"In Rizal we are not only losing a loyal friend of Germany, and of German scholarship, but also the one man with sufficient knowledge and resolution to open a way for modern thought to that far-off island world." Prof. Rudolf Virchow (1821-1902) in his obituary address for Dr. José Rizal at the Annual General Meeting of the Berlin Society for Anthropology, Ethnology and Prehistory in 1897.

José Rizal in Heidelberg and in Wilhelmsfeld:

2nd part

Dr. José Rizal (1861-1896), martyr and national hero of the Philippines, doctor and gifted poet, spent an important period of his life in and around Heidelberg.

Having come from Paris on February 3, 1886 he completed his ophtalmological studies at the University Eye Clinic Heidelberg, Bergheimer Str. 20 (photos), under the renowned Professor Becker. At that time the physicist Prof. Helmholtz had invented the ophtalmoscope and the basic research done here attracted young doctors from all over the world. This enabled Rizal later to cure his mother's eye disease.


(Old)University Eye Clinic in Heidelberg, Bergheimer Str. 20 with a plaque in memory of Rizals  time at the Eye clinic:"Dr. José Rizal,1861-1896, national hero of the Philippines: Here, in Bergheimer Str. 20, Rizal practised ophthalmology from February to August 1886 under Professor Dr. Otto Becker, Director of the University Eye-Clinic. Embassy of the Philippines, June 19,1960"                                                                                                                   

 From different Rizal letters (his first one from Heidelberg is dated February 9, 1886) telling about his studies, the student life and (his first) winter impressions in Heidelberg:

"I spend half of the day in the study of German and the other half, of the disease of the eye. Twice a week, I go to the bierbrauerie, or beerhall, to speak German with my student friends. ......Three times I have gone to see their duels at Hirschgasse and I have witnessed from 20 or 25 of them; each time 7, 8, or 9 fight and several times the duels were bloody. One that I saw received as many as six wounds during the duel; sometimes they are not wounded. They fight only among themselves, corporation against corporation, many times without any motive, for those who choose the adversaries are the sponsors; it is just to test bravery, according to them. They are five students corps here and they are Vandalia, Guestfalia, Saxoborussia, Rhenania and Swabia and their respective caps are red, green, white, blue, and yellow. Don't think that I belong to any of these corporations; I would need to stay at least one year, for they require six months trial. The Swabians are my friends. .....When they fight, they have all the parts of the body covered except the face and the eyes are protected with googles of steel mesh so that the head and cheeks are the most exposed. They use a very sharp saber with which they fight by raising the arm over the head. The German student has fine presence, tall, and is very robust. On the night of my arrival, wishing to obtain information about the good professor of ophthalmology, I inquired about the beerhall where students foregather, and I was directed to the Gulden Bierbrauerie. There in fact I found some eight or nine, with yellow caps, of the corporation Schwaben (Swabia). I introduced myself and in semi-German I asked them. Instantly they stirred, asked one another and gave me all the necessary information. They invited me to sit with them and drink beer. Because of my lack of practice in speaking German and not being accustomed to hear it, conversation was difficult; and because they hardly spoke French, we resorted to Latin and we used this language part of the evening until one who knew French came. The majority of those who were there, eight or ten, had the left cheek full of large scars - there was one who had more than 15 and the one who spoke French with me had, besides eight or ten large scars, his head bandaged, for just a few days ago, he lost a portion of his scalp. .... The German student is kind, courteous, modest and is not boastful. When he greets, he lifts up his (leather) cap entirely, throwing it forward. That night they didn't let me pay at all for my beer for being a stranger and recently arrived, but next time I shall have to pay in accordance with the custom of each one paying for his own. When they drink, they have the custom of toasting the health of every one saying, "Prosit!" or "Prost!" and holding forth the glass toward the person to whose health they are drinking. They invited me to join their society, but upon knowing that I couldn't remain among them for a long time, they said it was useless, for it would be of no benefit to me. At least six month were necessary for probation and another six month to be admitted into it. These young men take singular pleasure in making themselves look ugly, for there are among them some who really possess masculine beauty on one hand and on the other patched up skin. There was one who had already fought 54 times. Not all students are members of these corporations. ..."

