Warsaw (Oct. 29)
Cracow University has been closed down, following a new outburst of anti-Jewish fighting at the Medical Faculty, over the demand of the Nationalist students that the Jewish medical students should not be allowed to dissect Christian corpses, and should be compelled to provide Jewish corpses for the dissection rooms. The students also demand the enforcement of a rigorous numerus clausus against the Jewish the students. Many Jewish students were driven out of the University.
A delegation of Jewish students who wanted to visit the Rector to ask for his protection found their way barred by antisemitic students, and they were compelled to turn back.
The antisemitic students then held a meeting, at which it was decided to march on the Jewish Student Home, but the police dispersed the demonstrators. The Jewish Student Home and the offices of the Jewish Polish-language daily “Nowy Dziennik” are being strongly guarded by police.
The University Senate has called a meeting of its disciplinary Commission to deal with the situation. The authorities state that they are determined not to permit any further disturbances.
The Jewish students have held a meeting at which they have adopted a resolution declaring that they will not surrender their right of freedom of education and that they will stand firm to defend the honour of the Jewish students.
Cracow University has several times been the scene of anti-Jewish student disturbances within the last few years. They were particularly severe in November 1929 when a crowd of about 150 Polish students attacked a group of Jewish students outside the University building and beat two of them senseless. Police mounted and on foot had to be called in to disperse the hooligans. The students then held a meeting at which resolutions were adopted demanding the enforcement of a numerus clausus against the Jewish students, and the barring of Jewish students from the dissecting rooms.
The trouble became so serious at that time that the Minister of Education telephoned from Warsaw instructing the Rector to close down Cracow University for six months if the anti-Jewish demonstrations continued.
The University Senate endeavoured, however, to keep the University open and tried to quell the disturbances in other ways, and finally, after about a fortnight, the trouble stopped, and the normal work of the University was resumed. In between, however, the Polish Students’ Union held a big meeting, at which it demanded a numerus clausus against the Jews, the compulsory supply of Jewish corpses for the dissecting rooms, and the closing down of Jewish student organisations. The lecture rooms were several times broken into by antisemitic students while lectures were in progress, and the Jewish students were ejected. About a score of antisemitic young men, armed with cudgels, broke into the editorial offices of the Polish Jewish daily “Nasz Przeglad”, injured numbers of the staff, and did a great deal of damage to the furniture before the police arrived. The offices of the paper were then placed under strong police guard.
In Warsaw the Central Committee of the Jewish Students Organisation in Poland, held a meeting at which it protested against the anti-Jewish disturbances in Cracow, and declared that the Jewish students are determined not to relinquish their right to education.
Even after Cracow University was reopened, the situation was still giving the Government considerable anxiety, and the Minister of Education issued a circular note to the Senates of all the Universities in the country, pointing out that the Government was very uneasy over the situation at the Universities, and urging the Rectors to exercise particular care in watching the activities of the Students’ Organisations in order to prevent further disturbances.
The question of the provision of corpses for the dissecting rooms was also raised at that time by the Christian students at the Medical Faculty of Warsaw University, who, too, demanded the enforcement of a numerus clausus against the Jewish students and the compulsory provision of Jewish corpses for the use of the Jewish students in the dissecting rooms. The Dean replied to the students that the resolution concerned a political matter which was not within the province of a Student’s Organisation, whose object it is to confine itself to questions of education, and this was the end of the matter for the time being.
The agitation over the demand for Jewish corpses for the dissecting rooms, which has been going on for years, and has led to many anti-Jewish outbreaks at all the universities in Poland, continued, however, to cause anxiety to the leaders of Jewish public opinion, and Deputy Wygodsky visited the Minister of Education, to urge him to do something to regulate this question by means of legislation.
The Minister of Education promised Deputy Wygodsky that the question of Jewish corpses would be settled once and for all, because it was perpetuating the state of unrest at the Universities and was constantly leading to clashes between Jewish and non-Jewish students. He suggested that it might be advisable for the Rabbis to exert their influence that Jewish corpses should be supplied to the dissecting rooms, but Deputy Wygodsky explained to him that it was impossible to expect the Rabbis to do this, and that, besides, the question of supplying corpses for the dissecting rooms was one for legislative action and not for voluntary effort. If the University authorities had wished, he said, the question would have been settled long ago. The corpses question was only a pretext for antisemitic students to indulge in anti-Jewish excesses, and the Government should take measures to get rid of these pretexts.
Under a regulation made in 1926, hospitals were required to give up for dissection purposes the bodies of all inmates who were not claimed by relatives within 24 hours after death. The Rabbinate sent out an appeal to all Jews, urging them to claim the bodies of their relatives, so that they should not be presumed to have died without kin, and handed over for dissection. Nevertheless, despite constant appeals by Jewish medical students that it should be carried into effect, the order has remained on the files of the Ministry, without any attempt to enforce it.
The Organisation of Jewish students has several times sent deputations to the Government, urging that this order should be carried into force as speedily as possible, because it provides the only way of getting over the difficulty of the question of the supply of corpses for the dissecting rooms.
Professor Bartel, a former Premier and Minister of Education, declared a few years ago that he was in complete agreement with a statement made by ex-Deputy Farbstein, then President of the Warsaw Jewish Community, that the duty of providing corpses for the dissecting rooms was one for the University authorities, not for the students, who were not required to supply the corpses necessary for their medical training. In 1929 the Jewish Deputies put a motion in Parliament that a central office should be opened in Warsaw to buy corpses for distributing to the Medical Faculties of all the Universities, but the motion was defeated by a majority of Deputies of the Government Party and the Right.