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8th World Vegetarian Congress 1932

Berlin/Hamburg, Germany

The following report and pictures are from the The Vegetarian News (London) August 1932:


Since the last issue of The Vegetarian News went to press the Eighth International Vegetarian Congress, held this time in Germany, has come and gone, and whilst it is inevitable that readers should be asked to wait for a later issue before anything like an extended account of the principal speeches can be presented, it is at least due to them, and not less to our own feelings, that some first impressions should forthwith be recorded.

And what a wealth of impressions these are, to be sure! Is the Englishman, first of all, a dull fellow, that he does not usually choose to wear his heart upon his sleeve? Happily, there is no need to come to any such mournful conclusion. At heart, he can be just as cordial as the rest of the world, and just as hospitable. But, coming back to England after days spent amidst such obvious and continual outflow of goodwill, that proverbial "reserve" of his must needs appear a truly formidable thing, for all that. Suffice it here to say that the hospitality meted out to the English delegates in Germany was of a depth, as also of a kind, which, for its depth and also for its quality, must needs have first of all been experienced in order that it might be fully appreciated. But since, by those thus privileged actually to share in it, the experience in question was one that was vicariously enjoyed - for who is there among the large company of English vegetarians that would not have most gladly shared in it if he could? - by them also must the approriate feelings of gratitude in like measure be recorded.

The actual venue of this year's International Vegetarian Congress was at Eden, the garden village of about nine hundred inhabitants adjacent to the small town of Oranienburg, which geographically, is in about the same relation to Berlin as Welwyn Garden City is to London. Arrived in Germany on Saturday, July 9th, the first of many welcomes offered to the delegates was in Berlin, where at the Nordischer Hof Hotel, a reception organised by the Berlin Vegetarian Society was attended by about four hundred people, the guests being received by the President of the Congress, Mr. Carl Gumprecht. Twelve nations in all were represented at the Congress, the number of visitors from outside Germany being about two hundred. The first reception with some music and much speech-making (in which several of the foreign representatives took part) being over, a move was made the same evening by rail and coach to Oranienburg and thence to Eden itself, a place by no means inaptly called since, though forty years ago a sandy waste, it is now a fruitful and thriving colony where life under what is, perhaps, the nearest approach to ideal conditions in the present day has been made possible. The scene, on the party's arrival there at about midnight on July 9th, was one long to be remembered, both young men and maidens of the village being assembled with torches at the entrance to the main building (afterwards to be used as a Congress hall) and singing their hymn of welcome, and it was not long thereafter before each one of the visiting delegates found himself safely escorted by one or other of the torch-bearers to his own particular place of about during the next few days.

Top: Herr Moritz Schnitzer, Czech-Slovakia (one of the three Chairmen at the opening session of the Congress), is speaking. Below: Herr Werner Zimmermann is seen delivering his address.

Most of the various engagements of the Congress were held, as each separate occasion might seem to suggest, either in the congress hall above mentioned, or else in a large open-air amphitheatre, a stage after the Greek pattern having been erected in a delightful glade, thus enabling those who willed to take what was literally a sun-and air-bath and also listen to the principal speeches at the same time. Incidentally, it would be interesting, were it possible, to calculate precisely to what extent healthful storage of vitamin D was thereby acheived! And not less healthful, perhaps, to the same end were the physical exercises, likewise conducted in the open air, with which the more energetic were wont to commence the day, notwithstanding the frequent menace of late hours the night before. Sunday morning, July 10th, was the occasion of an official welcome - phrased successively in German, French and English - given to the Congress by the Burgomaster of Oranienburg, several of the foreign delegates as well as official representatives, being once more invited to respond. Yet more memorable, however, was the impressive reading, by the Secretary of the International Vegetarian Union, Mr. Hans Feix, of the list of names of distinguished vegetarians - those of Dr. Walter Walsh and Mr. Howard Williams, unhappily, being among them - whom the hand of death had claimed since the holding of the last Congress at Steinschönau three years before. The silent and upstanding tribute of respect thus paid by the representatives of many nations to the valiant upholders of a great principle was one of the most impressive moments througout the whole period of the Congress. On the same day, mid-day dinner meantime having been served to more than six hundred people ( a large marquee as well as the congress hall itself being put into commission for the occasion), in the improvised amphitheatre before mentioned there was a performance of a play, "Apollonius of Tyana," written by Mr. Karl Bartes (photo right), the Secretary of this year's Congress, in which German amateur artistry and thoroughness of production were alike exemplified. The day concluded with two performances - this within doors but the rendering once again being by an amateur cast - of a "comedy" (or , as we, should more probably term it in this country, a "light opera"), with dancing thereafter until about midnight.

