Count Albert Apponyi, the Grand Old Man of Hungary, who died in Geneva on February 7th at the age of 87, came into contact repeatedly with Jews and the Jewish question in the course of his long career as a leading Hungarian politician and statesman, particularly as the chief Hungarian delegate to the League of Nations.
His frequent demands at the League of Nations to restrict minority rights as incompatible with the dignity of a sovereign State often claimed the attention of the Jewish bodies concerned with the protection of minority rights, like the Joint Foreign Committee, the Committee of Jewish Delegations, the American Jewish Committee, the American Jewish Congress, and others.
The Council of the League of Nations is nothing more than the Governments which compose it, he urged. Subjects of a country who were dissatisfied with administration or other activities in their country should appeal to the courts of law of their country. The welfare of the minorities was a matter of the internal policy of a country, he contended, and could be best secured by mutual agreement and the application of the principles of political, economic, social and legal equality and not by intervention or pressure outside.
His attitude to Jews was most friendly, however, and he was regarded as a liberal in internal policy. He also expressed himself favorably towards the Jewish work in Palestine and at the time of the Palestine outbreak in 1929 he expressed his sympathy at the League of Nations Assembly and elsewhere with the Jewish victims.
In an interview with the J.T.A. some years back on the position of the Jews in Hungary he expressed his conviction that anti-Semitism in Hungary, which had expressed itself so violently during the White Terror, was dying down and would soon cease to exist.
The anti-Semitic movement was only a reaction, he said, to the fact that the Bolshevist Revolution, which did so much harm to Hungary, had a number of Jews among its leaders. People lost sight of the fact that not all Jews were supporters of the Bolshevist Revolution. But if Catholics had been so prominent among the leaders, the reaction would have been as great as against the Jews. Now anti-Semitism has almost entirely disappeared in Hungary. The Awakening Magyars were at first a good thing, he went on. They were the bulwark against Bolshevism, but later they degenerated into merely an anti-Semitic group, which