However conservative its authors may have thought it, Hungary’s experiment in anti-Semitism – the new 20 per cent restriction law – is producing radical results in a short time. only four months old, the law has already deprived some 1,000 Jews of their means of livelihood, while the administrative acts which have followed it. indicate clearly that the government intends to follow a policy of strict enforcement.
Whether the law will prove popular to Hungarians as a whole, it is too soon to say. Its complicated provisions have not yet been fully worked out in detail and its impact on the general economic situation, in contrast to the Jewish situation, is not likely to be realized for several years. it is certain, however, that many hungarian employers in the retail clothing or tailoring trades, where Jewish workers are predominant, do not enjoy the necessity of lopping off their payrolls Jewish employees who have served them faithfully for many years.
Throughout Budapest the business of pruning Jews from pay-rolls is proceeding apace. The 20 per cent maximum of Jewish employees allowed to each establishment with more than ten workers is to be reached in ten successive half-year stages, the first stage ending Dec. 31 of this year.
Some of the dismissed employees have already sought to open establishments of their own in fields where Jewish participation is less than 20 per cent. in this, however, they have been blocked by the government’s refusal to grant them the necessary business licenses. It is not yet clear whether this refusal is temporary or permanent. In all likelihood the authorities are anxious to prevent the Jews from gaining any new footholds until the chambers of industry and commerce, under which many of the provisions of the law will be administered, are fully organized and at work.
The Government’s zeal for strict enforcement has 3een shown in other ways. The law provides, for instance, that the chamber of physicians, as well as the chambers of law and engineering, shall limit new Jewish membership to 5 per cent yearly until the Jewish proportion of Jewish .”employed” doctors in Budapest that is, doctors working for the Government, insurance companies etc. constitute only ii per cent of the total in that class, while Jewish private physicians number more than 80 per cent. The general average of Jews among Budapest physicians, therefore, is 47 per cent. But the Government has decided to treat the two classes separately; the number of Jewish private physicians will be reduced to 20 per cent, but no one believes that the proportion of Jews in the “employed” class will correspondingly be permitted to rise to the full 20 per cent.
This is, of course, from the Jewish point of view, one of the worst phases of the whole experiment. it is undeniably true that in many individual trades or professions Jews have a very large foothold. but there is no indication that the occupations in which they are comparatively scarce will prove willing to absorb them. the law is not a matter of chopping Jews off here and adding them there; it is simply withdrawing a large fraction of them entirely from the economic life of the nation.
Despite this, the Jewish community is going ahead with an ambitious program for retraining the dismissed workers and for the vocational training of the 2,000 Jewish young people who graduate from the Hungarian i an schools yearly and whose economic future, at this juncture, is in jeopardy. in the Jewish high school in Budapest, vocational classes for young men and women are being created to supplement the regular academic work.