Professor Johannes Ude

Herr Zimmermann

The next day, July 11th, provided, in two sessions and once more in the open-air, a veritable feast of oratory, Professor Johannes Ude (Graz), Mr. Valentin Bulgarov (Prague) and Mr. Werner Zimmermann (Berne) each holding the attention of the audience in turn, and for a long spell, the very hottest of July suns notwithstanding. The subjects dealt with, respectively were "Vegetarianism as a Saving Factor in the Approaching World Chaos," "Tolstoy and Vegetarianism, and the significance of the Dukhobors," and "Vegetarianism and World Reform, with special reference to China, Japan and India and the Americas." Apart from the fine oratory referred to, there were also short speeches by representative delegates, these including Mr. Georg Forster (Dresden), Mr. Moritz Schnitzer (Warnsdorf), Mr. C. J. van Borrendam (Amsterdam), Mr. J. L. Saxon (Stockholm), Mr. W. M. Farrington (Manchester) and Mr. Frank Wyatt (London), Mr. Oluf Egerod (Copenhagen) doing yeoman service as always, where necessary, as interpreter. After a day thus spent in the open air, evening found the delegates once more assembled in the congress hall, for the purpose of listening to a lantern lecture by Mr. Karl Bartes (who holds a highly responsible position in the Eden organisation) on the rise and development of the settlement from its first beginnings nearly forty years ago. Its present population is about one-fourth vegetarian, and among its special products is a vegetable "butter" and a particular brand of unfermented apple-juice, the latter, if not also the former, being well known throughout Germany. The lecturer, Mr. Karl Bartes, whose protrait is is reproduced herewith (above), was one of the most forceful and representative figures at the Congress his versatility being yet further displayed by the following evening by a rmearkably successful adaptation of some scenes from Goethe's "Faust," this performance, like the preceeding ones, being once again rendered by amateurs.

The weather in Germany was hot whilst the Eighth Triennial International Vegetarian Congress was in progress, and the general physical fitness of the many hundreds who attended was, perhaps, in no way better exemplified than by the fact that many of these elected to sit for hours at the open-air sessions of the Congress listening to the oratory of one or another of the principal speakers - Professor Johannes Ude (who holds deoctorates in theology, philosophy and economics, and is Professor of Theology at Graz University, Austria), Herr Werner Zimmermann, of Berne, Switzerland, (author, traveller and apostle of non-resistance, who is likewise much sought after - if not, indeed, actually idolised - by the more progressive section of the youth of Central Europe), and Herr Valentin Bulgakov, of Prague, Czecho-Slovakia (private secretary to the late Count Leo Tolstoy, with whom he is actually seen at work in a picture reproduced on the last page of the present supplement [above]).

Morning and afternoon sessions of the Congress, so far as delegates were concerned, on Thursday (July 12th) were entirely given over to the business of the International Vegetarian Union, under whose auspices the Congress was being held. In the course of the proceedings were reports given by representative delegates in turn relating to the position in their respective countries and an Executive Committee, to serve until the next meeting of the Congress at Zurich in 1935, was also elected, as follows : Mr. C. J. van Borrendam (Holland), Mr. Oluf Egerod (Denmark), Mr. Hans Feix (Czech-Slovakia), Mr. Karl Bartes (Germany), and Mr. Frank Wyatt (Great Britain), the first three of these likewise holding office as President, Treasurer and Secretary, respectively. The day closed with an excellent rendering by amateurs of some scenes from Goethe's "Faust".

By contrast, the next day was given up to sight-seeing and relaxation, a party, numbering in all about two hundred, after a very early breakfast, journeying by motor-coach to Potsdam after a halt at Mahlow en route for the purpose of visiting the Priessnitz Nature Cure Hospital, a portion of which is illustrated in an accompanying photograph. Here they were greeted by the founder, Mr. Paul Schirrmeister, and by the resident physician, Dr. Alfred Brauchle, the addresses being delivered beneath the trees in the delightful grounds surrounding the hospital; after which there was a visit to the hospital itself, the journey being thereafter continued to Potsdam itself, where lunch was taken, the afternoon being spent in strolling through the famous palace and grounds of Sans Souci. Afterwards the return was made to Eden direct, where in the evening, a kind of Punch and Judy show had been arranged, in which many of the personalities and happenings of the Congress were most amusingly and effectively satirised.

The proceedings of the Congress being this brought to a close, the delegates departed for home next morning, many of them, including the five English delegates - Mrs. S. Keevill Turner, Miss Constance Hurren, Mr. W. M. Farrington, Mr. H. H. Jones and Mr. Frank Wyatt - travelling via Hamburg, where a halt of a day and a half was made so that opportunity might be given for accepting the hospitality of the vegetarians of that city at a farewell banquet held the following evening, as well as of listening once more to an address by Professor Ude, whose final and most forceful plea was that a true economic system could only be that in which humanity and righteousness might be able to walk hand-in-hand. The banquet itself, held at the Restaurant Süllberg, situated on a delightful hill-top at Blankenese, about five miles from Hamburg and overlooking a glorious stretch of the River Elbe, was a memorable occasion, never to be forgotten by those who took part. From thence departure was made by London delegates direct to the railway station, and the experiences of the evening will thus remain as a final impression of what all who attended must surely have felt to be a most successful Congress.

From the September 1932 issue of The Vegetarian News (London):

Supplementary to those we were able to publish last month, our phtographs on this page are of four of the outstanding figures at this year's Congress in Germany, under the auspices of the International Vegetarian Union, as follows:
Mr. C. J. van Borrendam (Holland), the newly elected President of the I.V.U ;
Mr. J. L. Saxon (Sweden), one of the Past-Presidents ;
Mr. H. E. Feix (Czech-Slovakia), Hon. Secretary ;
Mr. O. Egerod (Denmark), Hon Treasurer.