worse, for everybody then wanted to buy a copy.  I will be very glad if you would write me from time to time. I will never forget the quiet days I have lived with you.

"The story of my return trip is too long and difficult to understand for one who does not know the life and conditions in the Philippines. My family would not allow me to eat in other houses for fear that I might be poisoned.

"Friends and enemies alike visited me, and while the latter burned copies of my book, the former bought them at fifty pesos each. The book sellers had a good business, but I did not make any money. The priests wanted to exile me, but the Governor said I must first be accused and the judge must decide whether I had committed a crime. I left my country in order that my parents could have peace.

"Now I am here again in a free land breathing the free air of Europe."

The Ullmer collection consists not only of seven letters and two postcards and an original Noli, but also of several sketches in pencil and water color. There are pencil sketches of the boy Fritz, of Ephigenia of Greek mythology, of a Roman with a dagger, two faces and a German girl with long hair, probably Etta. There is a humorous caricature in ink showing a young man bowing to a lady and producing havoc on all objects behind him, including the ceiling lamp. Most interesting is a comic strip in water color entitled "The Baptism of Two Brothers." Two boys decide to play truant and steal some apples to throw into a brook. One of them falls into the water, and his brother Fritz has to help him out. Rizal might have drawn this to amuse young Fritz Ullmer.

Also in the collection are some newspapers pages containing articles about Rizal by Pastor Ullmer, and an unpublished poem about our hero, also by the pastor. A stanza from Maria Clara's song, "How sweet to die for one's native land," is quoted after the poem.

All the Rizal relics now in the possession of the Hack family are preserved in the wooden chest where Pastor Ullmer and Friedrich originally kept them. It was most heartening to discover that our national hero is revered by two German boys who were inspired by their grandfather's stories. Hans, the law student, recalls how as a little boy he had wanted to toy around with the Noli in his grandfather's library. Taking the book away from him,the old man said, "This is a precious book. When you are older and know how to take care of it, I will let you have it." The boys realized the full meaning of their grandfather's words when Pastor Weber informed them of our research.

That same evening by candlelight, shielded from the continuous rain by umbrellas, Pastor Weber and my husband directed the mounting of the Rizal plaque on the house, under the window of the room which Rizal most probably occupied. A young friend of the pastor's who lived nearby, did the work and stoutly refused to be paid. He had been told by Pastor Weber who Rizal was, and how the young Filipino had come to live in that house 74 years ago; how his two visitors (meaning us) had come all the way from Paris to place in the name of their government and what a distinction it all was for their Wilhelmsfeld! Later that evening Mr. Weber sent his wife some flour and a bottle of wine.

Next day was Sunday, and where was Mass to be heard? Pastor Weber picked up the telephone, and in a minute the Catholic priest at Altenbach, five kilometers away, was on the line. The pastor himself had to hold services at a Protestant church in the neighborhood, and so we were soon on our way. Both services were scheduled for 8:30. The pastor dropped us at the church steps where the parish priest was waiting. We were led to a place past the Altar railing to the seats of honor at the left side. We didn't understand the German sermon, but we heard "Philippine" and our names mentioned. Two giant lighted Christmas trees stood on both sides of the altar. It was beautiful when all sang "Silent night," in German, we in English. I have never heard Silent Night sung more beautifully. After the mass, Pastor Weber came to pick us up, and he and the priest greeted each other cordially in the rain. How like Pastor Ullmer and Father Bardorf, we thought.

At 10 o'clock we were back in Wilhelmsfeld, where Pastor Weber asked us to the service in his own church, this time as his honored guests. We watched him deliver his sermon, and his facial expressions, gesticulations, and tone of voice showed he was a fine orator who would make an excellent politician. A large part of the sermon was devoted to Rizal. He explained to us afterwards how he had pointed out two strangers from a faraway land who had not forgotten to hear mass that dark and rainy Sunday.

In the afternoon Pastor Weber drove us again to the home of the Hacks for tea. It was the occasion then to talk about acquiring the Ullmer collection. Our experience in such matters being zero, we did diplomatically. He could understand, he said, the great sentimental value of the collection to the Hacks, and we hoped they appreciated its equally great value to the Philippines. Those relics were part and parcel of our nation. The Hack family would see our legitimate interest in acquiring them, which was to perpetuate the memory of our hero. It was a happy circumstance that the Ullmer name went inextricably with that memory, and should the collection find its fitting place - as we hoped it would - in the José Rizal Memorial Museum, the Ullmer stamp would be there indelibly. Nothing really would be lost to the Hacks, for photostatic copies could be made available. Would they perhaps take a price?

The answer was gentle: they would not. They would rather present the collection to the Filipino people in person, as a gift of the family. And they recalled how in one of his letters, Rizal had asked Pastor Ullmer to the Philippines as his guest. We said we thoroughly approved of the idea and in fact had it in mind. We would certainly recommend it to the Commission in Manila. What a relief it was not to have to bargain!