"...It has been very cold here and everywhere I see only ice forming capricious figures, stalactites, of cristals, rocks, on which the rays of the sun play, producing most beautiful colors. ... There's so much snowfall that it is necessary to keep the fire (in my boarding room) burning continuously lest one freeze. ..." 

He lived in various accommodations in Heidelberg, first in Karlstr. 16, then in Grabengasse 12, former "Ludwigsplatz 12" (photos). 



Grabengasse 12 in front of the "Old University" of Heidelberg: "In this building, former Ludwigsplatz 12, Rizal lived from February 18 to June 1886. His poem "A las Flores de Heidelberg" was written here on April 22, 1886. Embassy of the Philippines, June 19,1960" (text on the plaque)

 From Rizals letters:

"Now I'm living in a boarding house. The cost is not as cheap as I expected, for room, food, service and light cost me something like 28 pesos a month. Undoubtedly it is  very much cheaper than in Paris, but it is not as I supposed, so that the money that I thought would last until the end of April will only suffice until the beginning of this month. .. My neighbor is a young Englishman who came to study German and when we couldn't understand each other we speak English. At mealtime German is spoken. Little by little I'm getting to understand it. As I intend to change house to see if I can find a cheaper one, it would be desirable that you address me thus 'Germany Herr Joseph Rizal, General Delivery, Heidelberg'..." 

"..Tomorrow I am going to change my residence and move to No.12 Ludwigsplatz, near the University. The room alone with service, light, and heating costs me eight pesos a month or 32 marks, each mark is worth 2 reales fuertes. If we were in the midst of winter, it would cost me more for I would have to spend for the heating. I shall eat at the restaurant during the day and at night take supper in my room in German style, that is, a cup of tea, bread, and butter. I believe that in this way I can live on 25 pesos a month with board and lodging until the end of April when I expect to receive my monthly allowance."                                                                              

Here in Heidelberg he met classical education, scientific progress and the growing national selfconfidence of Germany at the end of the 19th century, and he saw and admired the beauty of Heidelberg and its countryside. This inspired him on April 22,1886 to write his famous poem "A las flores de Heidelberg" (To the flowers of Heidelberg), which shows that although he appreciated the beauty of Heidelberg, his thoughts and his heart remained on the Philippines:

"Go to my country, exotic flow'rs sown by the traveler on his path, and 'neath her cerulean skies, that keep my loves in their bow'rs, tell them about the faith for his native land, the pilgrim sighs! ..."

"Reist in die Heimat, fremde Blumen, die ihr des Wandrers Weg gesäumt, reist dorthin, wo er seine Lieben beschützt vom blauen Himmel weiß. Erzählt vom Pilger in der Ferne, der sich nach seiner heimatlichen Erde sehnt..." (übertragen von Elke und Fritz Hack Ullmer)

On the Philosophers' Way, from where he had the famous romantic view over Heidelberg, the Neckar River, and the Castle, he met Pastor Karl Ullmer, the Protestant pastor in the neighbouring village of Wilhelmsfeld in the Odenwald Hills. Pastor Ullmer invited José Rizal to stay in Wilhelmsfeld with his family for three months, and Rizal accepted willingly (his letter to Pastor Ullmer from April 24, 1886), because this gave him greater opportunity to speak German, offered him a quiet and simple countryside alternative to the busy student life in Heidelberg, and gave him the chance of experiencing European family life.

This following letter from April 24, 1886 of José Rizal to Pastor Ullmer was written in the original in German:

Dr. José Rizal                                              Heidelberg, April 24, 1886

Your Reverence Pfarrer Ullmer in  Wilhelmsfeld

Reverend Sir,

I have promised to write to you in case I should decide to spend a few weeks in the countryside. You have been so kind to offer your help finding me bed and board. If weather conditions permit I will be in Wilhelmsfeld on Sunday evening.                                                                                                                

I have been told the people of  Wilhelmsfeld do not speak a correct German, rather a dialect. Although being afraid to misuse your kindness please allow me to stay in your house if possible rather than being with other families.                                                                                                               

Your friendship is very precious to me and this would implay that I live with a charming family and practise German on a high standard which I consider to be a main point. In case this should prove to be impossible or inconvenient I can take any room you choose and know it will be good for me.                                                                                                                            

I send my regards to your young lovable family. Allow me to thank you in advance and be assured of my deepest respect.

