Eesti loomakaitseliikumine sõdadevahelisel perioodil / Animal Protection Movement in Interwar Estonia

Erich Kattenbergi tegevus / Erich Kattenberg and His Activities


  • Karl Hein Tallinna Ülikool / Tallinn University



1918–1940, loomakaitse ajalugu, ühingud, loomad, loomade heaolu, history of animal protection, associations, animals, animal welfare


Eestis oli 1920.–1930. aastatel aktiivne loomakaitseliikumine. Kui 1918. aastal oli Eestis vaid üks loomakaitseorganisatsioon, siis iseseisvuse ajal kasvas nende hulk 22-ni, liikumisega seotud isikute hulk aga lausa 10 000-ni. Artiklis on kirjeldatud Eesti loomakaitseliikumise kujunemist, edenemist ja hääbumist sõdadevahelisel perioodil, keskendudes liikumise olulisima eestvedaja, Tallinna Loomakaitse Seltsi inspektori Erich Kattenbergi tegevusele.


The article gives an overview of the Estonian animal protection movement during the interwar period (1918–1940). The interbellum era was an especially active period for the Estonian animal protection movement, yet very little has been written about it. Hence, the main purpose of the article is to acknowledge the existence of the movement in general. The main sources used are newspaper articles from the interwar period; additional sources include the animal welfare magazines published in the 1930s. 

The first animal welfare organisation in the Baltics was the Riga Society against Cruelty to Animals, founded in 1861, while in Estonia the first society of this kind was the Tallinn Animal Protection Association, created in 1869. When Estonia gained independence in 1918, the Tallinn Animal Protection Association was the only animal welfare organisation in the country. It had approximately 600 members, most of whom were Baltic Germans. 

A significant turn in the Estonian animal protection movement came in 1924, when Erich Kattenberg started working for the Tallinn Association as an animal protection inspector. Kattenberg was a dedicated animal welfare enthusiast who carried out inspections, organised events, wrote articles and gave speeches about the topic, and collaborated with schools, churches and governmental organisations. In particular, he focused on youth work. In 1927 he created a youth group at the Tallinn Animal Protection Association, which had more than 4000 members by 1934. 

In the autumn of 1926, Kattenberg wrote articles to the Estonian newspapers, inviting all friends of the animals to spread the animal protection movement across the country. As a result of his call, several new animal protection groups were created and by 1932 there were 22 animal protection associations in Estonia. Also the number of activists in Estonia started rising so that by 1933 there were approximately 10,000 people connected with the Estonian animal protection organisations.

Under the leadership of Kattenberg, the Estonian animal protection organisations founded the Estonian Union of Animal Protection in 1928. It united all animal protection groups in Estonia and became the central and most important organisation of animal protection in Estonia. In the 1930s the activists started publishing journals of animal protection: the first among these was Loomakaitsja (‘The protector of animals’), published by Erich Kattenberg and the Estonian Union of Animal Protection. It first appeared in 1931, and, after a hiatus, resumed publication  in 1934. In 1935 the journal changed its name to Eesti Loomasõber (‘The Estonian friend of animals’) and was published under that name until 1939. The second journal, published by the members of the Tartu Estonian Animal Protection Association in 1934–1936, was called Loomakaitse Ajakiri (‘The magazine of animal protection’). Since Eesti Loomasõber and Loomakaitse Ajakiri were published at the same time, there was a strong rivalry between the two, which turned into a conflict between the Estonian Union of Animal Protection and the Tartu Estonian Animal Protection Association. As a result of the conflict, Erich Kattenberg decided to resign from the board of the Union in 1935.

After Kattenberg’s resignation, the Estonian Union of Animal Protection’s new chairs, who also became the spokespersons of the Estonian animal welfare movement in general, included Elmar Vau (1935–1936), Bernhard Methusalem (1936–1938) and Peeter Päts (1938–1940). 

The animal protection movement in Estonia ended in 1940, when Estonia was occupied by the Soviet Union, and recovered only in the 20th and early 21st century, when Estonia had restored its independence.


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Author Biography

Karl Hein, Tallinna Ülikool / Tallinn University

Karl Hein – Tallinna Ülikooli doktorant; doktoritöö teemaks Eesti loomakaitseliikumine maailmasõdade vahelisel perioodil. Õppinud Tartu Ülikoolis ajalugu ja usuteadust.


Karl Hein has studied history and religion at the University of Tartu and is currently PhD candidate at Tallinn University; his doctoral research is concerned with animal protection movement in interwar Estonia.