BUDAPEST (May. 13)
The sweeping anti-Jewish legislation just passed by the Lower House of the Hungarian Parliament is one of the first fruits of Hitler’s conquest of Austria which brought its Hungarian neighbor irretrievably within the Nazi sphere. The Nazification of Austria has given tremendous encouragement to the National-Socialist forces in Hungary and has made the position of the Government Party – the Party of National Unity – an extremely difficult one. The party itself is divided between oldline Liberals and radicals who really belong in the Rightist Opposition.
Unable to check the agitation of the Nazis which threatened to shake the stability of the country, the Government Party, emulating King Carol of Rumania, is now attempting it does not feel strong enough to move against the big landowners and industrialists, it has taken up the Nazi anti-Jewish program and presented it in modified form to the country as its own.
According to ex-Premier Daranyi’s explanations, it has been necessary for the Government to act to regulate the Jewish question because the Jews have, in the past nine years “gradually encroached upon the entire economic life of the country and occupied all the most important posts.” While the standard of living of Hungarians has dropped, the Government asserts, that of the Jews has improved and the Government has “the urgent duty to solve this problem in a radical manner so as to restore the disturbed equilibrium.”
It is difficult, however, to find in this statement the motivation for the prohibition of schechita, (the slaughter of animals according to religious precepts) which was unexpectedly put into force in Hungary this month. No claim was made, as it was in Poland, that the Jews had a monopoly on the cattle industry and meat trade, and economically, the prohibition affects Hungarian cattle-raisers adversely, since they lose a market for some 20,000 head of cattle annually.
The anti-Jewish bill differs from the German model in that the discrimination against the Jews is not based on race but on religion. Any Jew baptized before August 1, 1919, is considered a Christian and is not affected by the anti-Jewish measures.
The Daranyi measure in general is an extension of the old numerous clauses system followed for so many years in Hungarian educational institutions. In addition to the 20% quota in economic and cultural spheres, it is expected that Jews will be eliminated from the State and public services. The municipality of Budapest has already enacted legislation limiting the granting of public contracts to Jews to the proportion of Jews to the general population.
Conservative estimates place the number of Jews who will lose employment under the Daranyi legislation at about 15,000.
Hungarian Jews have raised a sharp protest against the proposed laws which strike at the equality of rights granted them under the Hungarian Constitution of 1867 and guaranteed by the Treaty of Trianon signed by Hungary after the World War. They point out that since the law exempts Jews who have become baptized before 1919, it penalizes those Jews who have remained true to the religious faith.