José Rizal (1861-1896) as a student in Europe

Rizal's letters from Heidelberg (II)

addressed to his family in Calamba, Philippines (1886)


Rizal's third letter from Heidelberg:

Germany, Thursday, 11 March 1886




    Since I left our country, I have received only four or five lines written by your hand, one or two insignificant news about you and nothing more. I don't know how you are and I cannot imagine your person. When I left you, you were very small. Now within two months you are going to be 18 years and in four years I suppose that you have grown up and you are becoming a young lady.  At your age, German women seem to be 20 or 24 years, as much for their faces as for their ways.The German woman is serious, studious, and diligent, and as their clothes do not have plenty of color, and generally they have only three or four, they do not pay much attention to their clothes nor to jewels. They dress their hair simply, which is thin, but beautiful in their childhood. They go everywhere walking so nimbly or faster than men, carrying their books, their baskets, without minding anyone and only their own business. As I said to Pangoy, they are home-loving and they study cooking with as much diligence as they do music and drawing.

   If our sister María had been educated in Germany, she would have been notable, because German women are active and somewhat masculine. They are not afraid of men. They are more concerned with the substance than with appearances. Until now I have not heard women quarreling, which in Madrid is the daily bread.

   It is a pity that there in our country the principal adornment of all women almost always consists of clothes and finery rather than of knowledge. In our provinces, women still preserve a virtue that compensates for their little instruction - the virtue of industry and tenderness. In no woman in Europe have I found the latter virtue in such a high degree as among the women there. If these qualities that nature gives to the women there were exalted by intellectual qualities, as it happens in Europe, the Filipino family has nothing to envy the European. For this reason, now that you are still young and you have time to learn, it is necessary that you study by reading and reading attentively. It is a pity that you allow yourself to be dominated by laziness when it takes so little effort to shake it off. It is enough to form only the habit of study and later everything goes by itself.

    I hope to receive a letter from you to see whether you are progressing or not; if you can, write me in Spanish.

                                          Your brother



Rizal's fourth letter from Heidelberg:             


 12 Ludwigsplatz, Heidelberg                  11 March 1886



     As I announced to you in my previous letter, I'm now in this new house, in front of the University itself, and in which I intend to remain all the time I have to be in this city, until I can go to Berlin, which will be within a few months.

     During last week and half of this it had been very cold and snow fell during that time in the mountain as well as in the city. The wind blows with great force, beats the tree branches, and makes the snow whirl, lashing and reddening the face. Despite the fact that I'm not sanguine, my cheeks are red and at that I'm not very stout. Despite the cold, the wind,and the snow, I continue going to the hospital and studying ophthalmology and German every day. I'm progressing fairly in German, for now I can make myself understood by every one, only that I don't understand everybody, for many here speak very fast or speak a patois or dialect which is not the classic German, or high German that I study.

     Although snow makes many suffer on account of the cold it causes, on the other hand it entertains children and the youth. The children make snowballs with which they attack one another. The young people ride in sledges or they slide from a height on a mountain path down to the valley below.

     It is worth describing to you the Fackelzug or the torch festival which I mentioned to you in my previous letter. On the occasion of the election of the Rector, the students, numbering from 650 to 700, hold this celebration. All are dressed in the uniform of their corporations, usually preceded by two bearing duel swords. Each corporation selects its finest young men and these lead the march. Ahead go the Rector and the highest official in a carriage and behind them march the students with bands of music. All carry lighted torches and walk at a light gait. The effect is beautiful and wonderful. After going through the streets of Heidelberg, they all gather at this square and form a square leaving a big space in the middle. At a given signal all throw their torches up in the air - seven hundred torches fluttering in space. Those that fall are picked up and thrown up again, while all sing in chorus Gaudeamus igitur to the beat of the music and the clashing of the swords. Here it is the student who prevails; without students Heidelberg is a dead city. On Saturday there will be another Fackelzug as a farewell, for March and April are vacation months.

   Carnival passed away with more gaiety, though with very much less pomp and animation than in Madrid. Vera few masks, 20 or 30 floats only, but as the German is serious during the whole year, on Shrove Tuesday he makes up and enjoys himself. The street where they stroll is moreover narrow, so that all the merry-making is concentrated and the people enliven with their presence what luxury and movement do in other places. In spite of the cold and the wind that makes the ears crack, there were some little jokes, throwing of peas from carriage to carriage, and ...

   The German language is becoming clearer to me. It no longer seems to me so obscure and difficult as at the beginning. I hope that within five months I'll speak it like Spanish. I'm afraid that I may forget the latter language, for until the present, since I arrived in Germany, I haven't found anyone who knows Spanish. On the other hand, I spoke Tagalog once with a German who stayed a long time at Singapore and who spoke Malay. Although we couldn't understand each other very well, nevertheless I encountered many words similar to Tagalog.

   Now I lead an entirely different life from what I had lately. I eat outside. The house with service costs me 28 marks - this is 7 pesos, each mark being worth 2 reales fuertes. Breakfast served at the house costs me 40 pfennigs; I lunch at the restaurant; for 2 reales 18 cuartos they give me soup, three dishes, dessert, and wine, besides potatoes, salad, cabbage and other vegetables, for it must be noted that German cooking is all full of vegetables and many things mixed together. At night I buy two small rolls which cost three cuartos, cheese, fruits, and a piece of sausage or butter. All in all, the heating, light, laundry, room, and food cost me some 30 pesos a month or a little less. Add to these expenses the cleaning ... etc. so that for 40 pesos one can live well in Germany, if one doesn't have to buy clothes and to travel from time to time.

