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8th World Vegetarian Congress 1932

Berlin/Hamburg, Germany

The following report and pictures are from the Vegetarian Messenger (VSUK magazine) August 1932:


That Germany should have been the venue of the Eighth International Vegetarian Congress recalls to us the fact that the first Congress was held in Dresden in 1908. The Diamond Jubilee of The Vegetarian Society (Gt. Britain) was celebrated by an international gathering in Manchester in October, 1907, and it was at this meeting that, following the lead of Dr. Georges Danjou (Nice), the Congress at Dresden was convened in the following year. The attendance was not a large one, but it was unanimously agreed to form an "International Vegetarian Union" and Dr. Selss (Baden-Baden), Dr. Meyross (Rotterdam) and Mr. Albert Broadbent (Manchester) were appointed to act as a Committee.

Looking back at the events of this first Congress, our German friends will be particularly interested in the remarks of Dr. Selss, the chairman, at the final meeting. He said "The German vegetarians would remember with pride that a Union, having for its object the uniting of vegetarians of all countries, had been founded in Germany." And 24 years later in that same country, when but a few of those present at the Eighth Congress would be aware of the remarks of Dr. Selss, there could not have been portrayed a greater indication of pride and pleasure at the opportunity afforded to the German vegetarians of entertaining their friends from other countries.

Following the inaugural meeting in Dresden (1908), congresses have been held in Manchester (1909), Brussels (1910), The Hague (1913), Stockholm (1923), London (1926), and Steinschönau (1929). The Congress under review opened on the 9th of July, 1932, when Berlin saw a continuous stream of delegates and friends assembling in the Nordischer Hof Hotel to receive greetings and an official welcome from the chairman of the Berlin Vegetarian Society, Mr. Bernhard Rieger, and the President and Secretary of the I.V.U., Mr. Cari Gumprecht and Mr. H. E. Feix.

At this gathering, delegates from different countries briefly acknowledged the welcome received and, as might be expected in a country renowned throughout the world for its musical taste and talent, a delightful programme of music was a feature of the evening. The delegates from The Vegetarian Society (Gt. Britain) were Councillor W. M. Farrington and Mr. H. H. Jones.

Eden near Berlin, was the headquarters of the Congress for the next few days. Leaving Berlin at 10-30 p.m., a forty minutes' railway journey brought us to Oranienburg where, immediately outside the station, we were greeted with flags of all colours and where a large banner in the middle of the street announced the holding of the International Vegetarian Congress in Eden. A further two miles by motor bus concluded our journey from Berlin. Outside the official quarters of the Congress, as the guests alighted shortly before midnight, the flam-ing torches which lit up the dark sky, the song of welcome which rang through the stillness of the night and the very genuine cordi-ality with which we were received will linger long in the memory of those whose good fortune it was to be present.

Everything possible was done to cater for the comfort and enjoyment of the visitors. The morning gymnastics, under expert guidance, was a very popular feature. Meals were served in a large marquee, specially erected for the purpose, as well as in the Concert Hall. Fresh fruit, grown on the Eden Colony, salad, and cooked dishes were well prepared and varied in character. An enquiry elicited the fact that the butter used was of vegetable origin and was manufactured in Eden. Another product which was much in evidence was the special unfermented apple juice, also made in Eden and well-known throughout Germany. In a subsequent issue we hope to give an account of the Eden Colony with particular reference to vegetarianism.

The official opening of the proceedings took place at 10 a.m. on Sunday, when short speeches were delivered by the President, Mr. C. Gumprecht, Mr. Karl Bartes (the local Congress Secretary) and others. On this occasion we were honoured with a civic welcome from the corporation officials of Oranienburg. Music rendered by the Eden Musical Society and Choir, was interspersed with the speeches.

In the afternoon several hundred friends foregathered in the open air theatre to witness a performance of "Apollonius von Tyana," a play in six acts, by Karl Bartes, after which there was a variety of entertainment in the nature of folk-dancing, puppet shows, folk plays and a delightful exhibition of rhythmic gymnastics. The programme after supper consisted of the production of a comic operetta and a dance.

