October 09, 2022

Why we should all love Heinrich Zimmermann.

Saturday 8th October, 2022

I have to admit, I had never even heard of him. Shame on me, because I and many others have good reason to thank him and to be grateful. For it was Heinrich Zimmermann who, on March 24th 1925, originated World Animal Day at the Sports Palace in Berlin. His aim, to promote animal rights and welfare throughout the world. The first World Animal Day was meant to be held on October 4th, the feast day of St Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals and ecology. Apparently the Sports Palace wasn't available on that date, but the official date of World Animal Day was moved to October 4th in 1929. After years of hard work, his proposal to have October 4th recognised was accepted unanimously at the Congress of International Animal Protection, held in Florence in 1931.

Heinrich Zimmermann was a cynologist, a term sometimes used to describe someone who takes a serious, zoological approach to the study of dogs and canine subjects. A Polish writer and publisher, Zimmermann moved to Germany to organise the first event, and also promoted it through his magazine Mens und Hund/Man and Dog. He was also involved in cat protection. However, in 1933, when the Nazis came to power, they were determined to purge the membership archive of his Berlin Cats Protection organisation because there were Jewish members. Zimmermann was too quick for them and destroyed all the files before they could see them. As a result the society was banned and Zimmermann forced to return to Poland. He was killed in 1942, either in the Krakow Ghetto or deported and killed in the nearby Auschwitz concentration camp. 

It's nearly 100 years since Heinrich Zimmermann conceived and inaugurated Wold Animal Day - his name may be mostly forgotten and unknown, but his vision and his work lives on. We owe him an immense  vote of thanks.

No comments:

Post a Comment