

from: Numerus clausus; In: Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971, vol. 12
presented by Michael Palomino (2007)
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Numerus clausus against Jews in Poland
[Figures of Jewish students in Poland 19211939]
<In Poland. The numerus clausus was one of the manifestations of the widespread antiSemitism in Poland between the two world wars. the Polish government made use of the numerus clausus as a quasilegal means to limit the number of Jewish students in the institutions of higher (col. 1266)
education to the minimum. The total number of students in Poland increased continuously between 1920 and 1935. From 34,266 students in 192122, it rose to 47,200 in 193536. In the same period both the number of Jewish students and their proportion in the total declined. In 192021 there were 8,526 Jewish students in Poland; in 192324 their number reached its peak figure of 9,579; but in 193536 their number dropped to 6,200, i.e., a decrease of about 35%. The proportion of Jewish students in the total number of students was 24.6% in 192122, 20% in 192829, and only 13.2% in 193536.
The results of the numerus clausus are especially instructive if the fluctuations in the number of Jewish students in the various faculties are noted. The most striking instance is the faculty of medicine. In 192324 there were still 1,402 Jewish medical students, forming 30.2% of the total. In 192627 their number dropped to 698 (18.6%) and in 193536 Jewish medical students formed only 13.8% of the total number. In the faculty of law their percentage in 192324 was 24.6%, while in 193536 it was only 12.5%.
In the humanities the numbers for the corresponding years were 35.4% and 18.3%, and in the faculty of chemistry 25% and 12%. This tendency to a continuous decrease in the number of Jewish students in all faculties, especially in the professions of medicine, law, and engineering, was an outcome of the numerus clausus policy. It hindered the admission of Jewish students to the institutions of higher education, although the number of Jewish applicants increased in Poland and a growing number of Jewish youths wished to enter academic professions.
In Poland up to World War II there were 14 state institutions of higher education, and nine nongovernmental (e.g., the Catholic University in Lublin; commercial colleges in Warsaw, Cracow, Lvov, Lodz, etc.). Almost all of these institutions applied the numerus clausus as the leading criterion in admitting new students, though some applied it more strictly than others. In the University of Lvov, for instance, the Jewish students comprised 46.6% of the total number of students in 192122, while in 193031 (there are no statistical data for later years) they comprised only 31.9%; in the University of Warsaw the figures for the corresponding years were 31.4% and 23.8%; in the Warsaw Polytechnic 15.5% and 10.2%; in the Veterinary College in Lvov 13% and 5.4%; and in the Institute of Dentistry, 70.4% and 19.7%.
the proportion of females among Jewish students throughout this period was higher than that among nonJewish students. The percentage of Jewish females was 33.3% in 192324 and 39% in 193031, while the numbers among nonJews for these years were 15% and 26%.
[Jewish female students often leave the university before graduating]
The authorities of the academic institutions were more willing to admit Jewish female students than Jewish males, since many left the universities before graduating. Another reason for not strictly applying the numerus clausus toward Jewish women was that the majority studied in the faculty of humanities (philosophy, history, literature), instead of the more demanding professions. Thus, for instance, in 193031, 50% of the male students studies law; 11% medicine; 16.4% philosophy; and 14.6% sciences, while 11% of the female students studied law; 3.4% medicine; 63.2% philosophy; and 1.7% sciences.
[since 1936 approx.: The system of Jewish benches]
In the last few years preceding World War II the authorities took even stronger discriminatory measures against the Jewish students. They introduced the system of "Jewish benches", which allocated special benches at the back of the auditoriums and classrooms to be used only by Jews. The Jewish students revolted against these regulations and refused to sit there. This frequently led to serious clashes in the universities, resulting in bloodshed and tragedy.
[SHA.L.]> (col. 1267)
<Bibliography
POLAND:
 S. Langnas: Zydzi a studja akademickie w Polsce (1933)
 M. Mirkin, in: Yidishe Ekonomik, 1 (1938), 2726
 Polscki Rocznik statystyczny (192138)> (col. 1270)
Sources
Encyclopaedia Judaica: Numerus clausus, vol. 12, col. 12651266
Encyclopaedia Judaica: Numerus clausus, vol. 12, col. 12671268
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