Between Self-Defense and Loyalty

Jewish Responses to the Numerus Clausus Law in Hungary, 1920–1928

  • Judith Szapor McGill University
Keywords: Academic antisemitism, Anti-Jewish laws, numerus clausus law, Hungary 1920s, Jewish assimilation

Abstract

Enacted in September 1920 in Hungary, the numerus clausus law, the first antisemitic law in postwar Europe introduced discrimination against Jews in higher education. Ostensibly a remedy for the “overcrowding” of universities, the law breached the previous, liberal era’s concept of equal citizenship. This survey of Jewish responses to the law between 1920-1928 is based on the coverage of Egyenlőség, the representative weekly of assimilated, Neolog Jews. The arguments voiced by contemporary commentators against the numerus clausus law highlight their precarious position, between fighting to maintain full membership in the Hungarian nation while also nurturing a sense of Jewish identity; ultimately, they reflect their views on the prospect of assimilation itself.

Published
2019-06-13