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10th World Vegetarian Congress 1938

Hurdals Verk, Norway

From The Vegetarian News (London), August 1938:


NORWAY! The name conjures up at once the memory pictures of gigantic mountains; illimitable forests of fir, spruce and birch; glaciers from whose virgin breasts the rushing rivers of the "land of the midnight sun" are fed;' a thousand smiling lakes and tarns; deep fjords stretching inland from the cliff-bound, island-skirted coast, and flanked by precipitous mountain sides over whose shelf-like ledges torrents fall hundreds of feet below into rocky cauldrons hidden by clouds of spray. In such a setting of matchless beauty were the vegetarians of the world invited to the Tenth Triennial Congress of the International Vegetarian Union in Norway from July 11th-l7th.

Although the total area of the country is 125,000 square miles, the population numbers only approximately 2,800,000. Norway, therefore, is the most thinly-populated country of Europe. The vast majority of the population dwell by the coast and fjords. Oslo, the capital, has a population of 258,480, Bergen 91,443 and Trondhjem 55,030. Everywhere the visitor will find ample evidence of a strongly individual national character - which finds expression in fervent patriotism, and conservatism in regard to ancient rites and practices. As delegates and visitors alike to the Congress are well able to testify, no hosts could have been more kind or hospitable than our Norwegian friends - and especially Dr. H. J. Rögler and Fru Rögler by whom everything possible was done for our comfort and enjoyment.

Apart from Mr. H. H. Jones - Assistant Secretary of The Vegetarian Society - who, as delegate to the Congress, had travelled separately, together with Mrs. Jones, the contingent from Great Britain consisted of his co-delegate, Mr. Dugald Semple (who joined the party at Newcastle), Mrs. and Miss Oborn, Mr. and Mrs. Austin T Young, Mrs. Frank Wyatt and the writer himself - co-delegate with Mrs. Wyatt, from the London Vegetarian Society. The voyage by made by m.v. "Venus," the party of seven arriving at Bergen about 4.30 p.m. on Friday, July 8th. Here we were met on behalf of our hosts by Herr Egil Tresselt, a young Norwegian journalist who although himself not a vegetarian, afforded the visitors to his country every assistance and courtesy.

On the following morning the party entrained for Oslo - a dignified and imposing city - where delegates and visitors received a very warm welcome from Dr. and Fru Rögler and friends. Thereafter each one was conducted to his or her hotel. Of the overwhelming beauty and grandeur of the twelve hours' railway journey from Bergen to Oslo it is quite impossible to do justice in the brief space at our disposal. Let it suffice that, in the opinion of every member of the party, scenery of such indescribable magnificence had never been experienced before. Part of the journey was made above the snow line-which ranges from
below 3,000 feet in Seiland to slightly above 5,000 feet in south Norway. Sunday morning saw us at the quayside, with our Norwegian hosts, to greet many Dutch, Swedish, Danish, Swiss and Sudeten German friends who had arrived by boat for the Congress. In the afternoon, delegates had the opportunity and privilege - which no one then present is likely to forget! - of enjoying the full generosity of Norwegian hospitality at the beautiful home of Dr. and Fru Rögler, at Hvalstad, where a magnificent panoramic view can be obtained of Oslo fjord.

Formal inauguration of the Congress took place in the banqueting hall of Oslo university on Monday morning, July 11th when, after a short address of welcome by Dr. Rögler to the delegates and visitors (including members of the public) ,the President of the Union, den Heer van Borrendam, declared the Congress open. Among letters and telegrams of regret for absence received were messages from Dr. Hindhede of Denmark and Professor Johannes Ude. Silent and upstanding tribute of respect was paid to those distinguished vegetarian pioneers - foremost of whom, perhaps, was Mr. J. L. Saxon of Sweden - whose death had occurred since the holding of the last Congress in Denmark three years ago. Short speeches - interspersed with classical music rendered by a hidden orchestra - by representatives of various nations included a cordial expression of thanks to our Norwegian hosts by Mrs. Wyatt on behalf of delegates and visitors from Great Britain. In view of the short notice at which the Congress had to be arranged, after last-minute cancellation of the arrangements made for holding it in Bulgaria, the the attendance and general response must indeed have been gratifying to the organisers. The speakers included Herr Oluf Egerod and Herr Hans E. Feix, (Hon. Treasurer and Hon. Secretary, respectively, of the International Vegetarian); Herr B. O. Dürr (Czechoslovakia); Herr Carl Schelin (Sweden) Herr M. H. Roodschild (Holland) ; Herr Søren Egerod (Denmark); Herr Werner Zimmerman (Switzerland); Dr. Möinichen and Herr J. E. Castberg (Norway). The last-named possesses the distiction of being the oldest Norwegian vegetarian. Like Herr Egerod, Mr. Dugald Semple and Herr Zimmerman during subsequent Congress addresses, he urged the necessity of emphasising the fundamental humanitarian and spiritual basis of vegetarianism. Afterwards the assembly adjourned to the Kurbadet vegetarian restaurant, where an excellent lunch was forthcoming. In the afternoon a lecture in Swedish, with accompanying lantern slides, was given by Professor John Almkvist, of Stockholm, on "Air, Sun and Clothing." In the late afternoon delegates and visitors left by motor-coach for the Congress centre. Apart from the beautiful scenery en route, it became obvious from the condition of such growing crops as oats, barley and wheat (which, together with rye, constitute the principal cereal crops of Norway) that we were in the most fertile region of the country.

