Thursday, October 3, 2013

Hungary June - September 1941 The Third Anti-Jewish Law

ADSS 6 references to Hungary traced the path of the Antisemitic Legislation approved by the Hungarian parliament and opposed by the Catholic bishops throughout 1939-1940.  Volume 8 of ADSS lets us trace the evolution of the next phase in the development of a Hungarian version of the Nuremberg Laws.  While it was true that Hungarian Jews were not being herded into ghettos and camps nor were they being murdered as part of state policy, their status in Hungary was now on a similar par with the Jews of Germany between 1935 and September 1941 when German Jews were ordered to wear the yellow star.

What ADSS shows is the intervention of Cardinal Serédi, in the Upper House of the Parliament attempting to if not prevent passage of the new bill then at least seeking to ameliorate those parts deemed contrary to the Catholic theology of marriage.

Act XV of the Hungarian Parliament in 1941, popularly known as the "Third Anti-Jewish Law" ended a process that had begun in 1938.  The law of 29.05.1938 began the removal of Jews from the professions and Hungarian economic life.  There were some exceptions, but the tone of future race-based legislation had been set.

Act IV of 1939 promulgated on 05.05.1939 defined Jews on racial grounds following the example of the Nuremberg Laws. Exclusion of Jews from the economic life of Hungary was accelerated.  A Hungarian form of "aryanisation" in the figure of the Strohmann (Straw Man) ensured that while Jews were forced out of management and public ownership, Jewish business expertise was not lost.  It was a cynical ploy, endorsed by the government, but allowed some measure of financial security for Jewish businesses.  At the same time an estimated 90,000 Hungarian Jews were unemployed, and by government decree, unemployable.  When the dependents of the 90,000 are added, the total number of Jews displaced by the new laws reached about 220,000 of a total population estimated at around 400,000.  This number was to grow rapidly to over 846,000 between 1939 - 1941 when Hungary was given tracts of territory from Slovakia, Romania and the defeated Yugoslavia.

The final law was debated in the Hungarian Parliament in July 1941.  This summary comes from the Hungarian website Social Conflict.

Act XV of 1941 (the third Anti-Jewish Law) on “The amendment and modification of marriage law XXXI of 1894, and the related necessary racial provisions” went into effect on August 8, 1941. Using Nazi terminology in its preamble, the law applied Germany’s Nuremberg laws: everyone with at least two grandparents born into the Israelite faith was defined as a Jew. The law also forbade marriage, and legally sanctioned extramarital sexual intercourse between Jews and non-Jews, provided the male was defined a Jew and the female was not. While the first two anti-Jewish pieces of legislation were accepted by Upper Chamber members representing Christian churches (Jusztinián Serédi, Catholic cardinal-primate, Sándor Raffay, Lutheran and László Ravasz Protestant bishops, as well as other church dignitaries), they strongly opposed the third law, as it drastically interfered with the marital status of converted Jews, thereby violating ecclesiastic jurisdiction.

ADSS 8: documents related to the passage of the Third Anti-Jewish Law in Hungary.

8.95    14.06.1941 Angelo Rotta, Nuncio to Hungary to Secretary of State, Cardinal Luigi Maglione.  Racial legislation in Hungary and the intervention of the Cardinal Serédi.

8.111  06.07.1941 Rotta to Maglione. 
Race laws in Hungary: opposition of the clergy and steps taken by the nuncio.

8.116  19.07.1941 Rotta to Maglione
Race Laws were approved by Hungarian parliament despite the opposition of the Catholic bishops and Protestant leaders.

8.120  26.07.1941 Rotta to Maglione
Race laws in Hungary approved without mitigation.

8.128  10.08.1941 Maglione to Gabriel Apor, Hungarian Ambassador to the Holy See.
Official Vatican protest against the race laws in Hungary.

8.130  13.08.1941 Maglione to Rotta
Protest against the new racial laws.  Implications for Catholic marriages.  Rotta replied 21.08.1941.  The law would be introduced gradually.

8.141 Gabriele Apor to Maglione.  Justification for the race laws.

Translations of these documents will follow in subsequent posts.  For the most part they do not need additional commentary.  The central theme throughout was the Church's protest against violations of traditional teaching on Catholic marriage, namely it was not the right of the state to legislate who could and who could not marry, outside of socially accepted norms that, in any case, the Church taught derived from Natural Law.  There does not appear any criticism of the removal of Jews from economic and professional life in Hungary.  This is not to say that the Catholic bishops of Hungary necessarily agreed with the removal of the Jews, but that in the documents presented in ADSS these concerns do not arise.  I admit this is the most positive "spin" I can put on the lack of evidence.

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