J. Rizal

Dr. José Rizal                                               Heidelberg, 24.04.1886

Ehrwürdigen Herrn Pfarrer Ullmer in Wilhelmsfeld

Ehrwürdiger Herr Pfarrer:

                 Ich habe versprochen, Ihnen zu schreiben, im Fall, dass ich mich entschließe, während einiger Wochen auf dem Land zu wohnen, da Sie die Freundlichkeit gehabt haben, mir eine Pension verschaffen zu wollen. Sonntag Abend, wenn gutes Wetter ist, werde ich in Wilhelmsfeld sein. Man hat mir gesagt, dass die Einwohner in Wilhelmsfeld nicht richtiges Deutsch sprechen, sondern eine Mundart.

Wenn ich nicht fürchtete, Ihre Liebenswürdigkeit zu missbrauchen, würde ich Ihnen bitten, wenn es nur möglich ist, bei Ihnen anstatt bei immer anderen mich wohnen zu lassen; denn ich würde nicht nur mit einer liebenswürdigen Familie leben, da Ihre Freundschaft mir sehr lieb ist, sondern möglichst gutes Deutsch sprechen, was ich für Hauptsache halte.

Aber, wenn dies Ihnen unmöglich oder unbequem ist, nehme ich das Zimmer, das Sie für gut halten, wird es auch für mich sein.

Ich grüße Ihre junge liebenswürdige Familie.                                       

Genehmigen Sie im voraus meinen Dank und die Versicherung meiner tiefen Hochachtung.

J. Rizal

This letter is part of the "Ullmer Rizaliana collection album", a donation of the Hack-Ullmer family to the Filipinos in 1960, now kept in the National Library in Manila.

Rizal started learning German in January 1886. His active knowledge of the language - both spoken and written - is amazing. In Wilhelmsfeld he wrote the last chapters of "Noli Me Tangere", the book of the Philippine Revolution. (The novel exposes the maladministration of the Spanish rules and the monastic orders in the Philippines.) In addition he translated Schillers "Wilhelm Tell" into Tagalog.                                                      


In Wilhelmsfeld,José-Rizal-Street 7, "José Rizal, 1861-1896, National hero of the Philippines, wrote the last part of his novel "Noli Me Tangere" in this house, while being guest of Pastor Ullmer. 1886"


So Rizal left Heidelberg in April 1886 and moved to Wilhelmsfeld, although this meant a long walk (12 km) through the forests and hills to attend his studies at the university. In Wilhelmsfeld Rizal met the warm and friendly hospitality of Pastor Ullmer's family, made incredible progress in speaking and writing German, talked to Protestant and Catholic priests, met religious tolerance and saw the simple country people. Besides his studies he found the time to complete and modify his famous, strongly autobiographical novel "Noli Me Tangere", and celebrated his 25th birthday anniversary.

One passage in Chapter VII of "Noli Me Tangere" clearly describes Wilhelmsfeld, when his protagonist Ibarra is talking of his time in Europe:

"...Could I forget you? Many times I thought I was listening to the sounds of your piano and the accents of your voice, and in Germany, at sunset, whenever I wandered in the woods peopled by the fantastic creations of its poets and the mysterious legends of its past generations, I always called on your name, I thought I could see you in the mist that rose from the depths  of the valley, I thought I could hear your voice in the rustling of the leaves, and, when the peasants returning from their work were heard from afar singing their popular songs, I imagined the melodies harmonizing with my inner voices, that they were singing for you, giving reality to my illusions and dreams. Sometimes I would get lost in the mountain trails and the night which slowly descended would find me still roaming, seeking my way among the pines, beeches and oaks, and then, when some moonbeams slipped down through the clearings among the thick foliage, I seemed to see you in the heart of the forest as a faint, lovely image swaying about amidst the light and shadows of the dense thicket; and if by chance the nightingale poured forth his varied trills, I thought it was because he could see you, and you were inspiring him....." 



