6 Numerus clausus against the Jews
How national policies wanted
quotas according to the population proportion - and the
Numerus clausus; In: Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971, vol. 12
presented by Michael Palomino (2007)
Numerus clausus against
Jews in Hungary
1920: Loyalty law and proportion law for universities -
Jews have to study abroad - Jews beaten]
Hungary. Restrictions affecting the admission of
Jewish students into the institutions of higher learning in
Hungary were passed as a law in 1920. This laid down that no
new students should be accepted in the universities unless
they were "loyal from the national and moral standpoint",
that "the proportion of members of the various ethnic and
national groups in the total number of students should
amount to the proportion of such ethnic and national groups
in the total population."
According to the official ground for this enactment, the law
was intended to prevent a surplus of persons in the liberal
professions, which the dismembered country was unable to
integrate. But it was clear that the law was directed
against the Jews only.
The leaders of the *Neologists in Hungarian Jewry who
considered the law a severe blow to Jewish equal rights, as
well as the liberal opposition and especially its Jewish
representatives attempted to combat the law, but without
success. Jewish students who were not admitted to
institutions of higher learning were forced to go abroad to
study in Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Italy, France,
and Belgium. The Jewish students who were admitted despite
the restrictions were often insulted and sometimes beaten up
by the non-Jewish students, whose "ideal" was to achieve a
organizations abroad struggle against the loyalty and
proportion law - new law in 1928]
Outside Hungary a number of Jewish organizations initiated a
struggle against the law on the international level in 1921,
basing their claims on the peace treaty of Trianon, in which
Hungary had guaranteed that all its citizens should "be
equal before the law ... without distinction of race,
language, or religion." The Jewish organizations sent a
petition based on these lines to the *League of Nations.
However, the official leadership of Hungarian Jewry
refrained from cooperating with these Jewish organizations.
Nevertheless the international Jewish organizations received
support from Jews in Hungary as well as from the Hungarian
Jewish students studying abroad. (col. 1268)
The Hungarian government, when asked by the League of
Nations to supply information concerning this question,
avoided the issue by providing statistical data showing that
the Jews were not discriminated against by this law.
In 1925 the Joint Foreign Committee and the Alliance
Israélite Universelle, fearing that other countries would
adopt the numerus clausus, appealed to the Permanent Court
of International Justice.
This time Hungary was compelled to give a relevant answer.
The Hungarian minister of education claimed in 1927 that the
law was merely temporary, arising from Hungary's difficult
situation, and undertook that the law would shortly be
amended. When the amendment was not forthcoming Hungary was
asked to hasten the procedure, and in 1928 the bill was
submitted to the Hungarian parliament.
According to this amendment racial criteria in admitting new
students were removed and replaced by social criteria. Five
categories were set up: civil servants, war veterans and
army officers, small landowners and artisans,
industrialists, and the merchant classes. The result was
much the same. According to the new socioeconomic criteria
the Jews had approximately the same status as before.
The theoretically nonracial character of the amended law was
a temptation to convert to Christianity. Indeed many Jews
did so, like their predecessors of an earlier period, for
the sake of office. The numerus clausus remained in force
despite the protests of Jews and liberals.
Racial discrimination law against Jewish students]
By the second anti-Jewish law passed in 1939 the admission
of new students was again put on a racial and not a
confessional basis. Students of the rabbinical seminary were
exempted from the law's application, since according to the
government regulations of this institution its students
required a doctorate in philosophy in order to obtain their
rabbinical diploma, and were restricted in their choice of
subject to oriental studies and philosophy. The Hungarian
constituent national assembly which convened in Debrecen in
December 1944 abolished the numerus clausus among the rest
of the discriminatory racial legislation.
[B.Y.]> (col. 1269)
-- N. Katzburg, in: Sefer ha-Shanah shel Universitat Bar
Ilan, 4-5 (1956-65), 270-88 (with an English summary)
-- The Jewish Minority in Hungary. Report by the Secretary
and Special Delegate of the Joint Foreign Committee ...
(1926)> (col. 1270)
clausus, vol. 12, col. 1267-1268
clausus, vol. 12, col. 1269-1270