At the charmingly situated and well appointed Hurdals Verk Tourist Hotel, some ninety delegates and visitors were shown to the accommodation that had been reserved for each one. A meal having been served, brief addresses of welcome in Norwegian, German and English brought the evening to a close. For the abundance of well-cooked and attractively prepared dishes (including "Kruska," or Swedish porridge) due tribute must be paid to the efficient and untiring supervision of the kitchen staff by Fru Rögler, which involved much personal labour on her part. Surrounded by well-wooded hills, and charmingly situated north of Hurdals Lake, about forty miles from Oslo, the premises were ideal for the purposes of the Congress, and advantage was taken, on the few occasions when weather permitted, to hold meetings out-of-doors. A full programme each day comnenced with gymnastics (generally at 6 a.m.). Breakfast, lunch and dinner were usually held at 8 a.m., 1 and 7 p.m., respectively. Bathing and boating facilities were afforded by a nearby stream.

Views of Hurdals Verk

Hoisting of the Congress banner took place on Tuesday morning July 12th, amid quaint surroundings where it remained until the morning of of Saturday, July 16th, when visitors and delegates left Hurdals Verk. Appropriate speeches on each occasion were delivered by the genial president of the Union, den Heer van Borrendam . At the business sessions of the Congress, the report of the Hon. Secretary Herr Feix, was read, and reports from delegates were also received covering the period since the last triennial Congress was held. Apart from those given on behalf of The Vegetarian Society and the London Vegetarian Society, others were delivered by Herr B. O. Dürr (Czechoslovakia), Herr M. H. Roodschild (Holland) and Herr. H. L. Henriksen (Denmark). Greetings and regrets for absence were received, among others, from Professor John Hughes, Dr. Wilhelm Winsch, Herr Moritz Schnitzer, Fru Saxon, the Humanitarian Health Society of Northern Ireland, Monsieur J. Morand and Mr. Peter Freeman.

A popular proposal was that Herr Dürr (eighty-two years of age next December, and a vegetarian of twenty-eight years' standing should be elected Hon. President of the International Vegetarian Unionan - an office which he duly accepted. The present President, Hon. Treasurer, Hon. Secretary and Committee of the Union were unanimously re-elected. Den Heer van Borrendam, Herr Oluf Egerod, Herr Hans E. Feix and Mr. Frank Wyatt were re-elected as members of Committee, the name of Dr. Rögler being added. A joint invitation from The Vegetarian Society and the London Vegetarian Society for the next Triennial Congress to be held in Great Britain in 1941 was enthusiastically accepted, it being understood that the President of the Congress would be chosen by the two British societies through whom the invitation was now tendered.

(sitting) MR. DUGALD SEMPLE [scottish!] AND MR. AUSTIN T. YOUNG;
(middle row)
(back row)

During the course of the Congress, eloquent addresses were delivered by representatives of various countries. Whenever possible, brief synopses were given, if necessary, in English or German. Among these for example, may be mentioned "Vegetarianism as Foundation as Foundation of a Healthy Life" by Herr Werner Zimmermann; "My Way from Disease to Health" by Herr Are Waerland, and "Vegetarianism and World Peace" by Mr. Dugald Semple. When practicable, questions and discussions were invited.

The social life of the Congress, however, was by no means neglected. Excursions were made to the national museums at Eidsvoll Verk and Mailhaugen; and the home (now a museum) of Björnstjerne Björnson, the Norwegian poet and politician, was also visited. All these excursions were of outstanding pleasure and interest. A gracious invitation was extended to the delegates and visitors to visit the characteristically Norwegian home of the Rev. Niels O. Lee and Mrs. Lee, whose charming courtesy and hospitality made the ooccasion a memorable one. A delightful "Evening of the Nations," to which contributions of song, recitation, etc., were offered by represntatives of various countries was an outstanding social event. Dancing brought the final evening at Hurdals Verk to a close.

A visit to Lihlehammer - where, owing to the great beauty of its environs, there is an international artists' colony - on Lake Mjösen (sixty-two miles long, and the largest in Norway) was a fitting conclusion to a Congress that was unforgettable as regards beauty of surroundings and cordial goodwill. Part of the return jouney i.e., from Eidsvoll Verk to Oslo, was made over the first railway in Norway - build by Robert Stevenson. The railway journey from Oslo to Bergen - comprising some of the world's most beautiful panoramas and a superb engineering feat - was made by night. From Bergen, the new and luxurious m.v. "Vega" took us back to the " tame and domestic" beauty of England. As the towering mountains of Norway merged into the distant sky long after one of the last of her girdle of one hundred and fifty thousand islands had been lost to view, the foremost thought of each remained "Norge, jeg elsker Dig!" ("Norway, I love you!")

This photos appeared the following month and the first one is probably all those attending the Congress.

Another group taken at last month's International Vegetarian Congress in Norway.
Left to right:
Mr. and Mrs. C. J. van Borrendam (Holland), Mr. H. E. Feix (Czechoslovakia),
Mrs. Rogler and Dr. Rogler (Norway), Mr. B. O. Durr (Czechoslovakia),
Professor J. Almkvist (Sweden), Mr. O. Egerod (Denmark).