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Diedrich and Eva-A love Story and More

Story ID:2524
Written by:Suzana Margaret Megles (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Biography
Location:Durham N.Carolina USA
Person:Diedrich von Haugwitz
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Diedrich and Eva-A love Story and More

I think it is so wonderful when two people not only love each other but share a mutual bond. Dietrich and Eva von Haugwitz did and that unifying bond was a love of animals. With today's link in the Defense of Animals e-mail, I sadly read that Dietrich von Haugwitz died at 79 and that a Memorial Fund to help Chained Dogs was established in his and his deceased wife's

I wonder if I would have even clicked this link had it not been that I had received a short letter from Dietrich a few months ago. He had noticed my letter in Animal People asking if anyone was interested in old Animal Rights and Vegetarian magazines. He wanted to know if I had received a lot of requests because he too had a ready supply to share. Sadly, my letter only generated a few hits, and I wrote him
telling him so. One doesn't easily forget a name like Dietrich von Haugwitz and I later found out in a memorial tribute to him that the "von" in his name showed he had been born to aristocracy.

Interesting, but what sets Dietrich and Eva apart are not their lineage but their great concern for suffering animals. Eva had died 4 years earlier and now I was reading the memorial tribute to Dietrich at the Triangle Vegetarian internet site -- 8 pages long! For interested Echo readers and myself, I want to find and report the salient points of his life so that I can always remember him and his wife gratefully
for their concern for suffering animals.

As there are two sides to every coin --for me this side of the coin has the loving picture of Dietrich with one of his rescued dogs and on the other side --in sharp contrast is the picture of a flambouyant Michael Vick of the Atlanta Falcons punishing severely and even killing his pit bulls who did not perform well.

One of my friends was very, very angry with this football player and justly so. What a terrible example for the youngsters and even grown-ups who may have idolized him. And though I share her anger with I believe a great many people, I am hoping that the notoriety caused by it will produce a serious crack down on this so called "sport" which will hopefully produce severe penalties and jail time for him and like perpetrators.

I was surprised when Vicki my friend connected my not wanting to live to be a 100 with all these horrible revalations of mistreatment to innocent dogs. I think she was right in part, though her next thought I disagreed with. She said if we died, there would be 2 less people caring about animal suffering. I told her no because we could continue our work from heaven. At least I hope so. If the Little Flower (St. Therese of Lisieux) said she would spend her heaven trying to convert sinners, why can't we spend ours helping animals? Though Vicki, I am
probably closer to my "goal" because I am 76 like my "friend" Diedrich who was 79. Unlike a lot of people feeling threatened by the thought of death, I am not. It is just the final step towards our final goal - that is if you believe in God and heaven.

Re Michael Vick, I would rather write about Dietrich and Eva -anytime even if this football player had not brought shame on himself and to his family. I hope they were not complicit in his pit bull-fighting ventures. Dietrich was well known internationally for his extensive animal rights collections of videos. He also
established online discussion groups and he was personally involved in rescuing unfortunate animals when their safety was jeopardized. He and Eva also established a chapter of the N. Carolina Network for Animals to lobby for them. The local newspaper gave him one of their handful of "Indy Citizen Awards" in 1992.

I would have loved to have been at one of Dietrich and Eva's Triangle Vegetarian Society's 4th of July picnics which they held at their lovely home for a number of years. They were a loving couple until July 12, 2003 when TVS reported that Eva had died that day. Eva and Dietrich had just come back from what Dietrich desribed as a love and fun-filled European tour which of course included time in their beloved Germany. Tired, they both went to bed and a few hours later Eva was lifeless.
Dietrich lost Eva after 45 years of marriage and sadly Dietrich admitted to his friend that he felt his life was essentially over and he was never quite the same thereafter.

Now this wonderful caring man also is gone and his obituary read: "Dietrich von Haugwitz,79, of Durham died on Tuesday June 26, 2007 at his home after a short bout with stomach cancer. Mr. Haugwitz retired from Duke University in 1992 as a Health Systems Engineer who wrote computer software for the medical center. He was active as a board member of the NC Network for Animals. Mr. Haugwitz is survived by his only child, Joanne Erznoznik of Chapel Hill"

In his book "Eternal Treblinka" Charles Patterson devotes pages 201-208 to Diedrich's
story and experiences from a lad of 15 whose father even went to the extreme of having his
son's healthy appendix removed to prevent him from being conscripted into the German army. This saved him from 6 months of fighting which may have saved his life. Finally the inevitable happened and he was forced to report to a pre-military anti-aircraft battalion. His story of being wounded in WWII was almost comical except that he almost go killed when a small English plane swooped down on the cabin where he was cooking some food over an open fire -- shirtless because it was very hot The machine gun fire shot the frying pan out of his hand and splattered boiling fat (ouch) all over his chest. And later Diedrich remarked "There, that's how I got wounded in World War II!"

After his capture by the British, his life made many interesting turns - starting with his
bolting from his captors at an opportune moment. He was able to re-unite with his family
but soon becomes disenchanted with a Germany which was disinclined to come to terms with the horrible past and their general complicity. He decides to leave Germany and is sponsored by an organization in Minnesota where he begins work in the little country church which sponsored him. There he directed the church choir, played the organ, and taught piano. He stayed here only 9 months and then moved to California. This brought him an acting job in a German Theater where he met Eva and happily married her in 1960.

He said that he always had been an animal lover, and of course he said he also loved his
sausages. He admitted then that though they had some cats in their house, he and Eva were the usual (meat eating) 'animal lovers.'" This was going to change after three life-transforming incidences. The first occured when he and Eva went on a short trip to Mexico. As most tourists, they decided they would take in a bull fight.

In his own words: "When the first animal was killed, I broke down--emotionally and
physically. I had never witnessed such unabashed animal torture before and simply
couldn't believe what I saw --the suffering of the desparate animal and the blood lust of the cheering crowd! They couldn't wait to see the next animal brought in and tortured. I left, and the memory of what I saw haunted me for several years."

The second event was viewing a British film called the Animal Film which showed in graphic detail everything abut the animal rights movement's concerns - hunting, trapping,
vivisection, slaughterhouses, etc. He noted "I fell apart, I had had no idea about any of this.
I now realized that the torture of the bull I saw was just the tip of the iceberg."

He began to think that he could rationalize all these "horrors" away. But hearing Dr. Tom Regan speak and reading his book -- "The Case for Animal Rights" would prove to be the third transforming and enlightening experience he would have. Diedrich spent months reading Dr. Regan's book -- thinking through every argument, trying to shoot holes in them, but unsuccessfully as it turned out. There was no turning back --this was the third and decisve event that turned him around.

There is much more to this exroardinary man's life who realized that what we do to animals
is not only emotionally devastating but because of Regan's book he found, there was he says "an incredibly logical edifice of argumentation that demolished any argument defending the status quo-calmly and dispassionately. This appealed to my mind. I needed this approach. It was the only level on which I was reachable."

There is so much more to tell about this remarkable man. I am so grateful to all the
people who wrote about him. I will always be pleased that I have that simple letter written by him. I know I must have. I keep everything!