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11th IVU World Vegetarian Congress 1947

Stonehouse, England


THE first postwar Congress of the International Vegetarian Union was held from the 29th July to the 5th August at Wycliffe College, Stonehouse, Gloucestershire.

( larger version of this photo, and a full list of names)

Opening Meetings.
The opening meeting of the Congress followed the evening meal in the dining hall of "Springfield" (the vegetarian house of Wycliffe College), on Tuesday, the 29th July. Before extending a welcome to those present, the President, Mr. W. A. SIBLY, M.A. (Oxon.), J.P. Stonehouse, Glos., referred to the passing (during the war) of the Union's former President, Mr. C. J. van Borrendam, of Holland, of its Honorary President, Herr Durr, of Czecho-Slovakia, and of Mr. Frank Wyatt, the late Secretary of the London Vegetarian Society. The delegates stood in silence before continuing the proceedings.



Overseas Delegates at the IVU Congress
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Mr. W. A. SIBLY extended a most cordial welcome to Wycliffe College to all who had come from overseas and from various parts of Great Britain. He welcomed them as vegetarians - as representatives of a movement which knew no frontiers of race, or blood, or religion or speech. In pleading for a "wise tolerance" he said that whether they were vegetarians for health reasons, whether they believed that the best vegetarian diet was one which confined itself entirely to the direct products of the vegetable kingdom, or one which conformed with the definition of membership laid down by the founders of The Vegetarian Society one hundred years ago, and permitted the inclusion of milk, cheese, and eggs, or whether they sought to emphasize the economic arguments, their attitude towards others should be one of large-hearted and sympathetic comprehension. Mr. Sibly said that they should be well assured that their contribution to the community as vegetarians would be a valuable and an important one. They came with a message of goodwill and brotherhood, of simplicity and peace both between man and man, and between man and the animal creation. Here, he said, was a way of life which would harmonize and help, and heal; which would give fitness of body and serenity of mind; which would promote true temperance; and which would do more for human well-being than all the drugs and medicines and inoculations and sera at present foisted upon mankind. It was encumbent upon all of them, whatever their nationality, to proclaim the advantages and pleasantness of vegetarianism, and by their personal example of healthy living to demonstrate the truth of the faith they possessed.

Mr. Sibly gave them a special welcome to Wycliffe College, which was founded by his father sixty-five years ago, and to Gloucestershire - "a district once on the borders of Celtic Wales, and Roman and afterwards Saxon England, a county through which ran the boundary between the kingdoms of Wessex and Mercia, a county which, with the Cotswold Hills and the Severn Plain and the Forest of Dean and the River Wye, with its ancient camps and cathedrals and abbeys and pleasant stone-built villages, has much of beauty and interest to show you." He hoped that they would make allowance for the present difficulties of life and service in Britain, and that they would all carry away with them the happiest memories of their visit to the West of England.

Mr.OLUF EGEROD (Denmark), the Honorary Treasurer of the Union, in a characteristic reply, thanked Mr. Sibly for the warm welcome he had given them, and also referred to the Centenary Year of The Vegetarian Society.

Brief speeches were made by the overseas delegates - Mr. G. van Nederveen, as President of the Dutch Vegetarian Society, invited the Union to hold its next Congress in 1950 in Holland. He was followed by Mr. N. Nielsen (Denmark), Mr. M. Karlson (Norway), Mr. G. Hedfors (Sweden), Mr. J. Pedersen (Sweden), Mr. A. J. Perroud (France), Mr. E. A. Webbe (U.S.A.), and Mr. J. H. Bolt (Holland). Mr. S. A. Hurren (London) and Mr. Roy Walker (Secretary of the London Vegetarian Society), also spoke as well as Mr. Peter Freeman, M.P., who had made a special journey to Stonehouse from the House of Commons, and had to return the following morning.

During the course of the evening Mr. James Hough (Congress Secretary) intimated that Mr. Webbe had brought with him, by plane, direct from the States, an attractive basket of fruit as a token of goodwill from the vegetarians in America.

Mementos of the Centenary of The Vegetarian Society were presented from Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Holland, and as space will not permit of details of these in the present issue, reproductions will be given in a subsequent number. Mr. Sibly, as President of The Vegetarian Society, expressed the grateful thanks of the Society for the inscribed tokens of appreciation of a century's work in the vegetarian cause.

Business Meetings.

Although it was intended that as much time as possible should be free for friendly intercourse in this first postwar Congress, a good share of the time available was devoted to business matters. The business included reports from representatives of Societies affiliated to the I.V.U., and were given by Mr. Carl Schelin (Sweden), Mr. Dugald Semple (Scotland), Dr. H. J. Rogler (Norway), Mr. Howell Ritson (Ireland), Dr. T. Kaayk (Holland), Mr. J. Hough and Mr. Roy Walker (England), Mr. Niels Nielsen (Denmark). In addition, Mr. Emil Just and Mr. Emanuel Vonka spoke as representatives of Czecho-slovakja, and Mr. E. A. Webbe as a delegate from the United States. It was regrettable that no delegates from Germany had been able to get over in time for the Congress although Mr. Siebeneicher (Berlin), who was in England at the time, attended the Congress before its close.

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Introduced by Mr. J. H. BOLT (Holland), consideration was given to the publication of an international vegetarian magazine, and it was finally agreed that it be a recommendation to the I.V.U. Committee that they take steps forthwith to have I.V.U. news circulated along the following lines :-

(a) The news to be sent in English to a central editor who will edit, duplicate and remit this news sheet to National Societies who will be asked to translate it into their own language and to publish it in full in this language in their magazine.

(b) Each national representative to the I.V.U. to be responsible for the news supplied to the editor.

The constitution of the I.V.U. was revised and copies were distributed to the Societies affiliated to the Union.

An important report was read by Mr. J. H. BOLT (Holland), Hon. Secretary of the I.V.U., on his enquiries through affiliated Societies regarding the position of Vegetarianism in wartime. The report contained some exceedingly interesting information which we intend to publish as space permits.

The Hon. Treasurer, Mr. OLUF EGEROD (Denmark), submitted an audited financial statement which was approved.

Mr. W. A. SIBLY (England) was re-elected President, Mr. JAS. HOUGH (England) to act in the capacity of Vice-President in the event of Mr. Sibly not being available for any meetings of the Committee. Mr. O. EGEROD (Denmark) was re~appointed Hon. Treasurer, and as Mr. J. H. BOLT (Holland) was unable to continue as Hon. Secretary, Mr. KAJ DESSAU (Denmark) was unanimously elected.

The good wishes of the meeting were sent to Mr. G. Bernard Shaw on the occasion of his 91st birthday, and also to Mahatma Gandhi.

The congratulations of the I.V.U. were also cabled to the American Naturopathic Congress, celebrating its Jubilee in New York, and holding a special day devoted exclusively to the exposition of vegetarianism, and the good wishes of the Union were sent to Dr. Nolfi (Denmark), who had just been struck off the medical register in that country for insisting on the practice of natural methods of healing.

A telegram was received, from the Secretary of the CALGARY VEGETARIAN SOCIETY with the message :- "Vegetarians owe a debt of gratitude to the founders of The Vegetarian Society and to those who have upheld its principles since its inception."

Messages of good wishes to the Congress were also received from the Bombay Humanitarian League, the Irish Vegetarian Society, The Malayan Vegetarian Society, and the Liga für Lebens-Reform (Hamburg).


Space in the present issue will only permit of very brief summaries of the lectures delivered at the Congress, but these will be reprinted in full at an early date.

Informal Discussion.
An informal discussion on matters of general interest was held on the College lawn when Mr. G. HEDFORS (Sweden) spoke on the organization of youth movements, Mr. C. J. HANSEN (Denmark) on his personal experience of living on uncooked foods, and Mr. N. NIELSEN (Denmark) on his life as a vegetarian in many countries.

Affiliated Societies.
In view of the Congress having been called in England as part of The Vegetarian Society's Centenary Celebrations, representatives of all but two of the Society's affiliated branches were present.

Farewell Dinner.
The closing session of the Congress at Wycliffe College was marked by a series of short speeches from national representatives who spoke in high praise of the part which Mr. Sibly had played in making their stay at Wycliffe College so enjoyable and of his contribution towards the success of the Congress. Mr. Hough, as Congress Secretary, was also warmly thanked for his work in organizing the Congress and Mr. Jones for his co-operation.

Final Assembly in London.
Leaving Stonehouse on the morning of Tuesday, the 5th August, a representative gathering of I.V.U. delegates met during the afternoon, at the Attic Club, as the guests of the Committee and Officers of the London Vegetarian Society and were entertained to tea. With many of the overseas delegates returning via London, the meeting was most appropriate and Mr. S. A. HURREN (Chairman of the Committee of the London Vegetarian Society), in a few words, charmingly expressed the pleasure it gave them of welcoming the delegates to London. Mr. J. H BOLT (Holland) expressed the thanks and appreciation of those present for the opportunity of meeting together in London. Mr. E. VONKA (Czecho-Slovakia) supported the proposal and Mr. H. H. JONES (Manchester, in putting the motion to the meeting, asked the Chairman to convey their thanks to his Committee, Officers and helpers.

Dr. P. D. KAPUR (Hon. Secretary of the India Society for the Protection of Animals) and Mr. HENRY POLAK (at one time associated with Mahatma Gandhi, in South Africa) also addressed the gathering.

If you can help with any further information about the 1947 Congress, please contact John Davis