(By Our Budapest Correspondent, A. Wiener)
The Hungarian mountain labored and gave birth to a mouse. This characterization is admirably befitting to the latest move of the Hungarian Minister of Education, Count Klebelsberg. I am referring to his instructions regarding the modification of the numerus clausus.
For some three months now a general campaign has been in progress in this country against the disgraceful, anti-Semitic numerus clausus law. Among those who have taken a hand in this campaign are a number of influential Christians, including former government ministers. This general denunciation of the outrageous discriminatory measure by Jews and non-Jews has been given a psychological impetus by the several cases recently of suicide on the part of Jewish students owing to the operation of the numerus clausus.
Then again, the necessity of a foreign loan, became very keen at this time. The London Rothschilds, reports had it, declared that they were prepared to furnish a loan. In Jewish circles in Hungary it was rumored that the Hungarian Minister of Finance had promised in London that the numerus clausus would be abolished and that anti-Semitism of government officials would be drastically suppressed.
In addition, this year’s plenary session of the League of Nations was opened in Geneva, and the Hungarian governments feared lest the numerus clausus question be brought up again before the League. On this occasion Hungary would have had a much less comfortable time of it before the League, because Hungarian Jewry deeply regrets its step of last year in opposing intervention by foreign Jewish organizations in Geneva. The Hungarian Jews are not only sorry for last year, lately they have even threatened the government that they may themselves bring a direct complaint before the League.
Moreover, it so happened that Mr. Jacob Landau, director of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, arrived here recently from America and embarked at once on an extensive inquiry regarding the numerus clausus. Mr. Landau interviewed all the responsible leaders of Hungarian Jewry as well as the most important figures among the Hungarian Christians. He also spoke with some ex-Ministers and had several lengthy conversations with Count Klebelsberg himself, to whom he made strong intimations regarding an extensive report on the question in the American press.
And yet, despite all these facts and notwithstanding Hungary’s fear of America, a mouse was born, and what a mouse! an ugly, loathsome mouse.
The numerus clausus law remains intact. Count Klebelsberg has merely issued instructions to the deans of the Hungarian universities as to how the legal numerus clausus is to be enforced in the future. First. Jewish converts to Christianity are not to be counted in the Jewish quota, and secondly, the 5 percent of Jewish students are not to be determined in proportion to the actual number of Christian students at each university but in proportion to the general number of Christian students in the Hungarian universities.
What does this signify? It means that until now there were two kinds of numerus clausus in force, a practical one and a legal one, and now only the legal one will continue in force; that until now, converts were counted as Jews, whereas now they will be counted as Christians. Well, and what if Jewish students will become converts for the school year in order to enter the University? Oh, no! On the very next day Count Klebelsberg issued a third order that before acquiring the privilege of being counted as a Christian one must be a convert for at least one year. Klebelsberg issued this strange order because the “Race Purifiers” raised a howl: why, they screamed, all the Jewish students will adopt Christianity in order to enter the universities and upon graduation they will return to Judaism!
The meaning of the second instruction is this, in effect: many Christian students in Hungary are lazy, do not pursue their studies and frequently sign out after registering; hence the Jewish quota fell almost to zero in certain departments. Let us say, 500 Christians registered in the philosophy department, this gave the Jews a quota of 25. As a matter of fact, however, only 200 Christians remained, and the Jewish quota dropped to 10, the majority of these being converts. In certain departments the Jewish quota turned out to be half a Jew, that is — no Jew (according to the new order converts will continue to be counted as Jews for the first year).
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.