The many assurances voiced by the most authoritative spokesmen for the Austrian government regarding the sanctity of Jewish rights almost invariably are deprived of the effect they would otherwise have by acts taken directly contrary to the spirit and meaning of the assurances voiced.
Only recently the world at large was positively assured that the Austrian government had no desire and no intention to evade the clauses of the Treaty of St. Germain dealing with minority rights. These clauses, and the Austrian constitution as well, specifically provide for equality of rights for all citizens irrespective of religion.
In the face of this decision it is announced that two posts in the observation for internal diseases of the Vienna labor sick fund, which are to be filled May 1, must be filled by doctors able to present baptismal certificates with their applications for the jobs. The same condition has been made to apply to two vacancies for district doctors in the first and second Vienna districts of the same sick panel. One of these vacancies is being created by the forced retirement of a Jewish physician, aged 41.
It should be noted that the labor sick fund is an institution maintained by public funds and subject to the administration of the federal government.
Chancellor Schuschnigg and other government leaders have taken great pains in the recent past to prove that none of the dismissals or other enforced disabilities have been imposed on Jews because they were Jews, but because of their political activities. The Arbeiter Sonntag, a newspaper friendly and close to the government, states:
“A number of university students at all the Austrian universities have recently been conditionally suspended for a number of terms on suspicion of anti-government activity with the addition that this conditional suspension will be carried into full force if peace and order at the universities continue to be disturbed.
“This order, which has been issued by the State government commissar for the universities, gives no ground for the suspicion expressed.
“The students in question are former members of the Association of Social Democratic Students, and mostly it is Jews who have been hit.
“Assurances have been given that most of these youths have never been politically active. Above all, one is struck by this collective measure, which in practice seems to lead to the suspension of a few Jewish ex-Socialist students, while the Nazis are allowed to carry on their activities as they please.”
Incidents such as these, the unreserved campaign of libel and slander of the Jews conducted in the Nazi press without intervention by the authorities and the “ghetto system” established in the public schools under conditions which the Jews cannot approve, form the background for the significant resolutions embodied in a statement of the Jewish People’s League for Austria at its annual general meeting. This statement declares in part:
“The General Assembly notes with satisfaction that the leadership of the Jewish People’s League has initiated an action with the federal government for the protection of the honor of the Jewish citizens in Austria. The Jewish people and the Jewish religious community of Austria are especially in the latest period being systematically and unscrupulously insulted and libeled in periodicals, pamphlets and other printed matter. The responsible publishers of such libelous publications know that under the existing practice they are safe from any legal action. These insults and libels go unpunished, since no Jewish individual, or collective juridical person seems to be legitimately entitled to take action before the law courts against the offender.
“The fact that every incitement to hostility against nationalities and religious communities, including the Jewish, and every insult of a legally recognized religious association, including the Jewish, is liable under Paragraphs 302 and 303 of the Austrian Penal code. The State attorneys have failed, however, for unknown reasons, to take any action in these repeated cases of insult of the Jewish community in various printed works. The possibility of prosecution by the State attorneys seems to exist, but the law has never been put in motion in such cases.
“The Jewish People’s League of Austria, therefore, finds it necessary to appeal to the federal government to amend the penal law in order to give the possibility to every members and organization of a national or a legally recognized religious community to lodge a private action for every insult or libel directed against his nation or religion, and demand that it should be punished.”