German Club


Manila Germans and the German Club

Manila is certainly a city of diversity. Its population is comprised of Filipinos of different ethnic backgrounds, as well as Spanish, Chinese, East Indians, Japanese, Americans, Russians, Germans and many other nationalities. Many of these folks descended from immigrants that arrived many generations ago and now call Manila home.

These diverse ethnic groups brought their customs, foods, sports, and other preferences with them. They tended to gather together as a group, often times forming their own exclusive clubs – it was a comfort, a way of banding together, sharing similarities of culture.

The Germans had their German Club (Deutsche Klub), the Spaniards their Casino Español, the Brits had the Manila Club, there was the Swiss Club as well as the Nippon Club while the Americans had the University Club, Elks Club and the Army and Navy Club.

In the next series of articles, I will be writing about a few of these clubs; some of them are still in existence.


The German Club
History points to the first German immigrants arriving in Manila as Jesuits, invited by the Spanish government to help convert the Filipinos to Catholicism sometime in the middle 1600s. They also brought with them their extensive knowledge of pharmacy and medicine.

Adelbert von Chamisso

Adelbert von Chamisso

Interest in these islands may have started with Aldelbert von Chamisso, a botanist who sailed around the world on a Russian research ship which happened to dock in Manila in 1818, allowing him to venture ashore and explore Manila’s libraries and monasteries. Within a short time, he had amassed a distinguished library of Tagalog works and languages. His library came to the attention of two prominent gentlemen in Philippine history: Professor Ferdinand Blumentritt and his dear friend, Dr. José Rizal.

At about the same time, trade restrictions previously imposed by Spain were lifted and Manila was declared an open port to all nations; an important event in lifting Manila to world trade status.

Although the Spanish and American cultures have had a predominant effect on Filipinos, the German community was quite a substantial influence on Manila’s business community. At the time, Germans were almost exclusively the only pharmacists in the Philippines. The earliest successful German pioneers were the Zobels from Hamburg. Heinrich Zobel arrived in 1825 and started working for a merchant house, Kierulf & Company. Within a few years, Heinrich had ventured into a partnership of his own. In 1832, his father Johannes, mother and younger brother joined him in Manila establishing the drugstore Botica Zobel on No. 13 Calle Real, Intramuros.  It would become the main supplier of pharmaceuticals for the colonial administration and army.  This family of entrepreneurs soon opened a chemical laboratory, started a mining exploration company and got involved in sugar planting and processing.

Botica Sta. Cruz

Botica Sta. Cruz

Zobel’s Botica wasn’t the only German establishment in Manila. Friedrich Steek or Don Frederico, as he was locally known had purchased a previously established Botica located on the Escolta. He recruited his nephew Paul Satorius, and together started a large-scale production and export of ilang-ilang oil, which was in high demand as a base for fine perfumes in Europe.

Reinhold Boie-1886

Reinhold Boie-1886

Reinhold Boie initially worked for Satorius but then struck out on his own, obtaining a permit to open a drug store in Vigan. He is remembered for the very popular Botica Boie, which took his name and was successful through the 1960s.

Between 1850 and 1870, the number of German establishments and residents in Manila grew steadily. Behind the British, the Germans formed the largest non-Spanish foreign group in Manila. In the early 1880s, the Germans together with the Swiss joined together to establish a bowling alley and German Reading Club, bringing much appreciated reading material from home.

Casino Union 1906-209 Gen.Solano

Casino Union 1906-209 Gen.Solano

After two years, this loosely organized club was upgraded and renamed Casino Union, supported by Germany’s Manila consul, Otto Möllendorf. “…the Casino Union primarily has the task to be a social club, offering its members recreation and diversion and does not only accept subjects of the German Empire as members but is open to citizens of all German-speaking nations.”

The well-equipped club was located close to the Imperial German Consulate along the Pasig River at 209 General Solano in the San Miguel district where the wealthier European merchants and government officials resided.

Consul Tannert and his wife in front of the Consulate-1890

Consul Tannert and his wife in front of the Consulate-1890

Karl Tannert, consulate secretary described the club, “…our coach halts in the middle of a beautiful garden in front of a palatial building that our fellow countrymen had furnished in a cozy and most comfortable fashion. There is a dining hall with German, English and Spanish newspapers to choose from, a billiard table, piano, a well-sorted library, bowling alley, gymnasium and a shooting range.” The visitor could sit on the verandah entwined with bougainvilleas and enjoy views of the Pasig River with its barges, rafts and bancas.

Even before the outbreak of the Spanish-American War in 1898, some German leaders wanted Imperial Germany to support Spain against the United States. During the Spanish-American War, Imperial Germany despatched a fleet to Manila Bay in order to strengthen German claims on the Philippines should the United States abandon the islands.  The German fleet of eight warships was especially aggressive and menacing. These ships were active in Manila Bay during the American naval blockade of Manila from May to August 1898.

While the blockade was enforced and Filipino troops surrounded the city, German, British, French, and even Japanese ships were present as they evacuated some of their citizens and protected their properties at the same time. Dewey realized that the German contingent was far stronger than the force that he could muster. Being quite concerned about Germany’s motives, Dewey requested more ships, additional ammunition, and reinforcements in order to deter any potential German threat and Spanish relief.

American interests had reason to fear that leaving the Philippines to the designs of the imperial powers might exclude the United States from the Asia-Pacific trade altogether. The Treaty of Paris in 1898 however settled the issue by having Spain cede the Philippines over to the United States for $20 million.

