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The Growing Numerus Clausus Peril in Germany

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The danger of the growing numerus clausus movement in Germany is the subject of a long article appearing in the official organ of the Central Union of German Citizens of the Jewish Faith, the “C. V. Zeitung”, written by Walter Borchardt.

A whole series of numerus clausus resolutions were adopted during 1929, he begins. The General Student Organisation in Berlin, the students’ organisation of Erlangen University, which still enjoys State recognition, and the students’ organisation at Wuerzburg University, all adopted resolutions demanding the enforcement of a numerus clausus against Jewish and alien students, not on the ground of religion but of race. The number of numerus clausus resolutions has increased to a large extent of late. The Students Committee at Leipzig University has by 20 votes against six with six abstentions adopted a resolution demanding that the academic authorities should make it impossible for foreigners, especially from Hungary and Roumania, who are prevented from completing their studies in their own countries to become students in Germany. The Wuerzburg Students’ Committee has demanded the enforcement of a numerus clausus against students of the Jewish race at all German high schools. The Committee of the Rostock Students’ Organisation has adopted a similarly worded resolution. The Students’ Committee at the University of Giessen has also adopted a resolution which urges that in view of the overcrowding of the professions, which means the displacement of Germans by Jews, a numerus clausus should be enforced at all High Schools against students of the Jewish race. The Minister of Education for the State of Hessen spoke against this resolution in the Diet, but the officially recognised students’ body at Giessen has not been dissolved. Numerus clausus decisions have also been adopted by the students of the technical high schools of Munich, Karlsruhe and Charlottenburg, the Mining High School of Freiberg, in Saxony, and the Engineering School in Weimar.

In February 1929, the article points out, the Central Committee of the German Students’ body adopted a resolution declaring that it was a violation of the Constitution of the German Students’ Organisation to bring up the question of a numerus clausus. Since then, things have changed. The rising tide of Hitlerism among the students, which resulted in the return of Hitlerists to the various student committees in the last elections, is pushing back the more moderate elements, and the Central Committee of the German Students’ Organisation has now adopted a resolution of an entirely different character, which says that the affiliated students’ organisations should make a scientific enquiry into the problem of the numerus clausus on the basis of Germanism, which the writer says means in reality nothing more than the recognition of the Nationalist ideology. It is only a question of time, Herr Borchardt remarks, before the leaders of the German students side officially with the Hitlerists.

The extent of the numerus clausus movement must not be overestimated, he concludes, but its development is a grave danger to the future of German Jewry. Hitlerism as a political movement will be played out as soon as the political and economic situation improve, but Hitlerism as a spiritual movement will survive long after the death of political Hitlerism, because it will have become part of the mental discipline of the students. Here lies one of the most difficult problems of German Jewry, one with which we must get to grips if we are going to keep our place in German life.

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