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Encyclopaedia Judaica

6  Numerus clausus against the Jews in Hungary

How national policies wanted quotas according to the population proportion - and the effects
from: Numerus clausus; In: Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971, vol. 12

presented by Michael Palomino (2007)

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Numerus clausus against Jews in Hungary

[since 1920: Loyalty law and proportion law for universities - Jews have to study abroad - Jews beaten]

<In 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", and

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 "numerus nullus".

[Jewish 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.

[1939-1944: 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)


<Bibliography

HUNGARY:
-- 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)

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Sources
Encyclopaedia Judaica: Numerus clausus, vol.
                      12, col. 1267-1268
vergrössernEncyclopaedia Judaica: Numerus clausus, vol. 12, col. 1267-1268
Encyclopaedia Judaica: Numerus clausus, vol.
                      12, col. 1269-1270
vergrössernEncyclopaedia Judaica: Numerus clausus, vol. 12, col. 1269-1270


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