Dr. Géza Dombováry and the Budapest Circle of Jewish Legal Defenders

  • István Pál Adám Dubnow-Wiesenthal-Fellow
Keywords: Duels and antisemitism, Jewish Legal Defenders

Abstract

From 1867 onwards, Jewish middle-class families played a key role in the modernisation of Hungary. Within this group, I focus only on those families in which two subsequent generations decided to pursue a legal profession. A prominent example of this was Géza Schulhof von Dombovár and his son, Géza Richárd Dombováry. Through their adaptation to Hungarian society and their struggles with antisemitism, I intend to show some of the inner dynamism within Hungarian society more broadly, in which these Jewish lawyer families functioned for decades. In the 1880s and 1890s, Jewish Hungarians emerged in larger numbers in the legal profession and also in other segments of Hungarian public life. Some non- Jewish Hungarians perceived this as an invasion and, since educated Jewish Hungarians were accepted to fight duels, duelling represented a sphere where social tensions surrounding Jewish/non-Jewish coexistence could be fought out. This article addresses this phenomenon and suggests that one can observe a higher self-esteem among young Hungarian lawyers that was based on a combination of the emancipation process and the legal and army training they received. Furthermore, there was an interrelationship between their duelling activity which followed from this higher self-esteem and the militant legal defender activism they performed following the First World War.

Published
2019-12-09