Professor Johannes Ude (Austria)

Monday morning at 9 o'clock witnessed a huge gathering in the open to hear addresses by Professor Johannes Ude, of Graz, and Mr. Valentin Bulgakov (late Secretary to Leo Tolstoy). Before the addresses were delivered, short speeches were made by the chairmen for the morning session - Messrs. J. L. Saxon (Stockholm), Frank Wyatt (London), and Moritz Schnitzer (Warnsdorf). Dr. Ude then spoke with the eloquence and charm which is the prerogative of the true orator.

He had a message to proclaim and this he delivered in a clear and decisive tone. His subject was "VEGETARIANISM AS A SAVING FACTOR IN THE APPROACHING WORLD CHAOS." Dr. Ude said that the universe was governed by certain laws, which, in order to achieve perfection, must be rigidly followed. The individual, he said, was free to accept these principles or reject them and it was because nations had ignored them that the world to-day was suffering from the effects of warfare and economic and political chaos. Professor Ude then indicated some of the laws to which he had just referred.
(1) Man's original food consisted of herbs arid fruits-not the flesh of animals-and in so far as we had departed from that type of diet so our troubles increased. (2) The world was given for the use of man, irrespective of creed or colour. (3) Every human being had a right to the land and to everything necessary for his proper development. (4) Through work the human being received his reward. (5) Everyone had a duty, and therefore, a right to work. (6) Only useful commodities should be produced. The production of luxuries tended to make necessities more expensive.

Dr. Ude dwelt at some length upon the tremendous waste involved in the production of flesh foods when contrasted with vegetable foods. Flesh food, he said, was approximately five times as expensive as vegetable foods, due, chiefly to the length of time required to produce it. At the present time the whole of Europe could only feed 452 million people, whereas, without the use of animals as food, 1,704 million people could be supported. Every country, he said, would gain enormously if it adopted a veget-arian dietary-and it would also make for peace and a better under-standing among the nations.

Before the next address was delivered a pleasant little ceremony took place when Mr. Cäsar Rhan, the President of the German Anti-Vivisection Society, presented Professor Ude with a bronze medal (pending the completion of one in gold) as a mark of respect and an appreciation of his work on behalf of the lower animals.

It is of interest to record the fact that during the period of the Congress, Professor Ude gave a broadcast talk from Berlin.

The chairman next called upon Mr. VALENTIN BULGAKOV (Prague) to give his address on "TOLSTOY AND VEGETARIANISM AND THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE DUKHOBORS." He said that four years had passed since the 100th anniversary of the birth of Tolstoy - a man who held an honoured place among the greatest men of all ages. Many world representatives of literature and art were vegetarians, and for the last 23 years of his life Tolstoy devoted himself to the propagating, through his writings, of humanitarian ideals. In the propagation of vegetarian ideals Tolstoy had been a great power, and his teaching had borne fruit over a very wide area, not only in Russia, but in other countries, e.g., Bulgaria. With Tolstoy, vegetarianism was primarily an ethical principle, although its other aspects were well-known to him. To a man who accepted the idea that life of all kinds was sacred, he had no alternative in following the course he did. Tolstoy held that killing-whether it be animal or human life-was one of the greatest sins. The law, ''Thou shalt not kill," was written in the hearts of men long before it was written by Moses, on Mount Sinai. It was impossible to lead a full life and attain moral perfection unless we took what Tolstoy regarded as "The First Step" and refrained from the use of animals for food. We could not reach the highest unless we took this "first step." Tolstoy's vivid description of the slaughter of animals, in Tula, made a big impression on the Russian people and was responsible for many converts to the Cause. Mr. Bulgakov dealt with many interesting and controversial problems related to vegetarianism and the killing of animals, such as the use of dairy products, the use of animals by man, the destruction of insect pests. etc., and concluded by referring to vegetarian colonies which had been formed at various periods throughout Russia. Most of these, including the Moscow Vegetarian Society (the chief centre of vegetarian activity in Russia), he said, had been dissolved under the Soviet regime. The only surviving colony was that of the Dukhohors, now represented in the three provinces of Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia. They left Russia, for Canada, in the year 1898, Tolstoy helping them to obtain the necessary money to emigrate. From 7,900 their numbers had grown to 15,000, and with very few exceptions they were all vegetarians.

