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10th World Vegetarian Congress 1938

Hurdals Verk, Norway

From The Vegetarian Messenger (Manchester), August 1938:


Many circumstances threatened to mar the success of the tenth International Vegetarian Congress, originally planned to be held in Bulgaria and at comparatively short notice changed to Norway. It was due chiefly to the activity of Dr. H. J. Rogler (Oslo photo right with family), who acted as the local Secretary, that the third Congress to be held in Scandinavia owes its success. Only those who have been responsible for organising such a gathering can appreciate fully the vast amount of work entailed and Dr. Rogler is to be congratulated upon the manner in which he so successfully arranged for the comfort and pleasure of visitors attending the meetings.

Opening Meetings.

The opening meeting of the Congress took place on Monday morning (11th July), in the Banquet Hall of the University, Oslo. Music, which included selections from Grieg, was rendered at in-tervals between the speeches and was greatly appreciated.
Dr. Rogler, as Congress secretary, extended a welcome to Norway to all present and then called upon the President of the Union, Mr. C. J. VAN BORRENDAM (Holland) to address the assembly. The President officially greeted delegates and visitors from the various countries. He said that it had not been an easy task to arrange the present Congress on account of the difficult social and political situation throughout Europe. He expressed the grate-ful thanks of all present to Dr. and Mrs. Rogler for undertaking the task of organising the Congress.

Brief speeches were made by Messrs. O. EGEROD (Treasurer) and HANS E. FEIX (General Secretary of the Union), followed by Herr Durr, the Union's esteemed Honorary President. Herr Durr (CzechoSlovakia), now in his 82nd year, who spoke in a charming manner, said that he had attended every Congress since the war and was looking forward to being in England in 1941 and Holland in 1944. In Steinschönau he had seen chronic diseases cured by means of a vegetarian diet and he appealed to the doctors to follow our way of living. It was not necessary, he said, to wait and to approach vegetarianism slowly - it could be done at once. Mr. J. F. CASTBERG (Oslo) - Norway's oldest vegetarian - said that if we had a true conception of morality it would be impossible for us to eat flesh in order to live. He was delighted to see so many friends from various parts of the world, and he hoped that they would return to their homes with pleasant memories of Norway.

SÖREN EGEROD, the son of the Union's popular treasurer, who, as a life vegetarian, had just been interviewed by the press, briefly addressed the Congress and expressed grateful thanks to his parents for being in the position of not having touched tobacco, alcohol or flesh.

Mr. OLUF EGER0D (Treasurer), who followed, said that if we wanted to work for peace we must work for vegetarianism. There could never be any lasting peace so long as we went on killing animals. Vegetarianism was not the only essential for peace but it was an important one, and even if it were not the best way for health we must live as vegetarians.

Delegates from the various countries briefly replied to the welcome of the President.

The delegates from Gt. Britain were Mrs. Wyatt (London), Mr. J. A. Reid (Assistant Secretary, London Vegetarian Society), Mr. Dugald Semple (President of the Scottish V. S. and Vice-President of The Vegetarian Society) and Mr. H.H. Jones, B.A. (Assistant Secretary, The Vegetarian Society). In addition, the other visitors from England included Mr. and Mrs. Austin T. Young (London), Mrs. and Miss Oborn (Sunningdale, Berks.), Mr. H. Bettoney (Leicester), and Mrs. H. H. Jones (Manchester).

In the unavoidable absence of Dr. Johannes Ude (Austria), and Mr. Peter Freeman (Gt. Britain), the first address at the morning session was delivered by Dr. E. MÖNICHEN, Head of the Nature Cure Sanatorium, near Oslo. The doctor spoke of his experiences which led him to become a vegetarian. As a young man, he said, he had far too much flesh-meat and not enough vegetables. At the time of the construction of the Bergen Railway he casually met a vegetarian and the conversation which then ensued caused him to give much thought to the subject. He studied both at home and abroad, both as a layman and as a doctor, and he had since observed the good results of vegetarianism among many thousands of patients. He said that from whatever point of view one looked at the matter - ethical, biological, medical - man was not a flesh-eater. Too much animal protein was a potent cause of toxic matter in the intestines. On the other hand, vegetarians were not always well because they frequently partook of too much of one type of food. It was therefore not enough to be a vegetarian - careful selection of foods was also necessary.

