Now, at the age of 79, Pestalozzi retired to the Neuhof for good. His grandson, Gottlieb, had been working the farm for a number of years. Pestalozzi still stuck to his idea of running a home for poor children, where they would also be able to work and get an education. Together with Gottlieb, he started out to construct a new building for this purpose. In the middle of winter, the eighty year old man hauled rocks to the place, but he did not survive to see the completion of the building.
Pestalozzi’s life often took a sad course. It also ended sadly. Johannes Niederer could not get over his blind hatred for Pestalozzi. He instigated a young German teacher, named Eduard Biber, to write a book in which he called Pestalozzi a hypocrite and a criminal. “Pestalozzi’s books and his institute are a load of trash,” he said. The book was published in January 1827.
On the 12th of January, 1827 Pestalozzi celebrated his 81st birthday. He was still in the best of health. Shortly afterwards Biber’s book fell into his hands. It offended him so much that he fell seriously ill. He wanted to defend himself against the lies that Biber spread, but he was no longer able to do so. Passing his pen over the paper to write, he did not realise that there was no ink left in it.
Three weeks after he had read Biber’s book, Heinrich Pestalozzi died; it was the 17th February 1827. In his last hours he wrote, “I am on my deathbed. I would have loved to live a few more months, but God has decided otherwise, and I reconcile myself to his will. May the peace which I am entering also lead my enemies to peace. Be it as it may, I forgive them. I bless my friends and hope that they will remember me with love and will further the ideas of my life to the best of their abilities.”
Pestalozzi’s last wishes did not remain a fantasy; Eduard Biber kept busy studying Pestalozzi’s life and achievements. He converted from being an enemy into being a great admirer of Pestalozzi. He devoted his whole life to Pestalozzi’s ideas and tried to establish them in the schools.
Two days after his death, Pestalozzi was buried near the school in Birr. This is what he had wished for. In spite of the enormous quantity of snow, a great number of adults and schoolchildren from the neighbouring villages followed the coffin. Teachers carried it, and at his grave they thanked him with a song. According to his wish a white rosebush was planted on his grave. In 1846, to celebrate the 100th year since his birth, the Canton of Aargau placed a monument on Pestalozzi’s grave. In golden letters the main tasks of, and places in, Pestalozzi’s life are chiselled into the gravestone:
Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi:
Saviour of the Poor on the Neuhof.
Preacher to the People in Leonard and Gertrude
In Stans, Father of the orphan,
In Burgdorf and Münchenbuchsee,
Founder of the New Primary Education.
In Yverdon, Educator of Humanity.
He was an individual, a Christian and a citizen.
He did everything for others, nothing for himself!
Bless his name!
The following pages are based on documents by Adolf Haller and Arthur Brühlmeier, rewritten in German by Heinrich Rubi and transalated in English by Anne-Marie Widmer. The content was arranged and edited by Dr Joanna Nair with examples of Pestalozzi's Fables from 'Pestalozzi, His Life and Work' by Roger de Guimps.
These pages have been produced by Pestalozzi World Children's Trust to further the understanding of the Pestalozzi Legacy and are for non-commercial, educational purposes.
All photographs have been provided by Arthur Brühlmeier and the details and other excellent resources are available from his web site at