International Vegetarian Union (IVU)
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5th World Vegetarian Congress 1923

Stockholm, Sweden

The following report is from The Vegetarian News (London), June 1923:


"So this is Berlin!" At 8.30 p.m. on the eleventh of May we left Liverpool Street by the Harwich train, after bidding adieu to several friends, including Mr. Percy Hurst, and the veteran editor of the Food Reformers' Year Book, Mr. John L. Emary. From half-past ten to 5.30 on the following morning we were tossing about between Harwich and the Hook in what Mr. W. S. Gilbert described as "something between a large bathing machine and a very small second-class carriage.'' A three-berth cabin would not be so had if all its occupants did not want to get up and dress at the same time. My cabin was shared by
my excellent friend Dr. Ibarra, of Madrid, and an unknown gentleman who smoked strong Havanas. Two others of our party, Mr. W. A. Sibly and Mr. H. B. Amos, shared another cabin in the vicinity.

At 5.30 a.m. on the 12th we stood on deck, waiting to land at the Hook of Holland, where passports, visas, and luggage were examined by the Dutch customs officials. We got an early breakfast on the train, and at Bentheim were sublected to a similar inquisition by the German officials, every possible formality being imposed, including a statement as to the sum of money we each of us had in our possession - a badly organised, weariiorne, and dilatory business. To make matters worse, the carriage we were ensconced in was shortly afterwards unswitched, and we were unceremoniously bundled into the fore-portion of the crowded train, and had to stand in the corridor. The connecting train from Cologne was very late, and a delay of nearly an hour took place at Löhne whilst waiting for it. This we were told was brought about owing to the French occupation of the Ruhr. About four o'clock we solaced ourselves with tea in the restaurant car, and, after a rather slow journey, we reached the Fried richstrasse station much behind the scheduled time.

The train was crowded, and there was a general air of cheerfulness in spite of the fact that three-halfpence will purchase one thousand German marks. With bread, zweibach, biscuits and fruit in our bags, and butter and cheese to be obtained in the restaurant car, the problem of food en route was comparatively simple. And here we are, at last, in Berlin - Headmaster W. A. Sibly, a life-vegetarian; Dr. Ibarra, a nature-cure enthusiast who contemplates opening a sanitorium at Alicante (where grapes come from); H. B. Amos, representing the Vegetarian Cycling and Athletic Club; and myself. Dr. Ibarra does not speak much English, and resentful Germans scowl when he breaks out in French, in spite of his amiable exterior. He is a splendid advertisement for our cause, and an ideal physician, light-hearted, sympathetic, filled with optmism, robust and debonair. It is difficult to observe any signs in Berlin that the Germans are doing badly. They are neatly dressed, well nourished and active. The cafés and restaurants are well patronised, many of the men are smoking large cigars at a value in English money of a penny each, and in place of queues outside the labour exchange, as in England, people are to be seen waiting to enter the theatres and places of entertainment. In the matter of diet they are getting into their bad old ways again. The number of animals slaughtered for consumption has increased by an average of 50 per cent. in the case of large cattle and 150 to 200 per cent. in that of pigs and sheep. The population is consuming more meat than ever.

An outcry has been raised as to a shortage of milk, but mortality amongst infants is lower than it has ever been, having fallen from 19.6 per 1,000 in 1904, to 15 in 1913, and 13 in 1920. The general mortality is diminishing, and the excess of births over deaths is increasing. In 1919 the excess was 282,120, and in 1921 it had risen to 686,655. The Communist movement appears to he going strong here, the Liest-Garden (a combination of Hyde Park and Trafalgar Square) being filled each Sunday morning with thousands of the poorer classes, men, women and children, who march in military order to the strains of "Rothe Fahne" or the "Red Flag." Speeches denouncing the bourgeoisie and the Fascisti are made from the steps of the Cathedral, and the unfurling of the garish Soviet banner is the signal for unrestrained enthusiasm. The Vegetarian Restaurant in the Friedrichstrasse is not attractive as far as the entrance is concerned, and the appointments are somewhat spartan in character; but the cooking is excellent and the low prices of the dishes would be a surprise to Londoners. But Berlin is not without its pitfalls for the non-German-speaking vegetarian. Two of our party ordered a salad yclept "Kopfsalat." anticipating that it would at least be some sort of "green meat." It took some time to prepare, and when at last it was placed on the table - the waiter all the while expatiating upon its good qualities - it was found to be a sort of mayonnaise of shrimps. The proprietor was called for and, our predudices being tactfully explained, the offending dish was taken back to the place from whence it came.

From Berlin our party journeyed to Copenhageb, where an enthuciastic greeting from Herr Egerod, the President of the Danish Vegetarian Society, awaited us at the station. The cordiality was such that there was a veritable "home from home" atmosphere which was maintained right through Scandinavia.

CHARLES W. FORWARD (To be continued.)

[Unfortunately it never was continued and this is all we have from the London Vegetarian Society. In 1947, 23 years after the above was written, Mr. W. A. Sibly became the President of IVU, with Mr. Oluf Egerod as General Secretary.]