To the long list of states and countries, which have recently persisted in an attempt to abolish schechita, the name of the principality of Liechtenstein can now be added. While an examination of the map of Europe will fail to disclose the position of Liechtenstein, it exists nevertheless on the boundary line between Austria and Switzerland. Its entire area is 159 kilometers, while its population is 11,000 all told. Its principal city has a total of 1,402 inhabitants. Liechtenstein has the further distinction of being the first state refused admittance to the League of Nations. What comfort there is in it, it can draw from the fact that it shares the same fate as other European states such as Monaco and San Moreno.
In the little state of Liechtenstein, a bitter campaign is now being waged against schechita, the Jewish method of slaughtering animals for food, and an effort is on fool to enact that opposition into law.
More than a month ago a petition signed by 724 citizens and purporting to be an expression of the popular will was submitted to the government requesting the prohibition of schechita. According to the constitution, the “Landtag” is required to pass on the question within two months. The “Landtag” has vetoed the proposal with the result that the question will be submitted to a referendum and the people of Liechtenstein will have to decide whether or not schechita, the practice of the ancient Jewish people is more cruel than other methods of slaughtering animals for food.
While the number of Jews who live in the cities of Liechtenstein cannot accurately be estimated, it is certain that the whole question of schechita, the referendum which it has precipitated and the storm it has aroused can not be laid to their door.
For the situation which has arisen thanks are due to the government of Liechtenstein which has for some time been carrying on negotiations with the Federation of Israelitish Communities in Switzerland which has prevailed upon it to permit the slaughtering of animals on Swiss territory, in order that the Swiss Jews might be supplied with a portion of the Kosher meat of which they are in need.
As is well known, schechita has been prohibited in Switzerland since 1893, and it is the only country where such a prohibition exists. Under these circumstances the Jews of Switzerland are forced to import meat. It may be regarded as a piece of “luck” that the Swiss people dealt very graciously with the Jewish people in forbidding only schechita, and not kosher meat. The importation of meat, however, involves considerable difficulties. During the war the difficulties of procuring kosher meat were so great that the Govern- (Continued on Page 4)
The following statistics reveal how serious a problem the importation of kosher meat is for Swiss Jewry. In the year 1927, the meat of 1,420 oxen, 1,324 cows, 566 sheep, was imported. Taking these figures into consideration it is small wonder that the Federation of Israelitish Communities in Switzerland has given and continues to give to this problem its concentrated attention and that it seeks in every possible way to lighten the burden of the Kehillah which is charged with the responsibility of supplying Kosher meat. A large number of the animals are slaughtered in San Luis, Alsace, a little town on the French-Swiss frontier. A short time ago the Federation began its negotiations with the Government of Liechtenstein. They came to an agreement on all important questions and were on the road to understanding on certain technical details which required explicit explanation.
These negotiations suddenly called forth dissatisfaction among a number of the Liechenstein inhabitants, precipitating a storm of opposition. A fierce polemic was inaugurated in the press on the subject of schechita; proposals were made for its absolute prohibition; propaganda meetings held for and against the proposal; meetings to secure signatures for a peoples’ referendum, etc., took place. In an interview with the “Zurich Presscentrale,” Dr. Hop, the head of the government of Liechtenstein, gave the assurance that the movement is not inspired by anti-Semitism of any variety, that it was simply an instrument of the opposition to overthrow the present regime. The fact is that behind the movement stands Dr. Baech, the head of the Oppositional “Folkespartei” and its press organ, “Liechtenstenische Nachrichten.” Opposing this movement, the government of Liechtenstein has the vigorous support of the Peasants Federation, and that too is understandable. The government of Liechtenstein expects from the concession which it has decided to grant the Swiss Federation an improvement of its economic and financial position. According to the terms of the agreement the Swiss Federation would be required to buy all the animals in Liechtenstein or in neighboring Swiss cantons. The principal industry in Liechtenstein is cattle raising, and it is clear, therefore, that the peasants, in supporting the agreement, have their eye on a market for their products.
The occurrences in Liechtenstien have found a strong re-echo in the Swiss press. A number of the newspapers, accustomed from time to time to inject a little anti-Semitic poison into their reading matter, seized upon the matter with relish, warmly greeted the Liechtenstein protagonists and pledged their full support to the campaign against the “cruel method” of schechita.
Other newspapers, opposed to the whole situation, received the news of the referendum very coldly, if not in outspoken disagreement. Still others went so far as to state that Switzerland’s act in prohibiting schechita is hardly an example to be followed; that the edict of 1893 is an unfair discrimination against the Jewish population and that it is a blot on the shield of Swiss freedom.
A fourth newspaper group sees the whole question from purely an economic viewpoint and declares that Switzerland, for economic reasons, should not like to see the prohibition of schechita carried into effect in Liechtenstein. It cites the terms of the agreement between the Liechtenstein government and the Swiss Federation, which specify animals must be purchased either in Leichtenstein or in neighboring Swiss cantons and points out that Swiss cattle breeders will derive a considerable income thereby.
It is interesting to note that “Die Neue Zurich Zeitung,” usually a dependable paper, hastened to publish a lengthy article in which it made an effort to prove that since Switzerland and Liechtenstein were bound by a customs treaty, the Swiss edict barring schechita is also binding on it. The Swiss Federation immediately, however, brought to the attention of the newspaper that its standpoint was absolutely without foundation. The editors of the paper were forced to publicly admit their error.
How will the campaign in Liechtenstein end? Who can forecast? Dr. Hop, the government leader, declares that the opposition will be defeated. It is to be hoped his forecast will prove correct. It may be true that Liechtenstein is not much of a state, still one does not wish a formal edict issued, barring schechita, such as exists in Switzerland.
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.