Austria Presses ‘ghetto School’ Plan for Jews
Menu JTA Search

Austria Presses ‘ghetto School’ Plan for Jews

Download PDF for this date

Far from relinquishing its avowed intention of separating Jewish and non-Jewish school children in the Austrian school system, the government of Kurt Schuschnigg is proceeding even further and placing the children of Jewish converts to Christianity in ghetto schools.

The law creating the ghetto schools has met with the sharpest opposition from the Jewish community, which was taken completely by surprise when the measure was introduced. Jewish groups in Austria are unanimous in their opposition to the introduction of a school system based on the Nazi “Aryan paragraph.”


Originally the law was designed to: “collect non-Catholic pupils into one parallel subdivision.” In practice, however, Catholic and Protestant children remain in the same schools, and only the Jewish children are segregated. The decree, according to officials, was to apply only to secondary schools and to teachers’ seminaries, but again in practice the law is applied also to primary and higher primary schools.

The degree of shock to Jewish organizations by the new ghetto school law is best seen in a proclamation issued by the executive body of the Vienna Jewish community:

“Already in June of this year, rumors were afoot about plans to create parallel classes based on religious viewpoints,” the statement declared. “Thereupon on June 20, the executive committee of the Vienna Jewish community had an intervie with the present Chancellor, Dr. Kurt Schuschnigg, at that time Minister of Education. The delegation drew Dr. Schuschnigg’s attention to the serious consequences which must result from a segregation of Jewish pupils.


“After its presentation of the case, the executive committee was convinced that the authorities would not proceed with their segregation plans.

“The decree of the Ministry of Education on this subject, dated on July 4, was published in the official gazette of the municipal school council on September 15, just before schools opened. Only in this fashion did the law become known to the executive of the Jewish community. Thus the community was faced with an accomplished fact.”

Stimme, organ of the Austrian Zionists, said editorially: “Actually a school ghetto has been introduced. The decree means nothing less and thousands of Jewish parents look at it this way.

“We are of the opinion that even practical considerations should make it desirable for the government to avoid humiliating Jewish children. If it is contended that through the decree the desire for schools according to religions is satisfied, then the present decree is not the way to achieve this purpose.

“Austrian Judaism certainly has a moral interest, and according to the treaty of St. Germain, a material right to look after the education of its children. But this necessitates the establishment of Jewish schools, with Jewish curricula, Jewish principals and Jewish teachers.

“The decree of the Ministry of Education, however, has nothing to do with such Jewish schools. The teaching in the schools organized under the decree is the same as in any other school. The spirit of the decree means clearly and simply the isolation of the Jews.”

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund