(1846-1916, German)

Dr. Wilhelm Hübbe-Schleiden was a prominent German researcher and academic who contributed greatly to the formation of the Theosophical Society in Germany, and we know that he received four letters from the Masters.

 Table of contents

     1.  Letters
     2.  Biography
     3.  Writings


  • You can read the letters that Masters send to him here. 
  • And you can read two unpublished letters that Blavatsky wrote to the Dr. Schleiden addressing the crisis of confidence towards her that caused the Hodson’s Report here. 
  • And you can also read the letter he wrote to Countesses Constance Wachtmeister where he narrated his experience with Blavatsky and the elaboration of the Secret Doctrine here.
Dr. Hübbe-Schleiden's papers and books were deposited at the Library of Göttingen University.


Below you can read a short biography of him published in the Theosophist magazine:

« Dr. Hübbe-Schleiden, is one of those personalities whose helpful activities, coupled with high intellectual and spiritual attainments, have done so much to leaven some of the baneful influences of a materialistic age.

Wilhelm Hübbe (for the name of “Schleiden” was afterwards adopted, for reasons to be mentioned later on) was born into this earth-life at a period when the world indeed (and perhaps more especially the German world of Thought) was producing the very flower of its band of scientific Thinkers, when the cry for ‘truth’ was for a truth that could be seen with the material eye, felt with material hands, aye, conceived by those convolutions of grey matter making up a material brain; when, in short, no thing but what could be handled, pulled to pieces, weighed and analyzed, had any serious meaning or importance to the mind of the man of Science.

Wilhelm Hübbe-Schleiden was born in northern Germany, in the city of Hamburg, and not far from those districts already seething with political discontent, where two years later (he was born in 1846) the hot wave of Revolution swept over the population of many a German town, touching with its fire indeed some of the country's finest spirits.

But though Hamburg can claim him paternally, Dr. Hübbe-Schleiden's mother was associated with a more southern stock, and the City of Munich can cite the name of the well-known Botanist, Matthew Schleiden (Dr. Hübbe-Schleiden's uncle), as in the gallery of its celebrated men; it was his maternal name that Wilhelm Hübbe joined to his own when first entering the field of literature, a field wherein his efforts have since become so well known.

His childhood and early youth in the old Hansaic City would seem to have been particularly happy. Ho was the youngest of five sons (all of whom have attained to eminence), and his father, Dr. Hübbe, held a position of some prominence in the legal world, while his grand father was in high repute as a preacher of powerful and persuasive eloquence.

Home influences were of a fine and high standard, intellectuality being here tempered by a broad-minded religious feeling. In a soil so idealistically adapted to an ardent nature, small wonder if young Hübbe spiritually grew apace!

After completing his school curriculum at the excellent native Gymnasium, Willi Hübbe (as his old friends still affectionately style him) visited the far-famed Universities of Gottingen, Heidelberg, Munich and Leipzig, while preparing himself to take his degree as a Doctor of Law.

After a brief term of practice as an Attorney in his native town, he, however, accepted the offer of a post in connexion with the German Consulate General in London, subsequently entering one of the great London Banking Houses, in order to acquire a thorough knowledge of business routine.

We may perhaps say that with this coming to England commenced the second epoch in the life of Wilhelm Hübbe, his quick mastery of the language (he now, indeed, speaks English without 'accent' — and with a purity many a native might envy, having a fine sense for 'the right word' — a clear and incisive style), and his sympathy with the highest ideals of English national life enabling him to see eye to eye with the best of our race; and so it came that after a short period spent in Spain, he returned to England, embarking thence with a British friend on an expedition to the West Coast of Africa, where by their mutual efforts a business undertaking was founded at Gabon.

But business, pure and simple, was not to be the aim and object of such a life as Wilhelm Hübbe's. Alongside with those interests and activities incidental to commercial enterprise, there grew up in his mind those wider human interests which alone can form the sound basis of any Scheme of Colonization.

It was now that writings dealing with the Colonial Problem began to appear under the author ship of Dr. Hübbe-Schleiden, and in order to devote him self more whole-heartedly to what had come to be his paramount interest and enthusiasm, he returned to Europe, so journing once more in his native City of Hamburg, and devoting himself to the propaganda of German Colonization.

Those were early days!

His countrymen were as yet but lukewarm on the subject of overseas dominion, and yet it may be said that so far-seeing was this pioneer of a new movement that his books Ethiopia (written in 1878), and Oversea Politics (1880), still command respectful attention, and are indeed deemed classics in this particular branch of German literature.

By this time Dr. Hübbe-Schleiden's reputation had attracted sufficient notice for the Prussian Foreign Office, with a promptitude as praiseworthy as it is rare in the domain of 'Officialdom,' to turn their attention in the direction of their enterprising countryman. This Government Office had just founded its Colonial Branch, and Dr. Hübbe-Schleiden had the distinction of being summoned to Berlin and offered an appointment in this Department.

His karma was, however, to turn his abundant energy into other channels. It was in the summer of 1884 that that gifted writer (and translator into German of Light on the Path)

Herr von Hoffmann sent his friend Hübbe-Schleiden his recently published translation of Mr. A.P. Sinnett's Esoteric Buddhism.  Dr. Hübbe-Schleiden relates that the book arrived towards evening, and taking it up, he began to read, reading on and on all through that night, not laying it down till morning, when the last word had been absorbed and treasured.

Moreover, as will not seem strange to Theosophists, what was here presented to him for the ‘first time' did yet not bear the stamp of 'newness' to that mind ready for its reception, and it seemed indeed as though he had 'known it all before;' but it now gave him the clue to the Web of Life, with its tangles and its flaws ever and again obscuring the great Weaver's definite and pre-conceived design.

Before long Dr. Hübbe-Schleiden had placed himself in communication with Colonel Henry Steele Olcott, then in London, and ascertaining from that gentleman that Madame Blavatsky was then in Germany at Elberfeld with Frau Gebhard, one of her earliest German adherents, he, with characteristic promptitude, set out for that town in search of the Founder of the Movement.

It was here, then, that on the 27th of July, 1884, the first German Branch of the Theosophical Society, styled “Theosophische Societat Germania” was founded in the presence of H. P. Blavatsky, Mr. A. P. Sinnett, and other members then in Germany, having for its President Dr. Hübbe-Schleiden, and for its Acting Secretary Herr Franz Gebhard.

But though the Committee was complete, what the Societat Germania lacked most of all was members, and to meet this want Dr. Hübbe-Schleiden, accompanied by Colonel Olcott, set out on a journey of propaganda, in order to secure the sympathies of such as would be likely to prove themselves worthy adherents of the new movement. Here the memorable fact may be recorded that it was during these travels, and in the compartment of a railway carriage, that Dr. Hübbe-Schleiden received the now well-known letter from his Master.

Among the names of those who then joined the Society may be mentioned such well-known men as Dr. Carl du Prel, the artist, Gabriel Max, Herr von Hoffmann (before mentioned), Herr Direktor Sellin, as well as that gentleman's brother, and Herr Bernhard Hubo.

This promising branch was, however, fated to die an early death, its dissolution being brought about by the doubts and uncertainties engendered by the Coulomb affair. The members dispersed, Dr. Hübbe-Schleiden alone remaining in what had become but a nominal capacity.

It was about this time that he took up his residence in Munich, and with his independent work now commencing in the field of supersensual knowledge, the line of demarcation of the third epoch of his life may not unfitly be drawn.

It was in the Bavarian Capital, in the year 1886, that he issued his first number of the Sphinx, a high-class monthly magazine devoted to supersensual studies of the Universe, based upon lines laid down by Theosophy. This journal which, in addition to his other works of a Theosophic nature, attracted many of the best thinkers of the day, was published regularly for about ten and a half years, and only discontinued when its founder and editor visited India in order to recuperate his over-taxed strength.

Even then his energies did not rest, for the gist of all he saw, heard and experienced has been set down in his book India and the Indians, a work published in 1898, and one which, in no less a degree than his earlier books dealing with Africa, bears the imprint of a master-mind in all matters appertaining to the problem of Colonial Policy.

With the demise of the Sphinx and on his return to Europe, Dr. Hübbe-Schleiden may be said to have devoted himself even more exclusively than before to the study of Esoteric Philosophy, making, indeed, his life-work an elaborate treatise on Reincarnation, bringing, moreover, this much argued and, in some quarters, fiercely combated question into line with the theories held by present-day European Science, in so impartial, and yet so convincing a manner that his labors may be regarded as constituting as great again to orthodox scientific literature, as they most assuredly are for his fellow Theosophists.

M. G. »
(Theosophist, April 1911, p.115-119)


Main writings on political topics

  • “Ethiopia Studies on West Africa” [Ethiopien Studien Uber West-Afrika] (1879). 
  • “Oversea politics” [Uberseeische Politik 1881-1883] (1883). 
  • “Global economy and its driving force” [Weltwirtschaft und die sie treibende Kraft] (1882). 
  • "India and the Indians“ [Indien und die Indier: kulturell, wirthschaftlich und politisch betrachtet] (1898). This work set out all the author had experienced in his 1896 travels in India. Annie Besant wrote that it "bears the imprint of a master-mind in all matters appertaining to the problem of Colonial Policy." 
  • “England's end in the battle at Dorking” [Englands ende in der schlacht bei dorking].

Main writings on theosophical topics

  • His Theosophical activities took primarily a literary form, establishing a theosophical magazine called The Sphinx, witch was published regularly from 1886 to 1896 (see link). 
  • “The existence as pleasure, suffering and love [Das Dasein als Lust, Leid Und Liebe] (1891). 
  • “Searching the Master. Conversation of a church Christian and a mystic” [Das Suchen des Meisters. Gespräch eines Kirchenchristen und eines Mystikers] (1916). 
  • “Was Jesus a Buddhist?”  A pamphlet in which from an argument elaborated in a methodical and precise way, he concludes that Jesus’ philosophy was essentially Buddhist. 
  • “Palingenesis and Reincarnation.”  A work of considerable size in which he tried to scientifically prove the law of reincarnation. However, he died before completing it. This work was donated to the University of Göttingen, and was probably lost during the Second World War.

In addition to his work in the German-language, Dr. Hübbe-Schleiden wrote many articles in English for several theosophical magazines, and the Union Index of Theosophical Periodicals lists 31 (see link).


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