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Count Bethlen Lashes Hungarian Anti-jewish Bill at Committee Hearing

April 25, 1938
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The government’s anti-Jewish bill and Premier Koloman Daranyi’s policy were denounced yesterday by former Premier Stephen Bethlen, addressing a meeting of a Parliamentary joint commission.

Count Bethlen assailed the proposed sweeping curbs on Jews in the nation’s economic and social life as violating the principle of equality of rights for which many generations fought.

The statesman who directed the Hungarian government from 1920 to 1931 ridiculed the bill’s aim to secure through such methods a leading role in the nation’s economy for Christians. He declared the bill, if adopted, would result in jobs for only a few thousand for an indefinite period, and insisted that the Jewish question must be solved without infringing on the rights of Jewish citizens.

Count Bethlen, who was frequently interrupted by members of the anti-Semitic Christian Union, warned that Hungary, which had Based measures to defend its minorities in other countries on the minorities treaties, could not flout those very treaties in its own country. He charged that the bill’s only effect would be creation of a new, salaried bureaucracy. Replying to hecklers who asked why he had not solved the Jewish question when he was Premier, Count Bethlen declared that other important problems confronted the Government at that time, one of which he said was creation of Hungarian industry.

The former Premier said that he had opposed a numerous clauses in the universities and had always insisted that no discrimination against Jews could be tolerated. He termed the Jewish question a difficult social and economic problem having a deep, psychological basis, and insisted that while he was opposed to discrimination, “no one can accuse me of taking a one-sided viewpoint.”

The rapporteur for the bill informed the joint commission, which comprises the committees for national economy, communications, justice and education, that the Government agreed that the 20 per cent quota set for Jews in industry and commerce should be exclusive of Jewish ex-servicemen and war invalids. The original draft of the bill had made this exception only for Jews in journalism.


Further criticism of the anti-Jewish bill, which is slated for debate in Parliament next week, was voiced by Dr. Charles Rassay, leader of the National Liberal party.

Declaring the proposed law violates the equal rights principle, Dr. Rassay asserted it virtually excluded Jews from the Hungarian community and also constitutes a great blow to the revision movement (which seeks return of territory annexed by Rumania after the World War).

Pointing out the patriotism of Hungarian Jews and their part in the war, Dr. Rassay protested the religious and racial discrimination against them and the attempt at “degrading children of Jewish heroes to citizens of the second category.” He asserted the propose law would deprive 15,000 to 16,000 Jews of their livelihood, while 50,000 to 60,000 would be affected.

The bill, Dr. Rassay declared, would not create new openings for the Christian population while jeopardizing the position of Christian small tradesmen.

Dr. Johan Makkay, representative of the Reform Generation party, supported the bill, declaring its aim was to secure the rights of the Christian population in Hungary, which he said was impossible “so long as capitalism in Hungary is directed by the Jews.”

A storm of protests followed when the notorious anti-Semitic Deputy Andrew Osillery read from the Jewish weekly, Egynloseg, its recent appeal to foreign Jewry to come to the financial aid of the Jews in Hungary. Several deputies, including leftists, pointed out that such steps encouraged anti-Semitism in Hungary.


The government was reported today to have prepared a second anti-Jewish bill, dealing with ownership of land, which will be rushed through Parliament. According to the newspaper “8 Orai Ujsag” (8 o’clock News), the bill is much more radical than originally expected. Under its reported terms, a distinction is made between land acquired before and after 1914, and Jews would not be allowed to own more land than they can cultivate themselves.

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