In 1900, a geology professor, Dr. Friedrich Rinne of the Polytechnic Academy at Hannover arrived from Germany to evaluate La Candelaria’s gold mines in Paracale and iron mines in Angat, Bulacan. He published an account of his travel.  He described his visit to the “German Club” , still officially known as Casino Union. “Last but not least, you will find that corner in the club where they have on draft fresh and cool beer, a beer like there is no other in East Asia. Brewed in Manila by our countryman Kiene, this beer would also bring him many honors in Germany.”

In the early 1900s, the German community grew to 264, many of them immigrated to the Philippines under the auspices of Germans who had already started businesses in Manila. Johannes Landahl came to Manila in 1890 to work for the Secker & Co., a dry goods and haberdashery. He married Dolores Suarez-Llanos and they had four children, all educated in Germany. His firm eventually became one of the leading import firms in the Philippines; handling textiles, hardware, machinery, railroad supplies and sundries, operating branch in Cebu, Aparri, New York and Hamburg. He was a founding member of the German Club and became a naturalized Filipino citizen in 1923.

Johannes Landahl

Johannes Landahl

Landahl’s daughter Elisa married Edgar Krohn Sr., who arrived in Manila in 1913 to work for a Hamburg company, Germann & Company. Edgar Krohn, Sr. was also one of the founding members of the German Club. His son, Edgar “Bubi” Krohn Jr. (a distant cousin of mine), remains a guiding force of the German Club.

Edgar Krohn Sr (standing) onboard-1913

Edgar Krohn Sr (standing) onboard-1913

Carlos Germann first came to the Philippines in 1858 and established one of the best known and oldest firms in the country. It was all-inclusive, being an export and import business, marine and fire insurance and significantly, an engineering department which operated the Santa Cruz Bridge and the Bridge of Spain; even building the electrically driven Lift Bridge over the Binondo Canal.

Binondo Lift Bridge

Binondo Lift Bridge

In 1912, German adventurer-entrepreneur Matias Kraut came to Manila, shopped around for business prospects, and eventually decided that stained-glass art would be a sound venture. Kraut started his foray into the production of glass windows in the Philippines by putting up a stained glass studio in Bilibid Viejo in Quiapo, Manila. This would lead to the birth of Kraut Art Glass, the country’s pioneer and leader in stained glass manufacturing.


Arriving in the archipelago a year earlier as representative of Moore Paints, Kraut distinguished himself as a house painter among ilustrados or middle class of central and southern Luzon through the prestigious Standard Paint Co. Soon enough, he was offering a novel design concept — interiors planned not just with paints, but with decorative windows as well, using his name as the brand for the art glass.

Before long, Kraut Art Glass had become a byword and an industry by itself because of its quality, custom-made windows which has adorned numerous churches, schools, residences and public landmarks in Manila and key cities across the country. Masterfully handcrafted and baked by artisans, its stained glass windows found their way in popular houses of worship such as Sto. Domingo Church, Baclaran’s Redemptorist Church and Ellinwood Malate Church, and historic edifices such as the Manila Metropolitan Theater (see below) and the Manila Hotel, whose main building is as old as Kraut itself. (The Philippine Star article 8/05/2013)

Kraut married a Spanish woman from Tarlac, Pilar Gonzalez, who bore him seven children. It is their grandchildren who continue his legacy through Kraut Art Glass today. The studio is on Dominga Street, Pasay. Metropolitan Theater facade by Kraut -1932

The German, Swiss, and Dutch members of the Casino Union continued in harmony for twenty years until disputes regarding the board of directors arose in 1905.  With no objections from the German government, the suggestion was made to change the Casino Club into an exclusively German club.

The Deutscher Klub or German Club was founded on January 16, 1906. The Club continued the lease contract of the Casino Union for the clubhouse at 209 General Solano St. in San Miguel.

M. Beckman of the German consulate wrote, “The official language of the club is German, and only members with German citizenship have the right to vote and can be elected to official positions in the club. Those members of other nationalities, who were entitled to vote and to hold official positions prior to the enactment of this amendment, will continue to enjoy this privileges. The name Casino Union will be changed to Deutscher Klub.”

The years following saw a rise in young Germans arriving in the Philippines, adding to the membership of the club. A building committee was appointed and a plan to construct a new clubhouse was prepared.

New property was purchased at 520 San Marcelino Street and with the help of donations from the members; George B. Asp was awarded the construction contract. The cornerstone of the new building was laid March 1914. The new clubhouse was completed and opened on January 1st, 1915. It was an impressive two-story concrete building with a large hall, function and guest rooms, bowling alleys and a tennis court.

From the beginning the members felt quite comfortable in their new home, especially with a new German cook from one of the vessels laid up in port. The new clubhouse was a well-attended gathering place for the German community as well as for the many captains, officers and engineers of German vessels lying idle in Manila Bay.

However, on February 1, 1917, diplomatic relations between Germany and the United States broke off. German ships were disabled and the crews were interned at a German camp located in Baguio, then later shipped to an internment camp in Hot Springs, North Carolina. The Manila Times wrote of the internment of German civilians, “Thirty-four Austrian and German aliens, comprised of men, women and children who had been deported from the islands, will leave tomorrow aboard the Army transporter “Sherman”. Upon arrival in the United States, they will be placed in detention camps…”

German consul Zitelmann left Manila in April 1917 and protection of German interests were handed over to the Swiss Consul. The Club continued to operate and some members moved into the guest rooms.

With the advent of WWI – the American government, under the auspices of the Alien Property Custodian, proceeded to seize German and Austrian firms in Manila  including their branches in the provinces; among them was the Manila Drug Co. (Botica Boie). The founder of Botica Cruz and terminated employees of Botica Boie were among those that were deported. Botica Boie itself was sold for P1,250,000 in February 1918.

