Is Vienna University’s Recognition of Aryan Antisemitic Students Body Constitutional?: University Re
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Is Vienna University’s Recognition of Aryan Antisemitic Students Body Constitutional?: University Re

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The question whether the student rights conferred some time back by the Academic Senate of Vienna University on the Aryan race antisemitic Students’ Organisation, which does not admit Jewish students to membership, recognising it as the official representative students’ body, is in accordance with the Constitution of the country and the principle of equal rights of all citizens, came up to-day before the Constitutional Court.

The case is attracting a great deal of attention and many distinguished people from abroad were present in court during the hearing, among them Judge Julian W. Mack, of New York, former Professor of Law at the University of Chicago, who has acted for the United States Government as umpire or chairman on a number of important constitutional and legal bodies and who is at present Honorary Chairman of the Zionist Organisation of America.

The Ministry of Education expresses doubt whether the Court has any jurisdiction in the case. Professor Gleispach, the Rector of the University, contested the principle of equal rights, which he said had been exaggerated, since it was proclaimed by the French Revolution. Dr. Klebinder, the editor-in-chief of the “Wiener Allgemeine Zeitung”, who is appearing as the complainant, objected that by conferring students’ rights on the race antisemitic students ‘ Organisation, the University authorities were dividing their students according to races, which is in contradiction to the provisions of the Peace Treaty.

The hearing was concluded to-day, and the court will hand down its decision on Tuesday.

Dr. Czermak, the Minister of Education at the time (there is no Government in Austria at the moment, the Ender Ministry having resigned this week, and no new Government having yet been formed), argued in Parliament last January, in reply to objections by the Social Democratic Party, that the conferment of student rights by the authorities upon any student body does not give it any legal standing, and means nothing more than an internal arrangement in that particular High School by which a particular student body enjoys certain academic privileges inside the High School only. If there is any violation of the law, the Minister said, the Government will not hesitate to step in and put a stop to anything that is found to be contrary to the law.

The present proceedings were started a year ago, in June 1930, soon after the conferment of student rights by the University authorities on the race antisemitic student body. They began with an action brought against the editor-in-chief of the “Wiener Allgemeine Zeitung”, Government Councillor Ernst Klebinder, who is himself a Jew, belonging to the so-called assimilationist group, on account of an article published in his paper, one of the leading dailies of Vienna, vigorously attacking Professor Gleispach, the Rector of the University, and the members of the University Senate for the action they had taken. The action was taken by the State Attorney with the consent of Professor Gleispach and the Senate of the University.


The extent to which Jewish blood has through the wide-spread intermarriage in Vienna entered into the veins of the children and grandchildren of some of the most eminent Professors of Vienna University, even Professors of Theology and such who hold antisemitic views themselves, was one of the chief points made by Herr Klebinder in his speech to the court during the first hearing of the case in June 1930.

I admit that I am the author of the article in question, he said, and I take full responsibility for its contents. Under Article 13 of the Constitution, everyone has the right to express his opinion by word of mouth, in writing or in print, in so far as it does not offend against the law. The student order at Vienna University, is, in my opinion, in conflict with the existing laws, and it does not reflect any credit upon Vienna University. That is my opinion, and that is what I have said in the article. The effect of this student right is to divide the students at Vienna University not into internal and external students, but into Aryan and non-Aryan students. It is a matter of principle. I hold that there is no legal basis for this student right.

Take Eduard Suess, the famous geologist, who found for the people of Vienna our high-spring water, he went on, his children cannot under this order belong to the German Students’ body because Eduard Suess was the son of a Gratz Jewess named Zdekauer. The three brothers Exner, the jurist, the physician, and the physiologist, at one time the pride of our University, had a Jewish mother, whose maiden name was Arnstein, and they would have been barred under the student right order. The same is true of Max, Carl and Anton Menger, for they had a Jewish grandmother. Our greatest legal luminaries, Unger and Glaser, who made Austria’s reputation abroad, married Jewesses, and their children would be barred. Boehm-Bawerk, our great financial lawyer and national economist, was a half-Jew. I shall not speak of Professor Freud, of Schnitzler, of the anatomist Zuckerkandl, or the physician Bamberger, who are themselves Jews. None of their children can be German Aryan students. The same applies to Professors Gruenhut and Schey, Neumann and Oppenheim, whose world-wide fame brings to Vienna still large numbers of people from all over the world who number themselves among their disciples. Even the Nobel prize winner, Wagner-Jauregg, the pride of our country, whose scientific importance is unquestioned and whose discoveries are a blessing to mankind, married a Jewess, and his children would be barred. That is true, too, of the descendants of Billroth, the great Billroth, whose name is still spoken of with awe by all medical men, for his daughter married a Jew named Gottlieb. The former Dean of the Protestant Faculty of Theology, Professor Beth, whose Germanism is not in question, married a Jewess and his children have Jewish blood in them.

Worse still, he continued, the present Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy, Professor Jeger, who is one of my present accusers, is married to a Jewess, and his own children ought to be shut out from the German race students’ body. Can Professor Eiselberg’s children be German students under this order, since his wife is a Sephardic Jewess named Pereira? The late Professor Pirquet and Professor Ranzi, who has just been called to Vienna University, also married Pereira sisters, so that their children, too, have Jewish blood in their veins and would be excluded. Professor Armin, of the Philosophical Faculty, has married his daughter to a Jew, and so his grandchildren will be barred. Professor Obersteiner has married a Jewess named Leidesdorfer.

If we leave the men of academic eminence and turn to the leaders of Austrain public life, Herr Klebinder proceeded, we shall still find that the Minister of Finance, Dr. Kienboeck, cannot get his children admitted into the German Students’ Union, because their mother is Jewish. That is the kind of nonsense you get when you set up the race principle as your criterion. The great standard work of the antisemites, Hauston Stewart Chamberlain’s “Foundations of the Nineteenth Century”, was dedicated by the author to Professor Wiesner, apparently without realising that Professor Wiesner was himself a Jew.

I also contended in my article, Herr Klebinder pursued, that the political views of a University Rector cease to be merely his private views when they stamp the decisions of the Academic Senate of the University, or when the Rector, in his Rectorial speeches and actions becomes a political agitator. The Rector, Professor Dr. Wenzel Gleispach, has engaged in political agitation at public meetings. That is no dishonour, for every man has the right to agitate for his views. But the Rector must then agree that every man has the right to oppose his views.

I am ready to produce proof, Herr Klebinder declared, that after the new students’ order was issued by the Rector, Professor Gleispach, he himself went to the home of Baron Louis de Rothschild to assure him that there was nothing in the new student rights order which was aimed against Jews. If you call Baron Louis de Rothschild he will tell you that at the same time that this order was issued he was approached by the Rector, Professor Gleispach, for contributions to various university institutions. I regard the new student order as a document which is a shame to our generation, and a violation of our Constitution, he concluded, and I call upon the Constitutional Court to hand down its decision that the new student order is in conflict with our laws.

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