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History of the Czech & Slovakian Vegetarian Societies

From Jan Stastny in Prague:

I have now searched more in old magazines and books in the National library and have now a copy of the first book about vegetarianism published here (in german, 1859) and first czech book from 1865. And the first society was formed after the call of Salomon von Friedberg in 1884 (he published another book that year and his friends advised him to found a vegetarian society, so he did it few years later) and was registered at about 1891. This society lasts till 1948 (when one of the original cofounders and owner of the first vegetarian stor in Prague (1890) died).

But after the death of Salomon von Friedberg the pure vegetarianism more or less disappeared from this society and the were more oriented to healthy living and natural healing.

Also, after 1890, the "Union of Nature Healers" was founded by Moriz Schnitzer and B.O.Dürr - they were at the VV Congress 1923 and later. They represented especially Germans from Bohemia.

Both societies cooperated well and represented two nationalities in CZ

1929 the "Czech Vegetarian Club was founded (by Emanuel Vonka, Premysl Pitter, A. Batek and other known from the Veg. Congresses, all one or two generations younger than representants from the previous two societies and vegetarian oriented, not that natural healing etc. but animal rights and vegetarianism)


The state of Czechoslovakia was created in 1918. The first reference we have of a Vegetarian Society in the IVU records is from the reports of the 1923 IVU Congress held in Stockholm, Sweden:

After extending a hearty welcome to all, he called upon the Hon. Congress Secretary, Madame Lombard (Stockholm), to read the Roll Call of the Delegates. Each rose as his or her name was called. The following is a full list : ... ; Czecho-slovakia - Moriz Schnitzer (Union of Nature Healers) and Adalbert Schnitzer, Warnsdorf; B. O. Dürr, Komotau ; Karl Micka, Deutsgabel ;...

... We give the full list of papers in alphabetical order :- ... Moriz Schnitzer on "The Nature Healing Institutions in Germany and Austria," ....

... The Chairman said that, owing to the great disturbance caused by the War the Committee felt as if we ought almost to make a new beginning and that the Constitution would need some alteration. He invited members for the International Vegetarian Unon and the delegates from the following countries expressed their desire to join :- .... Czecho-Slovakia. ...

Some discussion arose as to the advisability of admitting Nature Healing Societies as members of the International Vegetarian Union. ..., Mr. Schnitzer, .... took part. It was resolved :- That any National Food-Reform Society whose executive power is vested only in its vegetarian members shall be eligible for membership of the International Vegerarian Union.

Extracts from the report of the 1926 IVU Congress, held in London, England:

... the delegates were introduced to the assembly, and the following is the order in which they responded to the roll call ... , Herr B. O. Durr and Herr H. F. Feix (Czecho-Slovakia), ...

Extracts from the report of the 1932 Congress, held in Berlin/Hamburg, Germany:

The programme is likely to be a very interesting one and included among the speakers are ... Professor Ruzicka (Pressburg) [now Bratislava] .... both of whom took a prominent part in the last Congress at Steinschönau in 1929.

... an official welcome from the .... President and Secretary of the I.V.U., Mr. Cari Gumprecht and Mr. H. E. Feix. [Mr Feix from Warnsdorf CZ - photo right]...

... Before the addresses were delivered, short speeches were made by the chairmen for the morning session - .... and Moritz Schnitzer (Warnsdorf). ...

... The General Secretary, Mr. Hans E. Feix (Warnsdorf) reported upon the work of the Union during the last three years, ...

... The appointed committee consisted of .... the General Secretary, Mr. Hans E. Feix (Warnsdorf), ...

Extracts from the report of the 1935 Congress, held in Denmark:

... Mr. Hans E. Feix, honorary secretary ...

The Ethics of Vegetarianism.
At the Monday morning session, Mr. M. SCHNITZER (Czecho-Slovakia), speaking on the subject of "The Ethical Worth of Vegetarianism," said he was a vegetarian for moral reasons and held that man should be guided in his choice by his conscience and by the senses of sight, smell, hearing and taste. Our senses, had, however, been wrongly used for hundreds of years and the brain's keenness of reception spoiled. If man followed the guidance of his senses and his conscience he would abstain from flesh-food, from alcoholic liquors and from tobacco. In the present day we have in "jazz" music an additional offence to the sense of hearing.

Mr. Schnitzer had been led to the practice of vegetarianism by the revolting sight of an animal being slaughtered in the open air. One fine morning he saw a young cow bound to a linden tree in flower. The butcher came on the fair scene, stunned the animal with a blow of his pole-axe and then cut its throat. How different the effect on the senses from that of viewing an orchard ripe with fruit

That the eating of flesh-foods was wrong was shewn by the fact that man could not eat them without the addition of condiments. Natural, unspoiled foods needed no such aid.

Charged with illegally practising as a physician, Mr. Schnitzer had been forced to appear before a judge, but he won the day and his influence as a teacher of natural methods of healing had grown rapidly from that time. He was sure that vegetarianism must succeed because it was built upon man's love for all creatures. Man was not made for this life only, and the best preparation for the life to come was to live a pure life here and now.

Vegetarianism and the Bible.
Mr. SIMON KUPCIK (Czecho-Slovakia) in opening his lecture on "Vegetarianism and the Bible," quoted President Masaryk as saying that the future belonged to those who followed the highest ideal of life and way of living. Mr. Kupcik said that vegetarians were the privileged to play a leading part in bringing about the establishment and of the Kingdom of God upon earth, and vegetarians in CzechoSlovakia were trying to make this ideal come true in their own country.

Vegetarians would find in the Bible every support for their abstinence from flesh-foods.Vegetarianism was part of God's world plan, as set forth in the Epistle to the Romans, chapter viii, verses 19 to 22:

"For the earnest expectations of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of Him who hath subjected the same in hope, because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travail in pain together until now."
In the first chapter of Genesis we were told that God said

"Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed to yon it shall be for meat."
At that time everything "was very good," but man had fallen from his innocent state and we lived in evil days. Yet, we had the great promise in the book of Isaiah that

"The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid ; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together ; and a little child shall lead them."
History showed us that luxurious living inevitably led to national decay. We were warned:

"Be not among wine bibbers, among riotous eaters of flesh."

Jesus said:

"For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking and knew not until the flood came and took them all away, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be.

Therefore take heed to yourselves, lest at ainy time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness and that day come upon you unawares."

In conclusion, Mr. Kupcik said that vegetarianism, teetotalism and pacifism were linked together and their universal practice was essential before we could have the establishment of the Kingdom of God upon earth.

... Delegates realized the splendid work done by Mr. Egerod and Mr. Feix in the face of unusual difficulties. ... Mr. Hans E. Feix (Czecho-Slovakia) [re-elected} honorary secretary.

Extracts from the report of the 1935 Congress, held in Denmark:

... Brief speeches were made by Messrs. O. EGEROD (Treasurer) and HANS E. FEIX (General Secretary of the Union), ... Apologies for absence and expressions of good wishes were read from ... Mr. M. Schnitzer (Czecho-Slovakia), ... The Secretary (Mr. H. E. Feix) then read his Report and the Treasurer (Mr. Oluf Egerod) presented his financial statement, ...Reports of work accomplished during the past three years were presented by the delegates from ... Czecho-Slovakia, ...Mr. Hans E. Feix (Czecho-Slovakia), [re-elected] Honorary Secretary.

Hans Feix & Herr Durr in 1938


From the report of the 1938 IVU Congress, held in Norway:

... 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. ...... Apologies for absence and expressions of good wishes were read from ... Mr. M. Schnitzer (Czecho-Slovakia), ... Reports of work accomplished during the past three years were presented by the delegates from .... Czecho-Slovakia, ... Mr. Hans E. Feix (Czecho-Slovakia), [was re-elected] Honorary Secretary. ...


Mr Emil Just & Mr Emanuel Vonka in 1947

From the report of the 1947 IVU Congress, held in Stonehouse, England: "... the President, Mr. W. A. SIBLY, M.A. (Oxon.), J.P. Stonehouse, Glos., referred to the passing (during the war) of the Union's .., of its Honorary President, Herr Durr, of Czecho-Slovakia, ..." ... " ... In addition, Mr. Emil Just and Mr. Emanuel Vonka spoke as representatives of Czecho-slovakia, ... "

The reports from the 1950 IVU Congress, held in The Netherlands, make no mention of Czechoslovakia.


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The is from an article called "Message from Czechoslovakia" from the Vegetarian News (London Vegetarian Society), 1957 or 1958, page 71, the "changed conditions" mentioned was the fact, that the communist regime stole their restaurants. - Jan Stastny. The text:
Mr. E Vonka surrounded by his family
We received a warm message of goodwill from Mr. Emanuel Vonka (senior), of Prague. He tells us he is now 86 and still 100 per cent vegetarian.
In the picture you see Mr. Vonka seated and surrounded by his children, and he says "Every one of us had a vegetarian restaurant of his own." Owing to changed conditions, however they all work in quite different enterprises now. Mr. Vonka's last visit to England was to attend the International Vegetarian Congress held at Stonehouse in 1947. No doubt some of our readers will remember meeting him on that occasion. We are arranging for copies of Vegetarian News to be sent to him regularly as published, so that he may be kept in touch with the vegetarian movement in Britain.

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The state of Czechoslovakia was dissolved in 1993 to become the two states of the Czech Republic and Slovakia. For IVU members and supporters in those countries see

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