In 1918, Manila’s population numbered 283,313 – 500 of whom were German nationals. Regardless of the war, relations between the American occupational government and the Germans remained friendly. The Germans who were permitted to remain in their previous positions continued to work under the supervision of the receivers appointed by the Governor General managing the seized businesses. The list at the Germann and Co. included Edgar Krohn, Sr. – then the youngest man on the force. Governor-General Harrison mentioned in his memoirs that, “Germans who had lived in the Philippines for years, and had assisted in a spirit of personal friendship and consideration in the building up of the country, were among the most popular of the foreigners.”

However, the German Club was not spared. The government officially notified the Club that on June 14, 1918, the premises would be closed and all residents required to vacate the building. The clubhouse was temporarily rented to the Army-Navy YMCA and eventually sold by the Alien Property Custodian to a Masonic lodge who renamed it the Plaridel Temple. The Temple was later occupied by Japanese soldiers during World War II and burned down during the battle for the liberation of Manila in 1945. A new Temple was rebuilt by 1948.

Plaridel Masonic Temple

Plaridel Masonic Temple



Over six hundred German and Austrians were deported to the United States for internment in detention camps. By the end of the war, November 1918, only 67 members remained at the German Club.   After war ended, past residents started returning back to the Philippines. On March 1920, former members gathered at a private residence and decided to formally incorporate the Club, buy new furniture and rent a house that would temporarily serve its purpose.

After more than a year, the Club opened its new premises at 1067 Calle Arlegui in Quiapo. Perhaps due to swelling membership, a new, larger building was selected at 1032 Isaac Peral in June 1922.   The following year, German residents had firmly re-established themselves. New immigrants were landing on Philippine shores, perhaps leaving their homeland from the deploring situation experienced after the end of WWI.

The Club members decided to organize a welfare bazaar which was not only attended by the German community but many other nationalities as well. The club premises were beautifully illuminated, there was a beer garden, shooting gallery, wine and champagne restaurants, and some of the members and their wives even performed a cabaret show.   Soon after, the members decided to forego leasing their premises and agreed to construct their own clubhouse. A 4,000 square meter lot was purchased from the Casino Español on San Luis Street for P60,000. Plans by club member John Ohaus were submitted and approved unanimously. The transfer from Isaac Peral to San Luis Street took place on April 1925.  By 1931, membership had surged to 220, proof of the excellent standing enjoyed not only by the club but also by the entire German community in the Philippines.

The new club at San Luis had a large verandah fronting the entrance, restaurant facilities, a spacious bar, billiard hall and in-house bowling alley. The second floor offered 9 rooms rented out as bachelor units to male members. A tennis court was situated at the corner of a spacious garden which was used for outdoor festivities.

The German Club was in its heyday in the Thirties, as with the rest of Manila. Many called it the Golden Period. Manila was a cosmopolitan city on par with European and American cities and enjoyed being in the center of trade and business in the Far East.

German Club Ocktoberfest-1930

German Club Ocktoberfest-1930


German Club hall-1931

But trouble brewed in Europe when Hitler and his National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP) took control of Germany. Nazi party activities were evidenced in Manila at the end of 1933 where a certain member of the NSDAP working for Botica Boie was believed to be spying on his fellow countrymen.

Consul Gustav A.Sakowsky (middle) with Osmeña on the left.

In the center are Sergio Osmeña and Consul Gustav Sakowsky at a party in the German Consulate.

The German Consul however reported that Manila Germans maintained friendly relations with the local community as well as prominent foreign Jews and had no intentions of severing these relationships.   During 1937 and 1938, severe disagreements between the Club’s directors and German Consul Sakowsky regarding cooperation with Club members and the NSDAP Party led to Sakowsky’s resignation and his condemnation that the Club would be considered an enemy of the Third Reich and expected members to resign. The following was a UP article dated August 18, 1938.“German Consul G.A. Sakowsky tonight ordered that all Reich nationals immediately resign from membership in the German Club here because of the club’s failure to expel 3 members of German-Jewish descent. The ultimatum threw the small German colony into an uproar.”

Paul V.McNutt-US High Commissioner

Paul V.McNutt-US High Commissioner

Incensed, the members brought the matter to Paul McNutt, U.S. High Commissioner and reported that only a small minority supported Sakowsky. Commissioner Paul V. McNutt took the action to sternly warn Sakowsky of the rights of German Manila residents. “It is understood Herr Sakowsky threatened to cancel German passports unless German members of the club resigned. Although all versions of the trouble are unofficial, Herr Sakowsky is said to have objected to “non-Aryan” membership in the club and extended Nazi policy in such matters to German nationals living abroad, whereupon Germans in the club, many of them long-time Manila residents, strenuously objected.” New York Times article, August 30, 1938 

Sakowsky left the Philippines in May, 1938 to the delight of many Manila Germans. The Club’s Board of Directors permitted those members who had resigned to rejoin the Club.

September, 1939 marked the beginning of WWII  in Europe. In the Spring of 1940, Philippine President Manuel Quezon, and U.S. High Commissioner Paul McNutt and Colonel Dwight Eisenhower — hatched an intricate international plan of rescue and re-settlement, saving 1,300 Jews from certain death in Nazi concentration camps.

Alex Frieder with Jewish Refugees-1940

Alex Frieder with Jewish Refugees-1940

Most of Manila’s German residents remained unsympathetic to Hitler’s cause. Some chose to return home while others remained, fearful of voicing their disapproval of Hitler, and fearing reprisal on their relatives still living in Germany. Membership in the Club dwindled and in order to compensate for reduced income, the Club organized several sport tournaments but it was clear the Club’s best moments were behind it.

Germany Chancellery on Calle Arlegui, San Miguel.