Werner Zimmermann (Switzerland)

After lunch, the delegates and friends again assembled, under blazing sun, to hear Mr. WERNER ZIMMERMANN (Switzerland) speak on ''VEGETARIANISM AND WORLD REFORM - PARTICULARLY IN RELATION TO CHINA, JAPAN, INDIA AND THE AMERICAS." The chairmen at this session were Councillor W. M. Farrington (Balten, ingland). Mr. Georg Förster (Dresden), and Mr. C. J. van Borrendam (Amsterdam), each of whom addressed the delegates prior to the delivery, by Mr. Zimmermann, of his lecture.

In his opening remarks, Mr. Zimmermann said that he considered vegetarianism one part of a great ideal - the expression of true self in life. It did not matter, said the speaker, what labels we put on ourselves, what beliefs we cherished, hut how we lived. The important factor in life was to live up to our ideals and to have the courage to change our convictions whenever we could replace them by something better. The body, he said, was the instrument of the spirit, or mind, and therefore it was our duty to keep that vehicle in the healthiest possible state, hence the para-mount necessity for vegetarianism and other factors which would assist in the building up of a healthy body. The law of non-violence, he said, was the most important law of life, and in the working out of this law the more we condemned people for their wrong habits, the more we would be likely to send them away from the ideal. We should not seek to conquer our enemies but rather to make them our friends - that is a truer victory. He referred to his experiences in China, Japan, India, and the Americas, the extent to which vegetarianism thrived, and the bad influence of western civilization on the peoples of those countries. In the high-lands of Guatemala there were the remains of a population which had lived as long as history could record, as vegetarians. They had no cattle, they pursued artistic .... are a strong and healthy people, living as natural a life as is possible.

He related many incidents and experiences, most of which indicated that the more we seek to apply artificial laws and restrictions the more we retard true development.

A discussion on the three principal addresses of the day followed, and Mr. Borrendam is to be congratulated upon the masterly manner in which, as chairman of so large and cosmopolitan gathering, he directed the course of events, under difficult circumstances, to so satisfactory a conclusion.

At 8 o'clock in the evening the Concert Hall was again crowded this time to hear the enthusiastic and energetic local Congress Secretary, Mr. Karl Bartes, give a lantern lecture on ''The History and Development of the Eden Colony."

C.J. van Borrendam (Amsterdam) I.V.U. President

Hans E. Feix (Warnsdorf) General Secretary, I.V.U.

The whole of Tuesday, from 10'clock in the morning until 6-30 p.m., was devoted to the business of the International Vegetarian Union. The General Secretary, Mr. Hans E. Feix (Warnsdorf) reported upon the work of the Union during the last three years, and the Treasurer, Mr. Oluf Egerod (Copenhagen) gave a detailed account of the financial position. Proposals were put forward respecting: (1) the number of delegates each Society was entitled to send (2) a new basis for computing the financial liability of the Societies forming the Union (3) a badge for the use of all members of constituent societies. It was agreed, purely on the ground of expense, to discontinue the publication of Vegetarano and to issue in its place a duplicated news sheet from time to time. At this juncture the members present expressed their grateful thanks to Mr. Oscar Bunemann for his work as Editor of the magazine.

A proposal from Holland resulted in the formation of a small international committee which would meet whenever there was important business to transact. The appointed committee con-sisted of the new President, Mr. C. J. van Borrendam (Amsterdam), the Treasurer, Mr. Oluf Egerod (Copenhagen), the General Secre-tary, Mr. Hans E. Feix (Warnsdorf), together with Mr. K. Bartes (Eden-Berlin) and Mr. Frank Wyatt (London).

It was agreed to form a number of Commissions with the object of propagating vegetarian ideals by means of the press, radio and film, and for dealing with other matters in which vegetarians generally are interested. These committees were left to the newly-appointed general council to arrange.

Reports on the work of the movement in different countries were read by delegates from the various countries represented at the Congress.

Resolutions were passed (1) to be sent to the Disarmament Conference deprecating the continued preparations for war; and (2) to be transmitted to the responsible …. protesting against the continued interdict ….

It was decided to hold the next Congress at Zurich in 1935.

The day closed with an excellent performance from "Faust," under the able direction of Anna Rubner.