Hans and Fritz Hack upon their arrival in Manila in March 1960. Dr. Leoncio Lopez - Rizal is between the Hacks.

So sometime this March the two great grandsons of Pastor Ullmer, Hans and Fritz, will make a trip to Manila to present the Ullmer Rizaliana to the José Rizal National Centennial Commission in person. During their stay in our city they will be the house guests of Dr. Leoncio Lopez - Rizal in return for his uncle's stay in the house of the Hack's grandfather in Wilhelmsfeld 74 years ago. From where they are today, Rizal and Pastor Ullmer must have been overjoyed at the prospect of such a rendezvous.

We finished our transaction, if one may call it that, on the third day of January. It was raining hard as usual, and if the weather had not changed, we might have had to postpone the unveiling of the plaque. But early in the morning of January 4, the sun was peeping through the hills. Pastor Weber was elated, and we both thought Rizal had interceded for us in heaven. Mrs. Weber proceeded to arrange the garland over the marker and placed pine leaves on the  wet ground below. With some difficulty, she and I were able to nail a vase on the wall under the plaque for the floral offering.


                                               Dr. Paz P. Mendez delivering a speech after unveiling the Rizal 

                                    plaque at the vicarage in Wilhelmsfeld on January 4, 1960

As the sun rose, it became like a beautiful spring day. Mrs. Etta Ullmer Hack and her two sons arrived from Heidelberg; the Landrat Mr. Steinbrenner, and his wife, came in their Mercedes. Throngs of people came from all over the village. Then as the crowd looked on, I pulled the cord of the veil and the Rizal plaque appeared resplendent in full view. Pastor Weber delivered an encomium on the great Filipino, followed by Landrat Steinbrenner, who lauded Rizal and the country that had made it possible for Wilhelmsfeld to be so honored. A few words of thanks from my husband to all present, and the Wilhelmsfeld story of José Rizal was complete.



But this was only as far as my research was concerned. In March 1960, Fritz and Hans came to Manila through our efforts. They brought flowers from Heidelberg which they laid at the Rizal monument. They presented the Rizal relics in person to then President Carlos P. Garcia. They had a fabulous time with their hosts, Dr. Leoncio Lopez - Rizal and his children.

At our suggestion, too, Pastor Weber was invited to attend the centenary celebration of Dr. Rizal in 1960. He enjoyed his stay in Manila very much and has become an ardent Rizalist to the extent not only of receiving Filipino tourists to Wilhelmsfeld and celebrating every June 19 and December 30, but he has given the name Noli Village to that section of the town where the parsonage is. He was instrumental in naming a street Rizal Strasse.

On his second trip to the Philippines in 1973, he brought Mrs. Weber with him. They had a delightful time.

Fritz and Hans are now both married: Dr. Fritz Hack is a heart specialist in Heidelberg; Attorney Hans Hack works in Coblenz (= now living in Cologne, the Webm.).




                                                                      Message from Minister and Mrs. Mauro Mendez

                                                                         to the People of Wilhelmsfeld      

As you observe today the 100th birthday anniversary of the Filipino national hero, Dr. José Rizal, nothing is more fitting for us than to recall how much he liked your country and admired your people.

Dr. Rizal not only loved the beautiful natural scenery of Germany - your trees and forests, your Loreleis and Odenwald and the Rhine and Neckar rivers - he also had a great admiration for your institutions of learning and culture. His high opinion of the University of Heidelberg is well known, especially of its eye clinic where he worked under the famous Dr. Otto Becker.

As to your political system, it would suffice for me to recall that at one time, when he felt that the supremacy of Spain as a world power was rapidly declining, Rizal expressed the opinion that the Spanish government should form an alliance with Germany, then a young, rich and strong country rapidly gaining in prestige under the leadership of Bismarck.

Over and above all this, Dr. Rizal had a special affection for the Ullmers - that is, Pastor Ullmer himself, his wife and their two children, Fritz and Etta. That affection has been renewed between Pastor Ullmer's great grand - children, Fritz and Hans, and Dr. Rizal's relatives in the Philippines.

It has also been broadened to include Pfarrer Gottlob Weber, who has been so untiringly helpful in our research, and the kind people of Wilhelmsfeld and Heidelberg, who are now celebrating the José Rizal Centennial with the whole Filipino nation.

I wish to say in closing that this observance which you are now staging is not only a wonderful tribute to the memory of our Patriot, who spent some of his happiest and most fruitful days in Wilhelmsfeld and Heidelberg, but also serves to enhance the cordial and friendly relations existing between Germany and the Philippines. May these relations increase more and more every day!             



                                                       Ullmer Collection of Rizaliana

1.    A copy of the original edition of the Noli with the following dedication in German: to    the Rev. Father Ullmer from his friend and guest Jose Rizal.  Rizal's calling card id also included.