Germany Chancellery on Calle Arlegui, San Miguel.

The German Consulate was ordered closed on July 9, 1941, as more members departed for their homeland and others chose to resign. The German community was filled with anxiety and great concern over their future as Radio Berlin announced Hitler’s declaration of war against the United States.

Bilibid Prison, Dec 12, 1941

Bilibid Prison, Dec 12, 1941

At midnight on December 11, 1941, Hitler declared war against the United States. On the following morning, Martin Ohaus was among 72 German nationals including Edgar Krohn, Sr., Otto Koehlmoos, Walter Kuehne, Ulrich von Prittwitz, Karl Severien, and Kurt Wegner (all fathers of classmates I later knew at the American School), who were arrested by American and Filipino soldiers and transported for internment to the National Penitentiary at Muntinlupa, where approximately 300 Japanese civilians had been confined since the outbreak of the war. Italian citizens were likewise interned. One internee, German Club member Wolfgang Druecke, noted that in addition to Germans, two Britons and two Swiss nationals had been picked up as enemy aliens.

They were all brought to barracks formerly used by prisoners with no cots, no beds, only double-deck wooden bunks without mattresses, pillows or blankets. After much complaint, they were finally each given a blanket and pillow. They had to sleep in the office attire they were wearing when arrested as they were not allowed to bring along any personal belongings. Their food, cooked by the Japanese interned next door, was “just plain lousy” – half-cooked rice, some vegetables, and water to drink. It was noted that the American officers were “overbearing”, but the Filipino officers did everything within their means to make life more pleasant for the internees.

Through the grapevine they heard that the Japanese had landed and were advancing toward Manila, while the Americans and Filipinos were withdrawing everywhere. On December 28, when they went outside their barracks, they found the that the American and Filipino soldiers were no longer there. They were informed by a few Constabulary soldiers that they were free to leave. On January 2, 1942, Manila was occupied by the Japanese. Manila was declared an “Open City” on Christmas Day, 1941. Three days later, the alien prisoners were allowed to go home after their 16 day internment. The released Germans and their families gathered at the German Club for a thanksgiving and fellowship lunch.

The Japanese occupation took its toll on trade between Manila and the outside world and the incomes of many business owners, including those within the German community, were severely reduced. During that time, the German Club became the center of interest and activities, serving low-cost lunches, offering recreation and even short wave broadcasts of news events from Germany.

Although Germany and Japan were considered allies, relations between the two communities in Manila were never harmonious. Food supplies and medicine dwindled as the occupation entered its third year.   W. Kuehne reported, “Our office and store, the Botica de Santa Cruz, located on Plaza Goiti at the foot of Sta. Cruz Bridge, was kept open on a limited schedule right up to the entry of the American forces. Our pharmacy was the only major drugstore still in operation and even as our own stock diminished, we were still able to dispense medical supplies to the ailing public.”   The worst was yet to come as the American forces landed in Lingayen in January 1945, driving towards the city of Manila.

On the morning of Feb. 10, 1945, about 800 people including Filipinos, Spanish and five German nationals, went to the German Club on San Luis Street in Ermita to find shelter in a dugout located on the tennis court and in the garden,” recalls Edgar “Bubi” Krohn Jr., a Philippine-born German who survived the destruction and the massacre during the World War II battle for the liberation of Manila from the Japanese imperial forces.

“At about noon, a platoon of Japanese Marines who had cordoned off the 4,000 square meters of the club premises, started killing everyone in sight,” he says, continuing his painful remembrances of things past. “Martin and Margaret Ohaus, Gustav Vierich, Heinrich Bischoff and Conrad Clausen were the first Germans murdered on the first floor of the club building. The Japanese Marines then systematically fired their weapons into the area beneath the club building which had been converted into an emergency air raid shelter. Gasoline was poured into the shelter as well as the tennis court; these were torched right after.”

Those who attempted to escape the inferno were gunned down. The killing continued all day and into the night. When Martin Ohaus’ bloated body was found several days later by American soldiers, he was still clutching his German passport, “apparently to convince the Japanese that he was a German citizen” and an ally. His body bore several bayonet wounds.

“Over 100,000 Filipino civilians and a total of 25 Germans (five at the German Club) were killed in the battle for Manila,” Krohn continues. “The German-Japanese relationship during the occupation had never been very good from the start. We considered ourselves neutral rather than allies.” Bubi, about 16 at the time, moved from building to building trying to avoid the fires that were deliberately being set by the Japanese, as well as the bullets and bombs that were flying all over the place.

Interestingly, Bubi , his parents and other Germans were interned by the Americans at Bilibid, the Manila City Jail, for several months after the liberation. They were finally released in September, more than a month after the war was over. Shown below is Bubi, his father, Edgar Sr. and mother, Elisa.

Krohn Family after liberation

Krohn Family after liberation

All Manila lay in ruins, especially the city districts south of the Pasig. The Alien Property Custodian still maintained custody of the German Club on San Luis Street. Not until 1948 did W. Kleinen, club president, negotiated to have the property returned. On November 25th of that year, the first postwar regular general membership meeting was held at the Selecta Restaurant at the corner of Lepanto and Azcarraga streets. It was decided to sell the property at San Luis in 1950 to Senator C.M. Recto.

The next several years found club activities being held at various restaurants and clubs around Manila: at the New Europe Restaurant, Casino Español and even bowling evenings at the Elks Club. During the years of 1966-1967, the club moved to the Patio Flamenco on Roxas Boulevard in Pasay City where it rented two rooms, a large garden and a swimming pool but a sudden influx of members forced a move to a large venue. At that time, Emil Landert of the Swiss Inn decided to relocate to a location close to the Paco Cemetery so it was decided to lease a space of approximately 200 sq.meters on the third floor of the new building on 1394 General Luna Street.

