José Rizal 1886 - Berlin

Rizal letters addressed to Pastor Ullmer and his family in Wilhelmsfeld (1886-1888)

During his stay in Heidelberg, in 1886, Dr. José Rizal (1861 - 1896) met on the famous Philosophers' Way (from where he had the romantic view over Heidelberg) 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, because this was less expensive, 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. 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. -         So he left Heidelberg in April 1886 and moved to Wilhelmsfeld, although this meant a long walk (ca. 3 hrs) through the forests and hills to attend his studies at the university.

Rizal's letters addressed to Pastor Ullmer and to his son Friedrich are written in German in the original. Rizal's first two letters to Pastor Karl Ullmer were sent from Heidelberg (first letter in German page 15). The next three letters  were written in Berlin and Munich during Rizal's trip through Germany (when he had left Heidelberg and Wilhelmsfeld), and  the last letter was written during his stay in London in 1888:

Pastor Karl Ullmer - and his family - Wilhelmsfeld 

(drawings by Rizal)

To the Reverend Pastor Ullmer                              Heidelberg, 24 April 1886                          at Wilhelmsfeld


      I promised to write you in case I should decide to remain in the country for a few weeks. Since you have had the kindness to secure a boarding-house for me, on Sunday evening, if the weather is fine, I shall be in Wilhelmsfeld.

I have been told that the inhabitants of Wilhelmsfeld do not speak correct German but a dialect. If I were not afraid of imposing upon your kindness, I would ask you, if possible, to let me live with you instead of with someone else, for I shall not only live with a respectable family, whose friendship I value so highly, but I will also speak good German, which to me is the main thing.

However, if this is impossible or inconvenient for you, I will take the room which you may consider good, whatever it may be.

I am sending my regards to all your lovable family. Accept in advance my thanks and the assurance of my profound esteem.      


                                                        J. RIZAL

(deutscher Text)


To the Reverend Pastor Ullmer (Esquire)                  Heidelberg, 26.June 1886



      This morning I visited all the banks in order to change this note, but I did not find any which honors Spanish notes; they are giving me only two days to send this note to Paris, while they assure me that the notes will be sold. Since I have promised to give you the money this very day, I did not agree with them. Either keep this note (100 pesetas = 100 francs) till I get francs, next week, or, if you are in a hurry, send it back to me tomorrow through Friedrich, in order that I may have it changed on Tuesday or Wednesday.

     Yesterday, after I had gone half of the way, I suddenly saw Barle ("Baerle") running behind me. In spite of the stones which I threw at him and despite all my efforts, I did not succeed in sending him back. For a long while, he followed me at a distance; finally I decided to take him along since Friedrich is going home today. I gave him a nice supper (milk and bread) and the people here were kind to him, the...   Barle however barked and growled much at midnight. At every arriving student, he made such a great noise as if he were very brave and alert.

       From Sanne, I also received in good condition everything that I had left; and therefore I thank you very much once more. May you also receive, when you are abroad, the same treatment and friendship as I have found among you; and if, being a foreigner, I can do nothing for you in a foreign country, I can be of some service to you in my homeland, where you will always find a good friend, if I do not die, of course.  The joy at being understood by other people is so great that one cannot easily forget it. You understood me too, in spite of my brown skin, which to many people is yellow, as if that were puzzling or absurd; fortunately, it is gradually becoming lighter to many: for example, to the landlady in Heilig Steinach (i.e. "Heiligkreuzsteinach" in the Neckar-valley); but, unfortunately, not all people are landladies.

       I greet with all my heart Mrs. Ullmer and Eta and wish you a most happy future.

                                                                                    Your good friend


Central Hotel, Berlin                                     Berlin, 2. November 1886


     Yesterday, Iarrived at this large city where I intend to spend five or six months. My new residence is on Jaegerstrasse No. 71, third floor. I was two months in Leipzig and a few days in Dresden; I also visited Halle.

      At Leipzig, I met Dr. Hans Meyer, the author of the dictionary. He is a very likeable young man. I also exercised much; and although I liked Leipzig very much, I liked Berlin better because of its beauty.

      I have nothing more to tell you except that I am very well.

      Regards to the good Mrs. Ullmer, Eta, and Friedrich.