In the afternoon, Professor Dr. JOHAN ALMKVIST (Stockholm), lectured on "Air, Sun and Clothing." He went into considerable detail regarding the functioning of the skin, the work of the pores and the effect of their contact with the air and the sun. He con-cluded his lecture with a series of lantern slides illustrating his address.

By 8 o'clock on Monday evening, after a two hours char-a-banc journey from Oslo, delegates and other visitors were comfortably housed amidst the delightful surroundings of Hurdals Verk, the Congress Centre for the next few days.
A popular feature of the Congress was the early morning gym-nastic exercises under the able leadership of WERNER ZIMMERMANN (Switzerland).

Business Meeting.

On Tuesday morning, after a short speech by the President, Mr. J. C. van Borrendam (Holland), the Congress banner was hoisted and delegates assembled for the business meeting of the Union, which was continued On the Friday morning.

Apologies for absence and expressions of good wishes were read from Professor Dr. Johannes Ude (Austria), Mr. Peter Freeman (President, The Vegetarian Society, Great Britain), Mrs. Saxon (Sweden), Professor Dr. John Hughes (California), Mr. W. D. Cousins (Northern Ireland), Dr. Hindhede (Den-mark), Mr. M. Schnitzer (Czecho-Slovakia), and from friends in Germany, Bulgaria, Hungary and Poland.

The Secretary (Mr. H. E. Feix) then read his Report and the Treasurer (Mr. Oluf Egerod) presented his financial statement, intimating that it would be very desirable if more countries became affiliated to the Union. Reports of work accomplished during the past three years were presented by the delegates from The Vegetarian Society (Great Britain), The London Vegetarian Society (Great Britain), Czecho-Slovakia, Holland, Sweden, Denmark and Norway.
Mr. C. J. van Borrendam (Holland), was re-elected President, Mr. Oluf Egerod (Denmark), Honorary Treasurer, and Mr. Hans E. Feix (Czecho-Slovakia), Honorary Secretary. The officers, together with Dr. H. J. Rogler (Norway) and Mr. F. Wyatt (England), were elected on the special committee to act whenever there was any important business to be dealt with.

An invitation to hold the 1941 Congress in England was conveyed on behalf of The Vegetarian Society by Mr. H. H. Jones, and on behalf of the London Vegetarian Society by Mr. J. Arnold Reid. In accepting the invitation the two delegates were asked to convey the thanks of the meeting to their respective societies.

It was intimated that an invitation to hold the Congress in 1940 had been received from the German Government, but in view of the fact that there was no society from Germany in the Union at the present time, and of the difficulties of local organization under such circumstances, it was felt that the Congress could not see its way to accept the invitation,

Vegetarianism as the foundation of a healthy life.

On Tuesday afternoon, WERNER ZIMMERMANN (Switzerland photo right) dealt with some aspects of healthy living. Man, he said, was a spiritual being, clothed with the body as a means of expression. The laws of life differed from the laws formulated by man and it was essential, if we were to seek health, happiness, and beauty, that we should understand the former. The real Christ life, he said, was not artificial - it was simplicity itself.

Sleep was a very vital factor in the attainment of health, and the time when we took our sleep was equally important. Various suggestions had been made re-garding the ideal time but a hard and fast rule could not be laid down for everybody - the best time for one person was not neces-sarily the best time for another. We should, however, try to change the habit of retiring late and rising late. He considered it impor-tant to sleep on a hard bed. If the bed is soft, the body has no resistance and it becomes weak. The best form of sleeping was on the ground, in a north-south position, on account of the natural influences of radiation and magnetism. The air we breathe must also receive attention, but if we smothered ourselves with too much clothing it would be impossible for us to breathe as we ought. In any scheme for the building of a healthy body, a vegetarian system of living was essential, but it was important to ascertain that all the necessary mineral elements were present in our food. Dullness, for instance, was often an indication of mineral deficiency. Vegetarians he said, must try and realize their ideals in this world and not live too much "in the air." The great law of life was love and as soon as we departed from this law things went wrong. Many people thought of love as an ex-pression of sex, but that was a very one-sided view. It had a much wider significance - it involved a re-shaping of our social and economic standards and the acceptance of the principle of non-violence. There were many vegetarians who were living a very narrow life - who thought only of their stomachs. Life was not only a question of the body: the personality depended upon the harmony of the spirit, the mind and the body. Unless we were true to ourselves and had the courage to he true to others we should never appreciate the freedom which is the accompaniment of true health.

Vegetarianism and the Child.

In brilliant sunshine Dr. ALFRED TIENES addressed his audience in the open-air on the subject of "Vegetarianism and the Child." Dr. Tienes said that as a physician he saw the necessity health education for children. When he was a boy he was forced to eat flesh-meat because at that time it was thought, after pronouncements of Liebig, that it was necessary to eat meat become strong. He did not like it and it meant a continual struggle with his parents. His best friend was similarly placed - he was thrashed at meal times because he did not want flesh-meat, and after contracting diphtheria died in in thirty-six hours. Whilst at school Dr. Tienes came into contact with many boys from poor homes who lived on a very sparse diet and were only able to afford a little flesh-meat once a week. He observed that the poorer boys were healthier and much stronger than those from well-to-do homes, a fact full of significance. He advocated a diet consisting chiefly of fresh fruit, raw vegetables and wholemeal bread. If this were not possible we should follow very closely the diet of the peasantry. It was not true, as had so often been said, that a vegetarian diet was expensive. A satisfactory veget-arian diet could be purchased very cheaply. The doctor stressed the great importance of a vegetarian diet for children, especially as regards sex development. He instanced the excellent work carried on at a co-educational school near Stuttgart, where, under the guidance of Ludwig Wunder, no flesh-eating was allowed in the school. There had never been any sex trouble among the children and self-abuse was unknown. Children should not be forced to eat if they did not want a meal. They should be allowed to fast. Most of the diseases of children came from eating too much. He had seen the had results of forcing mentally defective patients to eat when they were not hungry.

From a wide experience as a physician in the Canary Islands, Italy and in other countries he had seen people doing strenuous work on the simplest fare. Many of us had slight hereditary defect which it might be difficult to get rid of, but it was important that we as vegetarians should live in the right way, otherwise it would be difficult to convince others of the benefits of our mode life.
A very pleasant interlude in the Congress proceedings was a most enjoyable afternoon spent in the house and grounds of the Vicarage at Hurdal, by the kind invitation of the Rev and Mrs. Lie.
A feature of Wednesday evening was the entertainment pro-vided by the representatives of the different nations. There was no lack of variety in the programme and the items were largely of an impromptu character and much appreciated by all present.

On Thursday afternoon, Mr. ARE WAERLAND (Stockholm photo right) gave a vigorous address on "My Way from Disease to Health." After a brief interval at the conclusion of Mr. Waerland's speech an interesting discussion followed in which the following speakers took part: Messrs. Spur, Jones, Reid, Semple, Tienes, Durr and Mrs. Jones. A report of Mr. Waerland's address will appear in the September issue of THE VEGETARIAN MESSENGER.
On Thursday evening after supper, Prof. Almkvist (Stockholm) gave a further lecture on the beneficial effects, from a health point of view, of the complete exposure of the body to sunshine and fresh air.

Vegetarianism and Peace.

The concluding address of the Congress was delivered by Mr. DUGALI) SEMPLE (Gt. Britain photo right), who spoke on "Vegetarianism and Peace." Mr. Semple said that the question of peace was one of the most important problems with which the various countries of the world were concerned at the present time, and people were naturally interested in what we, as vegetarians, had to offer in place of war and preparations for war. The situation throughout Europe was tragic because war was no longer confined to armed forces but meant the slaughter of innocent women and children. The relation between food and war may come as a surprise to many people, hut Socrates pointed out the relationship many years ago. When Plato first outlined the ideal life for his country he suggested that it might be necessary to introduce flesh-foods into his community. Socrates replied by saying that when you introduce flesh-foods it means that you are not going to have sufficient land to grow food and to raise cattle at the same time, and then you will go to your neighbour's territory and cut a slice off his land, and he will object, and then you will go to war with each other. That was the lesson we saw in the last great war and we observe today that many nations which are not self -supporting have a tendency to quarrel with their neighbours.
In Great Britain, before the war, there was only 7.6% of the population living on the land, as against 20% in Belgium, 25% in Holland and 30% in Germany. Today we have only 4.6% of the population in Britain living on the land. It means that the more we get away from nature and congregate people in towns and cities, there is more crime, disease and war. We cannot get away from nature without suffering thereby. We have got to live closer to the laws of our being. We must have a healthy body, but that is not enough. We are suffering today from an unbalanced proportion of activities - we seem to know how to do everything, and yet we do not know how to walk properly. We can link up the world by means of electricity, but we cannot link it up with love and human sympathy. Our attitude towards animals must be completely changed. We must cease to refer to them as "dumb" animals and "livestock." We must remember that they are our co-partners in civilization.

Vegetarianism is not merely a matter of food reform - it is a philosophy of life, and war will only cease when we cease to live as beasts of prey. So long as we prepare for war we shall get war. We must not only study Darwin but also Kropotkin. Those animals which are carnivorous are becoming less and the vegetarian animals are increasing. Vegetarianism is the first great step. The killing of human beings is akin to the killing of animals and so the exploiting of animal life leads to the selfish exploitation of human beings. In quoting Burns, Mr. Semple appealed for a more widespread appreciation of the real values in life - more sunshine for the body, more love for the soul, peace for every living creature the world over.

Peace Resolution.

Following the address by Mr. Semple a resolution was passed by the Congress "calling upon all peoples and their governments to maintain and work for peace." The resolution, voicing the opinion of the representatives of the different nations assembled, expressed disapproval of the repeated air raids on defenceless towns, on unarmed vessels and on peaceful peoples in Europe and Asia. It stated that vegetarians, being opposed to the killing of animals, protested against any effort to promote conditions involving the slaughter of human beings, with its attendant destruction of cul-tural and intellectual values and the widespread debasement of human life.


On Sunday, July 10th, delegates were entertained by Dr. and Mrs. Rogler, at their beautiful home at Hvalstad, a charming village clothed with pine trees, and overlooking the Oslo Fjord some ten miles south-west of the capital. The gracious hospitality of our hosts on this occasion was hut a forerunner of the warm welcome received from our vegetarian friends in Norway.

On Thursday morning a visit was paid to the National Museum at Eidsvoll, where the present Norwegian Constitution, with subsequent alterations, was formulated in 1814. The house is owned by the State and contains records of Norway's constitu-tional history during the past 100 years.

The final excursion coincided with the winding-up of the Congress. Departing for Eidsvoll by autocar, on Saturday morning, the party took the steamer on Norway's largest lake (Lake Mjosen) - 60 miles long - for Lillehammer. Visits were paid to the National Museum (containing examples of Norwegian rustic culture) and to the home of Bjornson - poet, novelist and dramatist - at Aulestad.

Delegates and visitors stayed overnight in Lillehammer, returning to Oslo by train on Sunday afternoon after an interesting week of lectures, excursions, and the valuable opportunities afforded for an exchange of ideas with friends from different countries.