In 1977 – 1978, increasing membership demanded yet another move. The Board of Directors felt a location in the new business center of Makati quite desirable and in August 1979 the penthouse of Eurovilla II Condominium in Legaspi Village was purchased. The new club was opened in time for the Christmas Party on December 19, 1980.







I wish to acknowledge the information and photos from “The German Club Story – Centennial Edition” ©2008 by the German Club with permission from Edgar Krohn, Jr. and photos and stories from Paul Severien, and Gunter Prittwitz.

"Bubi" Krohn, Michelle and Lou Gopal

“Bubi” Krohn, Michelle and Lou Gopal

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57 Responses to German Club

  1. ramon zaldarriaga says:

    Wow ! What a fantastic insight into another chapter of the old Manila. Thanks to you, one never stops discovering new things about the city we all loved ! Thanks for sharing again…

  2. Julius Augustus Radam says:

    Applause! Applause! Mr. Lou Gopal! I just learned a lot! Great Article sir!

  3. Fulgencio Factoran says:

    Thank you for this article. Provides good insight about our city and our German friends.

  4. Joel A Pengson says:

    Very informative! Splendid historical account!

  5. Noelle Ayres Banser says:

    Thanks for the picture of the New Europe. I was trying to describe that glass wall on another Manila Nostalgia site, and was hoping that someone would have a picture of it to post! Louie to the rescue! Thanks for bringing back memories. The New Europe and the Swiss Inn were our favorite restaurants.

  6. Chato Mañeru says:

    Excellent write-up! Well done Lou! 🙂

  7. Bill Hannaford says:

    Fascinating study, Lou. Saw some names that ring a bell… parents of kids we knew! I had no idea of the German influence in the Philippines! Thanks. Have you done a study on those 1300 Jews?

    Bill Hannaford

  8. Robert T. Medley says:

    Lou you have opened a chapter on the Philippines I was not acquainted with.I have read many books on the
    Philippines including one that began the Philippine story around 400 AD.
    Your work is appreciated.
    Kitsap County Filipino-American Association presents Bataan Remembrance Day on 12 April 2014.The event begins at 10:00 AM at Bataan Park in East Bremerton. The speaker this year is Captain Russell J. Henry,USN (Ret),grandson of Maj. Gen. Albert M.Jones who led the Filipino-American Forces defending Bataan.Jones was in the Death March and 3 1/2 years as a POW.Henry lived with Jones in the Philippines after liberation.Gen. Jones loved the Philippine and Filipinos so much that he chose to continue serving there after Liberation.

  9. Jeanne Jacob says:

    Another superb story, Lou! Thanks very much for bringing Manila’s history to life!

  10. Antonio Roensch Bosch says:

    Very interesting indeed. My grandfather, Alfred (Don Alfredo) Roensch was one of the founding members of the German Club. He arrived in the Philippines in the late 1890’s. He came to take over the business of his father Adolf who was a trader. My grandfather established A. Roensch which was the largest supplier of sporting goods.

  11. Jo Ann Tiongson Dizon says:

    Thank you for splendid write-up. This is the first time I am able to see a picture of the original Botica de Santa Cruz which was established in 1861 by Agustin Westernhagen, a German pharmacist. Botica de Santa Cruz is the second oldest drug company still in business today (next to Botica Boie) and was acknowledged as the 9th oldest company by the Department of Trade and Industry. My grandfather, Toribio Teodoro the founder of Ang Tibay Shoes bought the company from Carlos Jahrling after WWII in 1945. The company is now known as The Pharmedic Corporation-Botica de Santa Cruz and has been passed down to my mother, Josefina Teodoro Tiongson since my grandfather passed away in 1965. I had the privilege of having met Mr. Walter Kuehne (mentioned in the article) and Mr. Wolfgang Druecke in my younger years because they decided to stay with Botica de Santa Cruz even after my grandfather took over. Both of them married Germans whom they met here. They raised their families here and eventually died here also. They were both active members of the German Club. I am very proud to be running a company which has so much history behind it!

  12. Paul Severien says:

    Very well written, Lou. Another nostalgic chapter in the history of 20th century Manila.

    Paul Severien

  13. marilu Rodriguez says:

    Great writing reading your articles!!

  14. Rafael E. Esteva says:

    My aunt, Pacita Esteva, married Richard “Dick” Lichnock, who was of German descent. They lived in Baguio and my cousins, Rusty, Fritz, Mitch and Anton studied in Brent and were active soccer players. Dick once managed the Ford dealership and they lived in Quezon Hill Road. I spent several summer vacations with them in my younger days

  15. Gisela Wegner Kistner says:

    Thank you so much Lou. My Mom’s story of our interment in Bilibid by the Americans was my being fingerprinted over her protests (I was just a few months old) and being told “you’re in the army now, ma’m”. My dad, Kurt Wegner, was the best launderer of diapers. Mine were always sparking white.

  16. Eduardo R de la Cruz says:

    I came upon this article due to my interest in Germans in the Philippines. My mother’s grandfather was part-German.
    Where is Kitsap County? My father was in the Death March.
    Thank you.

  17. Eduardo R de la Cruz says:

    Hello, Ms Dizon.
    I read your post with great interest as I and my niece are gathering information about our ancestry.
    Carlos Jahrling was the brother of my great-grandfather (Valerius Jahrling) on my mother’s side.
    Do you have any other information relating to the Jahrlings?
    Thank you.

  18. Eduardo R de la Cruz says:

    Hello to everyone on this site.
    I did not see any mention of the Jahrling (or Jaehrling) surname in the stories about Germans in the Philippines. They were from Offenbach, as far as I know from bits of information from older relatives. Carlos Jahrling was a pharmacist in Manila. His brother , Valerius J., my great-grandfather on my mother’s side, was a businessman in Cebu. Any information on this family is appreciated.

  19. Sal Estrada says:

    Another excellent write-up Lou! Very informative and educational about an aspect of Philippine history that is not very well known. I had the pleasure of knowing Adolfo Roensch (De La Salle alumnus, retired executive of San Miguel Corp, who passed away in the San Francisco bay area in the mid-90’s) and also Bobby Kraut (De La Salle alumnus) and had no idea about their German ancestry.

  20. Paul Severien says:

    I just wanted to add that both Heinz Woelke and Emil Landert were cooks at the Old Europe restaurant before the War. After the War, Woelke established the New Europe and Emil Landert the Swiss Inn.

  21. J. Ramón L. Faustmann says:

    Lou, great research, great article!!!!! I remember Bubi Krohn, as a friend of my father, Ramón Faustmann Peréz. In fact there are several party pictures where they both are shown!!!!!! My father, would play chess in the German Club, he had been invited to be a member, he said because of his last name. I clearly remember when he was one of the twenty or so chess players that played, in an exhibition game versus the famous, controversial, Bobby Fischer, American World Chess Champion, in the Paco German Club! I still have the Narra Chess board, that my father played in that competition, I understand that he was one of those that tied with Bobby Fisher!!!!!

  22. BidangMart says:

    Very very good primo. your passion, is amazing.

  23. Caren de la Cruz says:

    I am happy to know what happened to Botica de Santa Cruz, thanks for writing that, Ms. Dizon! Just in the past day or two I have seen several photos of the Botica, posted on Manila Nostalgia’s Facebook page by various members. The location was next to Plaza Lunch in Plaza Goiti, each business had a corner of the building.

  24. Caren de la Cruz says:

    Kitsap County/Bremerton are in Washington State. This is a good event to know about, Thanks!

  25. Nick Garcia Jimenez says:

    I wasn’t aware of the Plaridel Masonic Temple being the former German Club until you wrote this splendid article. I have been in and out of that temple since I was a kid, being a freemason’s son. This sure adds more history to my reminiscences. Very well done, Mr. Gopal.

  26. Theodor Meyer says:

    Thank you for the very informative article. I have always been told that my great grandfather, Theodor Wilhelm Emanuel Meyer, was a German pharmacist who started or was involved in the first western style pharmacy in Manila. He also had a lemonade factory. He was born in Uberlingen in 1842, Germany, immigrated to Manila and married Maxima Alas y Lauchengco a concert pianist who family was wealthy. Do you have any information about him/ them?

  27. J.K. Grupe says:

    There was Botica de Quiapo circa 1870 by Gustav Grupe (Don Gustavo) he came with Jacobo Zobel and Julius Nohr in 1866 from Hamburg.

  28. Eike Harder says:

    Dear Mr. Gopal,
    Thank you for “Manila Nostalgia’ and the ‘German Club’ in particular. For me it triggered off a trip down memory lane to a seemingly distant past, assisted by some photos I still have.
    For some 2 years from early 1962 I was on secondment to Botica de Santa Cruz from Agfa in Leverkusen, Germany. At the time BdSC was managed by an old Manila hand and stalwart: Mr. Walter Kuehne, who proved most helpful and introduced me to the German Club then located on Dewey (Roxas) Blvd.. I have fond memories of the social events at the club (Christmas parties, Karneval, Tanztees). The Swiss Inn was also a popular watering hole amongst German speaking expatriates.
    After a short spell at the Army & Navy Club, I rented an apartment aptly named Sunset View Terraces at
    1638 A. Mabini St. owned by Mrs. Teague, who operated a beauty salon next door; she is mentioned in your
    Ermita-Series as having lived to the ripe old age of 100.
    From the comment by Mrs. Jo Ann Tiongson Dizon I gather that Botica de Santa Cruz (now The Pharmedic
    Corporation) is still in business and in the family of her grandfather Mr. Toribio Teodoro, who acquired it from Dr. Jaehrling after WW II.
    Thank you for bringing alive these old memories. Sincerely, Eike Harder

  29. Ronaldo Adoptante says:

    Wow…. That’s a nice input Lou..I have met old German and Austrian nationals where I work and they been asking me about pre-WWII Philippines but I can not give them anything…. Now I know what to tell them. Nice work, really

  30. Ramon M. Ong says:

    Thank you, Mr. Lou Gopal for this article. I was invited for lunch at the German Club about 20 years ago. I am delighted to read about the full history of the German Club. When I was an Officer in the Philippine Army, I had the opportunity to study at the German Armed Forces’ General Staff College in Hamburg, Germany. This was a great experience. Ja wohl, es gelang mir die deutsche Sprache zu lernen.

  31. Lorelei Mayer says:

    Lou, when the Americans interned the Germans during WWI to a camp in Hot Springs , they also picked up German nationals in Guam, including my maternal great grandfather Hermann Costenoble and two of his sons, Erich and Fritz. We have a picture of them taken in Hot Springs attending Spanish class. Thank you again for another great article.

  32. Eduardo de la Cruz says:

    Hi, Lou.
    I want to correct an error in my email of Jan. 28, 2014. Dr. Carlos Jahrling was a son, not a brother of Valerius Jahrling. (The “a” should have an umlaut; Anglicised form is “Jaehrling” but the spelling has been simplified to “Jahrling”). Valerius is my maternal great-grandfather. In fact there were two Jahrling Pharmacists. The second one was Valerio Jaehrling, the youngest child born posthumously because Valerius, on his way to Germany with the four older children, died suddenly on board ship and was buried at sea in the Indian Ocean. Carlos, who got his Pharmacy degree in Spain, was the oldest son and Valerio, who got his at the University of Wisconsin, the youngest. There’s a photo of the interior of the Botica de Santa Cruz prior to WWII, with many of the staff, including both Carlos and Valerio, in white uniform standing among the wares in the store. Incidentally, Valerius married Luisa Cala y Suico in Cebu where he ran a business.

  33. Eduardo de la Cruz says:

    I’d like to ask if you have any information, recollections of stories that may have been told about Carlos Jahrling or Jaehrling at the Botica de Santa Cruz. or of Valerio Jahrling, his younger brother also a pharmacist who may still have been working there at the time you were there. Carlos was a founding member of the German Club. They are my maternal grand uncles.
    Thank you.

  34. Kim says:

    Nice blog Sir! I wonder if you have stories to share about some old Chinese establishments within the Binondo area. Would love to hear them from you! Thanks Sir Lou!

  35. Carmenchu Oria says:

    Hola, Lou. I haven´t posted anything here in a very, very looooong time. Just wanted to add the following info. to this: my mother was Pilar Garriz QEPD (my dad is Jesús Oria) and her relatives (Rosario & Josefina Garriz) lost their husbands in this German Club during the Battle of Manila:
    Un abrazo,

  36. Rose Marie Fructuoso says:

    Dick Lichnock was my uncle. First cousin of my father. Dick’s mother was Maria Luisa Fructuoso de Lichnock.

  37. J. A. Igoa says:

    I believe Gustav Grupe to be the brother of Heinrich (Enrique) Grupe, my fraternal great grandfather, both brothers coming to the Philippines to start a pharmacy business. Heinrich’s son, Emilio Grupe, was among the Manila intelligence group in WWII charged with aiding the resistance, and jointly executed by the occupying force in August 1944. Emilio Grupe is now forever honored as part of the Heroes Monument at the North Manila Cemetery. Bless the Filipino-Germans for what they have contributed to their adopted country.

  38. Gul Mahtani says:

    Is it possible to know about the Sindhis (Indians) who established Bazzars in Manila in the early 1900

  39. J.K. Grupe says:

    Hi J,

    I was told stories about Emilio and his marker in north cemetery. A decade ago I had a chance to meet descendants of Hermann Grupe…the Gayoso-Grupe from Iloilo. They gave me a picture of Hermann and I gave them a book history of German in the Phils. I was told he was a cousin of Enrique ?….My Paternal ancestor was also Enrique Grupe from Negros who was involved in agriculture under Phil. National Bank. I still keep his Baptismal Cert. when he was converted to Catholic that changed his name from Heinrich to Enrique 😉

    Much of our Grupe kin (around 5 of them) were buried in the old protestant cemetery/ non-Catholic foreigner in San Pedro, Makati. Many Germans were buried there including Prince Ludwig von Löwenstein-Wertheim-Freudenberg who died in the Philippine revolution.

  40. David M Reich says:

    I’m looking for history/info about my ancestors (Charles David Reich and his siblings Rebecca, Ethel, Lillian, George, Henry Leo, Selina, mother Mina. They were there in early 1900s and started textiles business; Charles David was imprisoned by Japanese in Shanghai, the others spent the war in the Santo Tomas prison camp. My father CDR, jr. went to school in Baggio 1920s.

    Can you help?

    Thank you. David M. reich

  41. Antonio R. Sievert says:

    I enjoyed reading this historical account of the evolution of the Manila German Club. I grew up in Cebu and even there was a Botica Boie. In the early 2000s when I was writing my book “Across the Seas: Three Brothers Find New Lives in Colonial Philippines,” I was introduced to a fascinating man named Georg Weber. He and I became friends and I learned a lot from him since he was an “abaca” man. Abacá and the firms dealing with the production and export of this vital Philippine resource was the theme of my book. Georg, together with Josechu Pueo, were executives of the then TAG Fibers, Inc. We spent not a few times meeting and dining at the Manila German Club of which Georg Weber was a long time member. We continued to meet with Georg and Josechu when my wife, Elizabeth Potter Sievert, begun to write her book, “The Story of Abaca,” published by the Ateneo de Manila University Press in 2009.

  42. Carmela Mulet Ureta says:

    Hello, I knew for a fact that Valerio Jahrling was married to Vicenta Navarro and the couple had 4children. I don’t know if we are talking about the same Valerio Jahrling who was one of the founders of Centro Escolar University who happens to be a pharmacist too of Botica Boie. These couple Vicenta and Valerio took care of my Mom when her parents died at a young age ( that was what she was told) My mom’s name is Carmen Navarro Mulet. We are trying to trace our ancestry too from my mother side. I grew up knowing The family of Valerio Jahrling very well. His last son Luis Jahrling died only this August 26, 2018. He was our last link to know about our ancestry.

  43. John Rich says:

    My father’s family lived in the Phillippians late 19th early 20th century, they were in the business of textiles and wood, is my understanding. They left just before the Japanese invaded Manila and moved to California in 1940(?). The story goes my Grandfather was on the last ship that left Manila Harbor. Their home was restored during the war. The family that did not leave were sent to Japanese war camps.

  44. karl c. velhagen says:

    i recall my grandfather, Adolf Velhagen, was a founding member. Please let me know if this information is accurate.

    Thank you!

