J.T.A. Staff Correspondent
Prof. Lugmayer, who is in charge of the educational department of the Vienna city administration, has granted this correspondent an interview on the question of the Jews in Vienna in which he made interesting comment on the relations of Jews and non-Jews in Austria and explained his views with regard to an autonomous Jewish school system.
“I see Judaism as a religious community which will probably exist as long as the Christian religious communities,” Dr. Lugmayer declared. “The fact of the assimilation of Jews to the non-Jewish world is not to be disputed, and least of all by me, rejecting as I do absolutely the National Socialist blood theory. But assimilation is much too slow a process, and taking it at large, it is only a manifestation on the rim of things which does not penetrate to the core of the people.
“I See the future of the Jews, on the contrary, in a religious intensification which can also lead to a more peaceful spiritual relationship between Jews and Christians. Spiritual differences between Jews and Christians, if we put aside the Middle Ages which cannot be compared with our own day, have frequently arisen, because liberal and irreligious Jews have interfered for purely worldly reasons in Christian religious questions, such as the Catholic divorce question. If such difficulties are eliminated by a greater religious sentiment among the Jews, the sources of friction between Jews and Christians will automatically diminish.
“I am in favor of the development of Jewish cultural autonomy, while, of course, safeguarding the positive attitude towards the fatherland. There are in the Jewish Community certain beginnings for cultural autonomy which should be extended. A completely autonomous Jewish school system should be created which should be independently administered by the Jews, just as all purely cultural matters affecting Judaism should be conducted by the Jews themselves.
“In order to avoid any misunderstanding, I want to say immediately that I do not demand an independent Jewish school system, because I fear that the Jewish children exercise an unfavorable influence upon the non-Jewish children. My many years of experience as a teacher and professor in the Vienna high schools, with a large Jewish body of students, utterly contradict this idea. But I consider that the Jews have a right to their own autonomous school system.
“I consider the introduction of Jewish parallel classes without Jewish instruction as without purpose. On the contrary, there should be an autonomous Jewish school system from the elementary school to the university, even if a Jewish university cannot be created in each State, but perhaps in one State for the whole of Central Europe. For technical reasons, there will also have to be certain compromises in those places in the provinces where the number of Jews is slight.
“I Have already stated on an-another occasion that I am for the expansion of the Jewish vocational structure by opening agricultural and industrial activities to Jews. We must admit, however, that there are certain professions in which the Jews through generations of selection have acquired greater skill, as in medicine, in which there will always be a comparatively large number of Jews. The transfer of Jews to the manual occupations should not be forced by making it difficult for them to study. I want to warn in particular against making it difficult for them to attend the higher schools. I am not yet certain whether it would not be better both for Christians and Jews to start teaching a trade not at the early age of fourteen, but to hold it back for two or three years, when the child is able to show an inclination for his future occupation.
“These views, with regard to the spiritual relations between Jews and Christians, must be made clear not only to the Jews, but also to the Christians. I would therefore very much welcome discussion on the matter between the spiritual representatives on both sides.
“Of Course,” he continued, there can be no question of putting the citizenship equality of rights of the Jews to discussion. The citizenship rights of the Jews are, like those of the Christians, not to be touched and outside all discussion. Nor can there be any question of conversionist efforts. These discussions should be confined only to bringing about an understanding between Jews and Christians in our day, so that they should be able to understand each other and not make reproaches against each other on the basis of recriminations out of the historic past, such as the medieval persecution on the one hand and the appearance of Christ on the other.
“The international relations of the Jews, in my opinion, constitute no obstacle to the love of the fatherland. These relations, on the contrary, may be an advantage to the fatherland in which the respective Jewish groups live, and this very often happens.
“I am of the opinion that the Jews can live freely not only in the Liberal, but also in the Christian states in the same way as Christians can in non-Christian states, like in Japan. I hope that a spiritual conciliation between Jews and Christians will in the future become a fact, and I expect such a development as a result of the priority of spiritual values.”