International Vegetarian Union (IVU)
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History of the German Vegetarian Societies

Some individuals from Germany:

Albrecht von Haller M.D. 1708-1777

Johann Friedrich Schiller 1759-1805

Christian Wilhelm Hufeland M.D. 1762-1836

Arthur Schopenhauer 1788-1860

Georg Friedrich Daumer 1800-1875

Justus von Liebig 1803-1873

Gustav Von Struve 1805-1870

Other Propagators in Germany Mid 19th C.

Richard Wagner 1813-1882

Eduard Baltzer 1814 - 1887

Karl Klindworth 1830-1916

Lilli Lehmann 1848-1929

Elly Ney 1882-1968

Dr. Gustav Selss IVU 1908-10

Carl Gumprecht IVU 1929-32

Karl Bartes IVU 1932-35

Gisela Litz b 1922

Albert Mangelsdorff 1928-2005

Hildegard Behrens b.1937

In 1867 Eduard Baltzer, from Liepzig, founded the Deutsche Verein für natürliche Lebensweise (German Natural Living Society) - as far as we know this was the first society in Germany to promote vegetarianism.

The following year, 1868, Gustav von Struve founded the Stuttgarter Vegetarierverein (Stuttgart Vegetarian Association) ; this group expanded in 1877 to become Süddeutschen Vegetarierverein (South German Vegetarian Association).

In 1879 Robert Springer founded a group in Berlin - Deutsche Verein für harmonische Lebenweise (German Association for Harmonious Living), which soon became another national society, the Vegetarier Verein. There were soon many more local groups in Germany mostly affiliated to one of the two national groups.

In September 1889 the Liepzig group invited the two major British Societies and others from Germany to a Congress in Cologne. This appears to have been the first ever international gathering of vegetarians. A good time was had by all, including boat trips on the Rhine for the first two days followed by lectures and discussions on the remaining days. The event was very successful, with between 80-100 people at each of the lectures, and it was agreed to arrange further international meetings.

On October 1st the London Vegetarian Society initiated the Vegetarian Federal Union, which was meant to be for all vegetarian societies from any country but, in reality, was mostly English speaking groups in Britain, Ireland and America. Some representatives from Germany attended an International Congress organised by VFU in London in September 1890, and one or more German groups joined VFU, but they were never very actively involved.

On June 7, 1892, at a joint Congress in Leipzig, the two national societies agreed to unite and form the Deutscher Vegetarier-Bund (German Vegetarian Federation) with its base in Liepzig.

By the end of 1893 many more local groups had joined the Federation, including 'Berlin, Chemnitz, Frankfurt/M., Glauchau, Hanover, Hamburg, Leipzig, Magdeburg, Meissen, Zurich as well as the vegetarian settlements Eden Orianenburg, near Berlin, and Bülach in Switzerland.' The Bund published a magazine: Vegetarische Warte.

The Stuttgart group remained outside the Federation along with a few others, but over the following years about 70% had joined the Bund.

In 1908 the first IVU Congress was held in Dresden, this was initiated by the Manchester, UK based Vegetarian Society, following a suggestion from the French Society. The idea of holding the Congress in Dresden may have been a deliberate attempt to link the English and German speaking Federations - if so it succeeded admirably and IVU has continued from that point until today.

The Dresden Vegetarian Society was founded in 1881 and in 1908 it appears to have been a member of the Deutscher Vegetarier-Bund as they worked closely together on the Congress with Dr.Selss, president of the Bund, in the chair. The Secretary of the Dresden Society is mentioned in the reports as Georg Förster.

Between 1910 and 1913 Herr Förster and his wife, Martha, broke away from the Bund to form their own societies, including Verein Vegetarischer Frauen - Association of Vegetarian Women founded by Martha. In 1918 another Federation was started from Berlin and the Dresden groups joined it. However by 1930 they had fallen out and the Dresden groups started their own Federation, very much based on the personality of Georg Förster, but nevertheless very successful.

In 1932 the IVU Congress was held at the Eden Camp, Berlin, which was a member of the Deutscher Vegetarier-Bund - now celebrating its 40th year.

In 1935 independent societies were made illegal and were forced to either join the Nazi Living Reform Movement or close. The members of the Deutcher Vegetarier-Bund conducted a ballot of their members and they voted to close. On February 18, 1935 the Bund was dissolved.

The groups based in Dresden attempted to continue under Nazi authority but they had also closed by 1941 or 42.

In 1945 the Vegetarians re-established themselves and, after various reorganisations and name changes, became the Vegetarier-Bund Deutschlands (Vegetarian Federation of Germany) in 1985.

The following articles appeared in the May/June 1992 issue of Der Vegetarier (VBD magazine) which celebrated the centenary of the Bund.

  • Ursprung - Weg und Ziel / Origin - Way and a Goal - introduction
  • Eduard Baltzer (1814-1887) - founder of the first society in 1867 (Deutsch / English)
  • Vegetarischen Vereine bis 1945 / Vegetarian Associations until 1945
  • Die Vegetarische Bewegung seit 1945 / The vegetarian movement since 1945

    also from other sources :

  • The Vegetarian Movement in Germany - from The Vegetarian (London), April 26, 1890
  • Report from the Deutscher Vegetarier Bund, 1897
  • 1908 IVU Congress in Dresden
  • January 1909 - The German Vegetarian Society reports an increase of membership numbering 348 since January 1908. This is a record number within an equal period since the "Bund" has been formed. [note this was just the increase in 1908 - the total membership figure was not given]
  • Dr. Selss (President of the Deutcher Vegetarier-Bund) 1908 - 1910
  • Some notes from the IVU Congresses in the 1920s - with some photos
  • 1932 IVU Congress in Berlin/Hamburg

    The Deutscher Vegetarier Bund voted to close in February 1935 and was re-formed in 1945. The report from the 1935 IVU Congress noted simply that "two of its important societies had seceded" - presumably the Dresden based group had also left IVU whilst attempting to continue under the Nazis.

    The report from the 1938 Congress included: "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."

    From the report of the 1947 IVU Congress, Held in Stonehouse, England: "... it is regretted that the delegates from Germany did not receive their permits to travel until after the Congress was over." ... "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." ... "...Messages of good wishes to the Congress were also received from ... the Liga für Lebens-Reform (Hamburg)."...

Other related info (some from Switzerland, the early German Federation included some Swiss groups):

The VBD today can be found at: (in German)

If you have any more information about anything on this page please contact John Davis -