  45. karl velhagen says:


  46. lougopal says:

    Hello. Yes I have found his name listed as a member in 1910. The paragraph in the book “The German Club Story” states,
    “The years following the founding of the Club in 1906 saw a notable rise in arrivals of young Germans in the Philippines to take up positions in various companies operating in the country. As the number of members kept growing, the Board of the Club in 1911 appointed a Building Committee which was given the task to select a suitable parcel, prepare an appropriate plan and solicit quotations for the construction of a clubhouse. Elected to this committee were Messrs.Velhagen, Rosastzien, Scheunemann, and Sidler.”

    No further reference to Adolf Velhagen was made in the book.
    In addition to Adolf, there is also a Max Velhagen listed as a member in 1971.
    I hope this helps you.

  47. I was just informed by Ms. Leslie Murray, child internee at Sto. Tomas, that Edgar “Bubi” Krohn passed away recently. So sad to hear.

  48. juergen soehring says:

    I was quite exited reading about the history of germans in the philippines. in the early 1970’s my hamburg employer delegated me to manila as sales manager for textile machinery for the local booming textile indutry. in the following years i became a member of the german club, at that time located in the swiss inn. small and cosy the atmosphere, perfect service and good food. during that time the club rented two simple beach huts plus a motorized banca near nasugbu/batangas. as i was part of the beachhouse commitee, i and my commitee fellows took any opportunity for a weekend at the desertrd beach. now i am 77 and live in thailand and keep my manila years deep in my memory.

  49. Thomas Wiersing says:


    Many thanks for this fascinating article about the club of which I am sine a year a member!

    Best regards,
    Thomas Wiersing

  50. Caren de la Cruz says:

    Hi Carmela! I am the niece of Eduardo above, and yes, Valerio and Vicenta are our relatives. I was fortunate to get to know and meet a few times Lourdes Jahrling in California. I did not know Luis passed away, sorry to hear. I don’t know that I can be of much help but I do have a family tree on and always enjoy hearing stories about anyone in our family!

  51. Carol Wright says:

    I believe I am related to Walter Neumark who is listed as one of the founding members of the German Club. He and my grandparents Max and Katherine Fischer as German Nationals were under the Enemy alien Act removed from the Philippines in 1917 aboard the U S troop ship Sheridan and held at the internment camp on Angel Island in San Francisco Bay. They returned to the Philippines after the war but their property had been confiscated. Max and Katherine eventually returned to San Francisco. Walter Neumark died in 1922 in Manila. I have no other information on Walter Neumark. If someone has additional information I would appreciate it.

  52. Kristin Ramsden says:

    Hello! Thanks for this informative article!
    Did you ever come across the name Werner Schetelig? He was my grandfather, lived in San Pablo, Laguna, had a coconut oil and ice-making factory, was a Freemason (GrandMaster) and fulfilled his dream to own a small island there when he bought (Balisen). He became the ‘grandfather’ of San Pablo when he helped the residents all get up to the mountains to escape the Japanese invasion and apparently saved their lives by doing so. As a result, they named a street in San Pablo after him, but this name was changed by the mayor at the time, just before I came back to visit PI in the year 2000. He gave up his german citizenship in the late 30’s and became Philipino, not wanting to be drawn in to fight for Hitler’s Germany, as he had already fought in WWI, and could not support Hitler or another war.
    I would love to know if you or anyone has any anecdotes or more information about him?
    Thank you again!

  53. Mari Garcia says:

    Hello Lou
    Thank you for the great article! My great grandfather Hermann Loewinsohn came to the Philippines in the late 1880’s. He married my great grandmother Lea Moehr. He was an accountant and among other things he served as a financial advisor/auditor to the nuns of the Assumption Convent. As a result, my grandmother Ida Loewinsohn became one of the first batch of students together with Esperanza Cu-Unjieng who then entered the order and was known as Mother Espy to generations of Assumptionistas.

  54. Johann Stockinger says:

    The famous Austrian professor of ophthalmology, Ernst Fuchs (1851-1930), visited the Philippines from January 7 to 18, 1923, mentioning a Dr. Jährling who had accompanied him on some excursions. On January 15, 1923, Professor Fuchs, accompanied by Dr. Jährling, visited a Mr. Weber, the director of the largest tobacco factory in the Philippines.
    Dr. Jährling also told Fuchs something about Ferdinand Blumentritt.
    Another person who accompanied Fuchs on his excursions was the ophthalmologist Dr. Sevilla.
    Fuchs also lectured in Manila, but he did not give the name of the university.
    More about Ernst Fuchs:


  55. Jon Mattes says:

    For those interested in learning more about the fate of the German Club during February, 1945, there is a book by James M. Scott: “Rampage – MacArthur, Yamashita, and the Battle of Manilla”, W.W. Norton & Company, 2018.

    Several of the names cited within this website and reader comments will be found in the book, including their detailed fates – particularly members of the Krohn family.

    Word of warning: most of the fates of these people do not make for pleasant reading. In fact, I had to pause frequently due to the nearly inconceivable brutal atrocities that were committed upon the civilian population of Manilla for weeks on end.

  56. RUEL FAROL says:

    I was reading By Sword and Fire by Alfonso Aluit, and this article is a very enlightening complement to the stories told in Mr. Aluit’s book. Thank you for sharing this.

  57. Myles Garcia says:

    Hi Lou,
    Just came upon this page last night. Three comments:
    (1) Great researched piece as always.
    (2) The pic of the German chancery became a Laperal mansion in the later post-war years (maybe the 1950s to the 1960s) and then after martial law was declared by Marcos in 1972, that was the mansion Imelda Marcos just “appropriated” on a whim then.
    (3) Before I came upon your excellent article, I had written this article about a German ship which sat out the WW1 years in Cebu. I thought you might want to tag it onto this same subject. “A Steel Prinzess Stranded in Cebu.”

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