2.     Letters and postcards - (The translations were dictated to me by Fritz and Hans.)

        a.    April 24, 1886 from Heidelberg: Excerpts:  I want to live in the country, I am told that the inhabitants of Wilhelmsfeld speak a low German dialect. Perhaps it is possible that I could stay in your home, not with strange people. Your friendship is very precious to me and in this way I would learn good German, but if it is too inconvenient, I would also stay with another family.

        b.    Envelope addressed to Rizal at Ludwigs Platz and forwarded to Wilhelmsfeld. Postmarked Paris May 19, 1886. On the back is a pencil sketch of Ephigeña from Greek mythology.

        c.    June 26, 1886 from Heidelberg - complains of difficulty in changing money which had to be sent to Frankfurt, writes of dog which followed him. He gave the dog a good lunch of milk and bread. "I thank you for the friendship in your home. In my motherland you will always find a good friend, if I don't die early."

        d.    Berlin - Central Hotel November 2, 1886 says he will stay for several months in Berlin. Was in Leipzig.

        e.    To Friedrich (Pastor Ullmer's son) May 29, 1887, Munich - Apologizes for not answering Friedrich's letter. "Tell your good mother that I will write her from home. I will never forget that she and your father were very kind to me when I was completely unknown and without friends in Baden. In Prussia and Austria, my life improved a little as I had many friends, who were very good towards the foreigner. I will never forget Wilhelmsfeld with the hospitable vicarage - 

            " I will travel home; perhaps I will never return.

            " I travel through Switzerland; Italy and so on. If you want something, please write to me, I will try to procure what you wish as far as I am able. My address - Señor Don José Rizal, Calamba, Laguna de Bay, Philippines."

      f.     Berlin, May, 1887 - Hope you have received my book I sent you a month ago - I am sending you my picture. Please send me yours too as I am going home. Tomorrow I start on my journey homewards.

      g.     Postcard from Malakka - July 26, 1887.

      h.    Card from Hongkong Feb. 9, 1888.

      i.     London June 8, 1888 - some one quoted by Laubach.

      j.    Another letter telling about his travels - was informed of it after I had examined the letters hence this incomplete information.    

P.S. The Noli is bound in blue cloth and has the Fritz Ullmer ex-libris.




"The Wilhelmsfeld Story of José Rizal", "Message from Minister and Mrs. Mauro Mendez to the People of Wilhelmsfeld" and "Ullmer Collection of Rizaliana" - text and old photos from the book: Adventures in Rizaliana, by Dr. Paz Policarpio Mendez, National Historical Institute, Manila 1978. 


 || Index || Die Familie|| Kreuzwertheim/Wertheim|||| NABU Wertheim| |Links |


               Dr. José Rizal in Heidelberg und in Wilhelmsfeld (1886)

      und Nachruf (Obituary) für Dr. José Rizal von Prof. Virchow (1897):


| José Rizal in Heidelberg & Wilhelmsfeld & Knights of Rizal, Wilh.-Heid. Chapter     (Versammlungen/Meetings in Wilhelmsfeld) I

| Rizal in Heidelberg and in Wilhelmsfeld (part II) |

| Rizal's letters from Heidelberg I | Rizal's letters from Heidelberg II

| Flores de Heidelberg (Engl.-Deutsch) - Gedicht von J.Rizal

| Rizal's letters to Pastor Ullmer, Wilhelmsfeld, 1886-88|

| Prof. Virchow: Obituary for Dr. José Rizal (1897)

| Prof. Virchow: Nachruf für Dr. José Rizal (1897)|


     Knights of Rizal - Wilhelmsfeld-Heidelberg Chapter und

             der Rizal-Park in Wilhelmsfeld (Odenwald):


| Wilhelmsfeld - Heidelberg - Chapter 2010 - 2012 (Vorstand)|

| Meetings/Treffen der Knights of Rizal des Wilhelmsfeld-Heidelberg Chapters|

| Supreme Commander in Wilhelmsfeld 2001|

| Rizalfeier zum 141.Geburtstag/Wilhelmsfeld 2002|

| 25 Jahre Rizal-Park, Wilhelmsfeld, 1978-2003

| Rizals 146. Birthday - 10 Years Wilhelmsfeld-Heidelberg Chapter (June 17,2007)|

| 50 Jahre Beziehungen Philippinen - Wilhelmsfeld: Die Wilhelmsfeld Story|

|Correspondence Dr.Paz Mendez concerning Rizal's stay in Wilhelmsfeld (1959)| NEW!!!

| E-Mail |

|The Rizal - Flyer for your information about the Rizal - places in Heidelberg and in Wilhelmsfeld| NEW!! NEU!!

since: April 05, 2010


last update: Oct. 20,'10