Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg


Shino Yuo
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phone: 0345-55 21549
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Universitätsring 19/20
06108 Halle (Saale)

postal address:
Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg
International Office
06099 Halle (Saale)

Linda Bilz
Studentische Mitarbeiterin

International Office
06099 Halle (Saale)

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Famous MLU Alumni

Anton Wilhelm Amo (1703-1753)

Studies and doctorate at Halle University
First philosoph and jurist of African origin known to have attended a European university

Since 1994, the University of Halle annually awards the Anton Wilhelm Amo Prize honouring Germany’s first African philosopher. The Anton Wilhelm Amo prize at the University of Halle awards outstanding scientific works by students and graduates.

Anton Wilhelm Amo was born in the early 18th century in the Axim region of present-day Ghana. At the age of about four, he was taken to the palace of Anthony Ulrich, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel (1633-1714).

Amo entered the University of Halle in 1727 where he studied philosophy and law. He finished his doctorate in Wittenberg, titling his thesis De humanae mentis apatheia (eng. On the Absence of Sensation in the Human Mind and its Presence in our Organic and Living Body). He gave lectures at the Philosophical Faculties of the universities of Halle and Wittenberg from 1736 to 1738, and in Jena in 1739. Besides German and Latin, Amo mastered Greek, Dutch and French.

Amo left Germany and returned to Ghana in 1747. His life from then on becomes more obscure. The exact date, place, and manner of his death are unknown, though he probably died in 1759 at the fort in Chama in Ghana.

The University of Halle-Wittenberg had erected a statue by sculptor Gerhard Geyer in memory of Amo in 1965. Since no portrait of Amo exists, the statue shows an African woman and an African man. A commemorative plaque has been added in 1975.

Heinrich Melchior Mühlenberg (1711-1787)

Studies of Theology at Halle University
Founder of the American Lutheran Church in North America

Heinrich Melchior Mühlenberg studied theology at the universities of Göttingen and Halle, worked at the Francke Foundations in Halle and then became pastor in Großhennersdorf. In 1741, Gotthilf August Francke, the son and successor of the Foundation’s founder, August Herrmann Francke, encouraged Muhlenberg to accept a call from German-speaking Lutherans in Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, Providence and New Hanover).

Mühlenberg started building an institutionalized Lutheran church in Philadelphia after he has arrived in 1742. He also provided leadership to a series of congregations from Maryland to New York, working to secure control over less qualified pastors and starting new congregations among the settlers of the region. In 1748 he called together The Ministerium of Pennsylvania, the first permanent Lutheran synod in America. He helped to prepare a uniform liturgy that same year, and also wrote basic tenets for an ecclesiastical constitution, which most of the churches adopted in 1761.

Poor health forced him into limited activity and retirement. He eventually died at his home in Trappe, Pennsylvania on 7th October 1787.

Paul Georg von Möllendorff (1847-1901)

Studies of Law and Oriental Studies at Halle University
1882-1885 Vice Minister of the Kingdom Korea

Paul Georg von Möllendorff was a German linguist and diplomat. He enrolled at the University of Halle in 1865, where he studied law, oriental studies and philology. In 1869, Möllendorff interrupted his studies and went to China in order to join the Imperial Maritime Customs Service in Shanghai. While working for the Customs in Shanghai and later Hankou, Möllendorff acquired a good command of Chinese and quickly passed the required language exam. However, he soon grew dissatisfied with his tasks in the service and left it in 1874 in order to join the German consular service as an interpreter and was eventually promoted German vice-consul in Tianjin.

In 1882, Li Hongzhang recommended Möllendorff to the position of the advisor to the Korean government and in December 1882, he arrived in Seoul for his first audience with King Gojong. Möllendorff quickly learned enough Korean to be able to communicate with the king and soon earned his trust- He was eventually appointed deputy foreign minister and charged with the establishment of the Korean Customs Service.

Möllendorff wanted to assert the independence of Korea and contrary to the wishes of Li Hongzhang, he wanted to make the Korean Customs Service as independent from the Chinese Maritime Customs Service as possible. Möllendorff also advocated that Korea entered into an alliance with the Russian Empire to counterbalance Chinese and Japanese influences on the Korean peninsula. In response to this, the British occupied the Korean island of Geomun by force, calling it Port Hamilton. Consequently, the Qing government felt that Möllendorff acted too independently and in 1885, Li Hongzhang forced Möllendorff's resignation from the Korean government. In 1888, King Gojong unsuccessfully tried to reinstate Möllendorff.

Having left his position in Korean government, Möllendorff returned to work in the Imperial Maritime Customs and became Commissioner of Customs in the southern treaty port of Ningbo, where he would spend the last days of his life.

Inazo Nitobe (1862-1933)

1890 Doctorate at Halle University
1920 Vice General Secretary of the League of Nations

Inazo Nitobe was a Japanese agricultural economist, author, diplomat and politician.

Nitobe studied at the Agricultural College in Sapporo, International Relations in Tokyo, later at the John Hopkins University in Baltimore (USA) and at several German universities. He stayed in Bonn, Berlin and Halle, where he received his doctoral degree with his work “Über den japanischen Grundbesitz”.

At the age of 37, Nitobe wrote his famous book Bushido: The Soul of Japan that was first published in German in 1903. Nitobe acted as a mediator between the USA and Japan in the 1930s. In 1920, he became Vice General Secretary of the League of Nations. As the official delegate of the League of Nations, Nitobe took part in the World Congress of Esperanto and reported on the status of Esperanto to the General Assembly of the League.

Nitobe’s portrait was featured on the 5000 Yen banknote, printed from 1984 to 2004. The Nitobe Memorial Garden in Vancouver is named in his honour.