On Wednesday, we partook of breakfast at 6-30 a.m., and at 7 o'clock about 200 members of Congress left Eden by motor bus for Mahlow, where a visit was paid to the Priessnitz Nature Cure Hospital, the first of its kind in Germany. The founder, Mr. Paul Schirrineister, extended a welcome to all present and referred to many matters of interest concerning the hospital. The resident physician, Dr. Alfred Brauchie also spoke prior to an inspection of the premises which, apart from their ideal situation (surrounded by pine trees) possess an atmosphere which in every way is conducive to a pleasant and speedy recovery - a marked contrast to what is found in many hospitals and similar institutions conducted on orthodox lines.

From Mahlow we journeyed to Potsdam, where a pleasant afternoon was spent, chiefly in the vicinity of the Sans Souci Park and Palace (famous as the residence for 40 years of Frederick the Great) and on the banks of the Havel, where swimming was in-dulged in and where refreshments, brought from Eden, contributed to a delightful excursion spent amidst charming scenery on the outskirts of Berlin.

The evening in Eden was devoted to a unique puppet enter-tainment by means of which many of the outstanding features and incidents of the Congress were narrated with a subtle humour which evoked continuous laughter throughout the performance. Dancing followed and concluded a programme of four days' work and play, well organized, well carried through, and such as must have brought ample satisfaction to Karl Bartes and his loyal and unselfish com-pany of workers in Eden.

At Hamburg.

In order to give the members of the Hamburg Vegetarian Society an opportunity of meeting the foreign delegates the concluding meetings and excursions were arranged in that city on the Thursday, Friday and Saturday. On Thursday evening, in the large hall of the Coventgarten, we met many new friends who had assembled to hear an address from Professor Ude on "Vegetarianism and the present economic chaos." Professor Ude dealt with many of the points raised in his lecture at Eden. He emphasized the tremendous waste resulting from the consumption of alcohol and tobacco (7 million marks yearly in Germany) and the vast sums spent on armaments. As before, he spoke for a considerable time on the economic argument for vegetarianism and the great waste resulting from the production of flesh foods. His final message was that the economics of any lasting system must of necessity be based on humane and righteous principles.

Friday was devoted largely to affording delegates an opportu-nity of viewing the city, docks and harbour, and included an in-spection of the South American liner "Monte Sarmiento." Notable among the objects of interest were the examples of modern business architecture; the Elbe tunnel, consisting of two passages 1,476 feet long, enabling vehicles and pedestrians to pass from one side of the river to the other ; and the Aister, a stretch of water in the centre of the city which, with the willow trees on its banks, gives to Hamburg that picturesqueness which unfortunately is so rare in most of our commercial and industrial cities.

Our evening meeting took place at the Restaurant Shilberg, Blankenese, some five miles from Hamburg, beautifully situated on elevated ground overlooking the Elbe. Here dinner was served, followed by further speeches, music and dancing. Those delegates who remained in Hamburg over Friday night paid a visit on Saturday morning to Hagenbeck's Zoological Park. Thus came to an end a Congress whose activities meant work as well as pleasure, which resulted in broadcasting the vegetarian ideal througout the North of Germany, as well as stimulating the converted by an exchange of views, and which once again emphasized the fact that vegetarianism has a much wider significance than the mere abstention from flesh foods as a mode of life. Those who were privileged to attend the Congress could not fail to be impressed with the evidence in support of the principle, so often expounded and developed at our meetings, of the unity of all reforms. It is particularly desirable that vegetarians should be cognizant of the fact that vegetarianism is a fundamental reform. And so, in meeting together under such ideal surroundings, we could not fail to be impressed with the feeling that our great movement was making its contribution to world problems in that it stood for a more humane method of living, a more considerate treatment of animals, a more economical use of the source of all wealth, namely -land, and the breaking down of those artificial barriers which for centuries have kept the peoples of different nations apart. And what greater ideals could we live for?

1) The Eden Colony ; 2)Werner Zimmermann delivering his address ; 3) Valentin Bulgakov addressing the delegates ; 4) A corner of Monday's huge audience ; 5) Assembling for the opening meeting on Sunday ; 6) Delegates being conveyed around the docks at Hamburg ; 7) Blankenese, where the final meeting of the Congress was held ; 8) Morning Gymnastics at Eden