    At the hospital I practice and examine patients who come every day. The professor corrects our mistakes in diagnosis; I help in the treatment and although I don't see so many operations as I did at Paris, here I study more the practical side. If I receive sufficient money in April or May, I intend to enroll in a regular course in ophthalmology either in Leipzig, Halle, or Berlin. God willing, I don't intend to remain in Germany longer than until November at most in order to go afterward to England in December and remain there during the spring of 1887 and go again to Paris to observe the operations of Dr. de Wecker who, as a surgeon, it seems to me, is very superior to anyone I have been until the present. From there I can return to the Philippines and manage very suitably a clinic for eye diseases.

    Until now I haven't received a letter from you since the last that I received from my brother at the beginning of January. You may continue sending me your letters to Paris and send them through the French mail boat which departs from there every fortnight.

    A German promised me one of these days ...


Rizal's fifth letter from Heidelberg to his family in Calamba/Philippines


12 Ludwigsplatz, Heidelberg                  20 March 1886



     Winter is over and this is now spring. Here the changes of the season are greatly appreciated for a great contrast is noted in the change. After the cold of a severe winter, after so much ice and so much snow and so much fog, in two or three days, the sky turns blue, the air becomes moderately warm, snow and ice melt. Men lay aside their wraps and overcoats and the women put on lighter dresses of various colors. The change of seasons is more notable in Germany than in Madrid. Now my windows are open; I hear and see the children playing noisily in the square whose trees are beginning to sprout again. This is so beautiful that one feels like singing.

    Everybody tells me that I have made very rapid and surprising progress in the German language. Now I already speak it and the Germans understand me; that is, high German or hochdeutsch, for I don't speak or study the dialect spoken in this city or the Heidelberger Deutsch, being a dialect and neither a scientific nor literary language. I hope that before the end of the eight months I have fixed, I shall be able to leave Germany and go to England, or whatever you think convenient.

   I still have money to live on for 27 days and to pay the house rent. If by chance I don't receive money until May, Luna has spontaneously offered to send me money any time I may need it as he has some, for being a good painter, half the year he is poor and the other half he seems like a millionaire. ...


Rizal's letter from Wilhelmsfeld/near Heidelberg (living in the house of Pastor Ullmer) to his family in Calamba/Philippines


                                 Wilhelmsfeld, 9 June 1886



   Since the beginning of January until now, I haven't received either a letter or draft, though according to my calculation I ought to receive money a month ago, for what I have would barely last until the beginning of May. The next mail doesn't arrive until after two weeks, and as I haven't received your advice to give up, I continue hoping ... In Germany I have neither a countryman nor a true friend to turn to, Luna has been lending me the whole past month, but my friend is poor and besides has his brother at Paris and has to support two. I expected to receive through the latter, who arrived two weeks ago, the watch my brother promised me, but undoubtedly you didn't know he was leaving.

   I repeat once more, lest you may have forgotten it, the convenience and necessity of writing me in advance when you cannot send me the promised amount. Thus I shall be at ease knowing by what to abide and I don't contract obligations which later will cause me displeasures that are not easy to imagine.

   If you don't have much to tell me, a postal card with four or five words would suffice, which is very convenient and costs one half. With an expenditure of four cuartos, you save me many displeasures. This is always easy to do.

   It is my serious and ardent desire to go home, for it seems to me that I cause too much expense and I wish to help the family in whatever way I can. I'm tired of Europe and I'm afraid to ruin the family, for they say that business is very bad. I wish to go home as soon as possible in order to be with you.

   When you send me a draft, send me through the following mail the 2nd copy, and the 3rd copy through the one after that, in order that in case it is lost, the amount can be collected. I fear that that is what might have happened this time, for I can't explain the delay and lack of letters. In Europe postal employees are very honest and diligent, at least in France, Germany, and England. It is seldom that a letter gets lost.



Please answer this letter.




Members of the Knights of Rizal of the Wilhelmsfeld-Heidelberg Chapter at the wreath laying - ceremony on Rizal's 141.Birthday at the Rizal statue in the Rizal-Park in Wilhelmsfeld (June 22, 2002)


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Rizal in Heidelberg & Wilhelmsfeld I| Rizal in Heidelberg & Wilhelmsfeld II|

Rizal's letters from Heidelberg I| Rizal's letters to Pastor Ullmer, 1886-88|

Flores de Heidelberg (engl-deutsch)

|Prof.Virchows Nachruf für José Rizal| Prof. Virchow's obituary for Dr.José Rizal|

Wilhelmsfeld-Heidelberg Chapter| Supreme council in Wilhelmsfeld Oct.14,'01|

Rizal's 141. Geburtstag in Wilhelmsfeld 22.06,02|25 Jahre Rizal-Park 2003|

|Rizals 146.Geburtstag + 10 Jahre Wilhelmsfeld-Heidelberg Chapter: 17. Juni 2007|

|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!!!

last update April 06,'10

since Jan. 01,'03