Wolfgang Schindler, born on September 8, 1945, lawyer, founder and president of the Albert Schweitzer Foundation for Our Contemporaries, passed away after a prolonged illness on May 26, 2013 in Bad Wiessee, Germany. With his passing, the animal protection and animal rights movements have lost one of their most dedicated and smartest advocates.
Between 1982 and 1993, Wolfgang Schindler successfully led his own business until he decided to lastingly advocate for altruistic goals in child and particlarly animal protection. He therefore withdrew from the active business, sold his shares of the company and later on founded the Albert Schweitzer Foundation.
Wolfgang Schindler has achieved major results for the protection and rights of animals. The ban on battery cages in Germany, which has by now been implemented to the greatest possible extent, wouldn’t have been possible without his groundbreaking accomplishments as well as his gallantry before the highest judicial authorities and in dealing with powerful corporate entities. With distinctive sharp-wittedness he criticized for instance a decision by the Federal Court of Justice, the highest court in Germany, ruling that the battery cage system wasn’t anticompetitive. His essay “The hen, the egg, and the European cultural order” that was published in the leading German law magazine NJW in 1996 is to date an unforgettable plea for improved animal welfare in our legal system.
A historic proceeding was to follow three years later when he convinced the highest court in Germany to rule the keeping of hens in battery cages unconstitutional. Within this case, the court also decided that animals have to be kept in species-specific conditions – without any exception; a decision that has mostly been ignored by politics to this day.
In 2003, he convinced one of Germany’s biggest supermarket chains, Aldi Nord, to stop selling cage eggs. He thereby lay the groundwork for a campaign that was led by the foundation a few years later and which resulted in practically all major supermarket chains following suit.
Additionally, Wolfgang Schindler placed ads in national newspapers and engaged in political lobbying activities. He always seeked to foster cooperation between animal rights and animal protection organizations and promoted placing an emphasis on common goals.
Not only did Wolfgang Schindler provide financial and priceless personal ressources for the foundation, he also supported other organizations. As a lawyer and jurist, he wrote more than a hundred criminal complaints for animal cruelty cases, supported students that refused to participate in animal testing based on moral objections, led an opposition proceeding before the European Patent Office against the patent of the “oncomouse”, supported the goal “inclusion of animal protection in the constitution”, contributed to popularizing the demand for the right of animal protection organizations to initiate proceedings, and asissted in the publishment of a legal comment on the German Animal Welfare Act.
Wolfgang Schindler took great care early on to ensure the work of the Albert Schweitzer Stiftung for Our Contemporaries would be continued without restriction after his passing.