Vegetarian Values

Vegetarian Values


The following is an excerpt, that expresses our values, from:

Animals, My Brethren by Edgar Kupfer-Koberwitz

– written in the Concentration Camp Dachau, in the midst of all kinds of cruelties. They were furtively scrawled in a hospital barrack where I stayed during my illness, in a time when Death grasped day by day after us, when we lost twelve thousand within four and a half months.

edgar-kupfer-koberwitzDear Friend:

You asked me why I do not eat meat and you are wondering at the reasons of my behavior. . . I refuse to eat animals because I cannot nourish myself by the sufferings and by the death of other creatures. I refuse to do so, because I suffered so painfully myself that I can feel the pains of others by recalling my own sufferings. I feel happy, nobody persecutes me; why should I persecute other beings or cause them to be persecuted?  I feel happy, nobody harms me; why should I harm other creatures or have them harmed? I feel happy, nobody wounds me; nobody kills me; why should I wound or kill other creatures or cause them to be wounded or killed for my pleasure and convenience? Is it not only too natural that I do not inflict on other creatures the same thing which, I hope and fear, will never be inflicted on me? Would it not be most unfair to do such things for no other purpose than for enjoying a trifling physical pleasure at the expense of others’ sufferings, others’ deaths?

These creatures are smaller and more helpless than I am, but can you imagine a reasonable man of noble feelings who would like to base on such a difference a claim or right to abuse the weakness and the smallness of others? Don’t you think that it is just the bigger, the stronger, the superior’s duty to protect the weaker creatures instead of persecuting them, instead of killing them? “Noblesse oblige.” I want to act in a noble way.

I think that men will be killed and tortured as long as animals are killed and tortured. So long there will be wars too. Because killing must be trained and perfected on smaller objects, morally and technically.

That is the point: I want to grow up into a better world where a higher law grants more happiness, in a new world where God’s commandment reigns: You Shall Love Each Other.

Edgar Kupfer was imprisoned in Dachau concentration camp in 1940. His last 3 years in Dachau he obtained a clerical job in the concentration camp storeroom. This position allowed him to keep a secret diary on stolen scraps of papers and pieces of pencil. He would bury his writings and when Dachau was liberated on April 29, 1945 he collected them again. The “Dachau Diaries” were published in 1956. From his Dachau notes he wrote an essay on vegetarianism which was translated into “immigrant” English. A carbon copy of this 38 page essay is preserved with the original Dachau Diaries in the Special Collection of the Library of the University of Chicago.