by the complete ruin of the middle classes, whose money was principally invested in Government Bonds, mortgages, and other shares which lost all their value during the period of inflation. This was the origin of numerus clausus.
Incidentally, it was the present Premier, M. Goemboes, at that time the leader of the anti-Semitic Race Protectors’ League, who, while Count Klebelsberg was being attacked by the Jewish Deputies and the representatives of liberal opinion for the anti-Semitic attitude, attacked Count Klebelsberg for his alleged leniency towards the Jews, and accused him in Parliament of evading the provisions of the numerus clausus law in favor of the Jewish students. The Jews, he said, must be kept severely within the bounds of the law, and no exceptions should be made in their favor.
The numerus clausus law in Hungary has since been modified but it has been pointed out in Parliament that even this amended and more liberal numerus clausus law allows for only seven per cent of Jewish students in Budapest, where the proportion of the Jewish population is 20 percent of the total.
To this complaint, the answer of Count Klebelsberg as Minister of Education, was that the numerus clausus could be abolished only gradually, and that any attempt to do away with it at one stroke would be impracticable, and would only rouse the impassioned opposition of the Christian students and their friends. A gradual abolition of the numerus clausus, carried out step by step, he said, is much more useful than would be a hurried measure seeking to abolish it at one stroke.
No one knows, he proceeded, what a fight was necessary before the religious paragraph in the numerus clausus law was removed. The numbers of Jewish students would also have been increased, he claimed, had the Opposition been more moderate and things would have gone much more smoothly.
By 1928, Count Klebelsberg’s position on the Jewish question and the numerus clausus had undergfone a change, and in that year, when he initiated the movement which resulted in the modification of the numerus clausus law, he declared that the numerus clausus had done more harm than good to Hungary, acting like a back-firing rifle.
It had ranged the great world press and international opinion against Hungary, he said, and the regularly recurring attacks upon the Jews at the Hungarian High Schools had added to the force of the anti-Hungarian voices abroad. A further consequence, he went on, is that we make no progress with our complaints to the League of Nations, against the oppression of the Hungarian minorities in the new States. Whenever we complain of the treatment of the Hungarian minorities, we are reminded of our anti-Jewish laws.
Last year, when he was still in office as Minister of Education, Count Klebelsberg figured in a remarkable scene in Parliament, when he suddenly rounded on Deputy Rassay, the leader of the Liberal Party, who was complaining that his modified numerus clausus law, which is still in force now, was keeping intending students out of the universities. He jumped to his feet excitedly and shouted:
“I opposed it more than you did. You actually drafted a motion on the subject. I never brought it up against you before, but I must remind you now that you were one of the prime movers in bringing the numerus clausus about. I did not vote on the numerus clausus law.”
“That is a very bold statement,” Deputy Rassay retorted. “You exploited the numerus clausus law for propaganda purposes. I do not deny that in 1920 I adhered to the Christian policy, and that my party prepared the motion on this question. I have the moral strength, however, to have fought against the numerus clausus law ten years later, while you, Count Klebelsberg, posed in Liberal circles as an opponent of the law, and in Christian circles as a friend.”