  In this house of Pastor Ullmer in Wilhelmsfeld, José-Rizal-Street 7, José Rizal wrote the last part of his famous novel "Noli Me Tangere" in 1886. (at the right: the original cover of the novel published in Berlin in 1887)


He left Wilhelmsfeld and Heidelberg in the late summer of 1886, went to Leipzig and Berlin, where "Noli Me Tangere" was published, and eventually returned to the Philippines, where he tried to convey to his people some of the ideas and influences he had found in Germany.

His experiences in Germany caused him to put so much emphasis on education, diligence, democratic and civil rights, through which he wanted to achieve freedom for his country and its people.

In 1960, shortly before the centennial of Rizal's birth, Mrs. P.P.Mendez, wife of the Philippine Ambassador to Paris and later Foreign Secretary, assisted by Pastor Gottlob Weber, then Protestant pastor in Wilhelmsfeld, retraced Rizal's footsteps in Germany, and unveiled memorial plaques at the places where Rizal had stayed in Heidelberg and Wilhelmsfeld.

Pastor Weber traced the descendants of Pastor Ullmer, and in 1960 the Ullmer-Hack family donated their extensive and priceless collection of original Rizal memorabilia (letters, sketches, a first edition of "Noli Me Tangere", etc.). Some of these items can be seen at the Rizal-Shrine in Fort Santiago.

The road outside the pastor's house in Wilhelmsfeld was later named "José-Rizal-Street", the fountain in the Pastor's garden, from which Rizal drank, was later taken to the Rizal-Park ('Luneta') in Manila (photo).


As a symbol of the German-Philippine friendship and as a remembrance to Dr.José Rizal and his merits for freedom, human dignity, justice and democracy the Rizal-Fountain was brought in 1964 from the Protestant Pastor's garden to the Rizal-Park in Manila by Pastor Gottlob Weber.

Heidelberg also has a "Rizal-Ufer" (Rizal-Embankment) along the Neckar-River, and in 1978 the "Rizal-Park" in Wilhelmsfeld with a bronze statue of José Rizal by Prof. Anastacio Caedo was opened (photos). Since 1998 the way near the Catholic Church in Wilhelmsfeld is called "Karl-Ullmer-Weg" in remembrance of Rizal's host.   



The bronze statue of Dr.José Rizal (here shown at different seasons of the year, in summer and  covered by snow in winter time), was made by Philippine sculptor Anastacio Caedo, thanks to the president of the German-Philippine Society, Franz-Josef Weyand, who organized a big successful action of contributions in 1975. The statue was erected in the Rizal-Park in Wilhelmsfeld and unveiled by the Embassador of the Philippines, Excellence Gregorio Abad, in 1978.

Close and friendly ties between Filipinos and Germans have developed over the last 40 years, and in 1997, the Wilhelmsfeld-Heidelberg Chapter was established in Wilhelmsfeld by the members of the order of the Knights of Rizal, which keeps the memory and the ideas of José Rizal alive.

In 1995, the 6th International Assembly of the Knights of Rizal, and in 1998, the 10th Kalayaan of the Philippines were celebrated in Heidelberg and Wilhelmsfeld.  



                                                      The Rizal-Park with the statue of Dr.José Rizal in winter time

There is also a collection of Philippine books and utensils at the "Voelkerkundemuseum" in Heidelberg, Hauptstr. 235, and of Rizal memorabilia and Filipiniana from the collection of the Weber family at the "Rathaus" (Town Hall) in Wilhelmsfeld, where a "Rizal-Shrine" will be established in the next months.

  | Uli's Nest | Familie| Hometown| NABU-Wertheim

  |Rizal in Heidelberg and Wilhelmsfeld (p.I)|

  | A las Flores de Heidelberg |

  |The Supreme Commander in Wilhelmsfeld '01|

  |Wilhelmsfeld-Heidelberg Chapter02/03|

  |Rizals 141.Geburtstag Wilhelmsfeld|

  | Virchow: Obituary for Dr. José Rizal

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

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

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

 | Rizals 146. Birthday - 10th Foundation Anniversary of the Wilh.-Heid.Chapter|

 | Prof. Virchows Nachruf für José Rizal 1897|  

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

| 50 Years Philippines - Wilhelmsfeld: "The Wilhelmsfeld Story", by Dr.P.Mendez|

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

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last update April 06,'10

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