                                                                                  Yours very truly,


71, Jaegerstrasse, Berlin                                              10. May 1887


      I hope you have already received my book which I sent you a month ago. I take the liberty of sending you now my picture and I beg you to send me yours. I am ready to go home.

      Tomorrow I am leaving to go to Dresden, Leitmeritz, Prague, Vienna, Munich, Nuremberg, Stuttgart, Konstance, Basel until Geneva. If you will send me your picture, please send it to me at Geneva, general delivery. I shall be there perhaps until the 20th of this month.

      I have received Friedrich's nice letter and I give him my best thanks. I shall write him from Vienna and perhaps I will send him something.

     If you will write me later, please address your letter thus:

                     Philippine Islands                                                                                                 

                           Señor Dr. José Rizal

                Calamba (Laguna de Bay)

     Affectionate greetings to the good Frau Pastor, to Eta, who must already be grown up, and to Friedrich.


                                                                    Very faithfully yours,


From Heilbronn my countryman (i.e. "Dr. Maximo Viola") and I will perhaps go to Heidelberg and once more visit you.


Dr. Maximo Viola - Rizal's friend

Rheinischer Hof, Carl Haymann                               Munich, 29. May 1887




    I hope you are not angry with me for having long delayed answering your kind letter. It is because I have nothing to say, that is, nothing important, and so I could not write you a single line. I am on my way home and perhaps I shall never come back here. I am going via Switzerland, Italy, etc.  If you want something, just write me and I will do my best to comply with your wish. My address is:

       Señor Don Jose Rizal

              Calamba (Laguna de Bay)

              (Isles Philippines)

     Tell the good Frau Pastor, your dear Mama, that when I reach home, I shall write her. I shall never forget how good she, as well your Papa, had been to me when I was an unknown stranger, without friends and recommendations, in Baden.  In Prussia and Austria my life became a little better because there I made friends and acquaintances who so kindly accepted me, a stranger.  I shall never forget Wilhelmsfeld with its hospitable parish house.

     I embrace you.

                                                                              Your good friend,



                                                                                                          London, June 8, 1888



      I have received your kind and cherished letter of March 12, which was forwarded to me from the Philippines. I left my country the third of February. I travelled in China, Japan and the United States, and reached here at the end of last month.  Here I shall probably remain a couple of years. I hope we see one another next year. I will go to Belgium in search of a temporary home. After disembarking at Rotterdam, I will go up the Rhine, and come to visit you and your family with whom I have passed such sweet and delightful days.

     I have left my country on account of my book. The Filipino public welcomed Noli Me Tangere very heartily; the edition is entirely exhausted. The Governor General (Terrero) summoned me and asked me for a copy of it. The friars were most excited.  They wanted to persecute me, but they did not know how to get me. The Archbishop threatened to excommunicate me.

     The story of my return (home) would be long to tell and hard to understand for those who do not know life in the Philippines. My family would not allow me to eat in any house, for fear they might poison me. Friends and enemies did me favors; the latter burned my books, the former paid as much as fifty pesos for one copy. The bookstores have made big profit, but I got nothing. The friars urged my exile, but the Governor replied that they would have to bring me before the court, if there was anything illegal that I had done. I left my country in order to give my relatives peace. I am at any rate once more in a free land, breathing the free air of Europe. My fellow countrymen consider me lucky to have escaped from the Philippines. I feel like the diver Schiller described, who said: "I have seen horrible things, monsters which menaced me with their talons; but by the help of God I am again on the surface!"

            Nevertheless I will go back!

                                                                                              JOSE RIZAL


José Rizal 1888 - London


|Uli's Nest | Familie| Hometown| NABU-Wertheim| Links| e-mail|

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

|Flores de Heidelberg engl--deutsch| 141.Geburtstag Rizals in Wilhelmsfeld|

|Rizals letters from Heidelberg I | Rizals letters from Heidelberg & Wilhelmsfeld II|

|Prof. Virchows obituary for Dr. José Rizal| Prof. Virchows Nachruf für José Rizal|

|Knights of Rizal: Wilhelmsfeld-Heidelberg Chapter|25 Jahre Rizal-Park 2003|

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

|50Jahre 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 Febr. 09.'03