In compliance with the appeal of the Minister, many raids were staged in that year of 1925 against Jewish families and enterprises. As a result of these raids, the official statistics mentioned that 160 Jews with 183 members of their families were expelled immediately. Expulsion proceedings were started in 354 additional cases involving 824 Jewish persons, and 1,383 heads of Jewish families with 3,113 members were summoned to prove their right to stay in Hungary.[21]

The law of 1925 itself was replaced by that of 1938, article XV, called “the law to assure a better balance in Hungarian social and economic life. This law limited the proportion of Jews admissible to the professions of journalism, filmmaking, of the stage, as well as to membership in the Bar Association and in the medical profession to 20%. Any industrial enterprise employing more than 10 workers was also limited to 20% of Jewish employment.”[22]

In 1939, article IV of the same law defined who had to be considered a Jew: “any person either of Jewish faith or having one parent or two grandparents of that faith was classified in that category. Jews were barred from employment in the civil service (they had been de facto long before). The profession of a teacher at any level was forbidden to them. The numerus clauses—that is to say, the limitation of Jewish students in Hungarian universities—was reaffirmed. Their proportion remained the same—6%. The same percentage was applied to licences in any trade. The law also curtailed the right to vote of Jews in Hungary.”[23]

The last Horthy’s law in opposition to Jews (1941) with the article XV was against the right to marry a non-Jew person for a Jew.

These laws are relevant because they represented:

  1. an increasingly aggressive policy toward the Jews.
  2. The evolution of the Hungarian society that became a model for the German Nazis.
  3. The starting-point for the subsequent despoliation of the Jews, the deprivation of their rights “as citizens and human beings.”[24]

Anti-Semitism in Inter-war Poland

In the inter-war period Poland was a state that the Allied Powers had created in 1919 from parts of the German, Austro-Hungarian and Russian empires. Poland included within its borders a number of ethnic minority groups, among which were Germans, Ukrainians, Lithuanians, Slovaks, and three million Jews.

In newly independent Poland matters then got off a very bad star, as we have seen: the Jews being subjected to a continuous hail of verbal attacks and widespread violence, much of it of an exceedingly cruel and humiliating nature vented for no objectively comprehensive ground.[25]

Several Polish governments protected non-Polish minorities by signing on June 28, 1919 “Little Treaty of Versailles.”[26]It is important to underline that the protection of minorities wasn’t efficient, above all after the death of Marshal Jozef Pilsudski, the first Polish President, in 1935.[27]

A 1927 law requiring artisans to pass a formal examination of technical competence laid down that their proficiency in the Polish language be tested as well. The law confronted them with an obstacle that relatively few among them were in a position to overcome and did nothing in practice to accelerate the spread of the Polish language in the Jews population, a natural process that needed no formal machinery to promote it.[28]

In fact, after 1935, Polish anti-Semitic political parties wanted the Government to approve a law for the restrictions on the social mobility of Polish Jews.[29]These parties were very close to the German Nazis and they appreciated the Nuremberg Race Laws.[30]

The first example was a law (January 1st, 1937) that “placed limits on the practice of the kosher slaughtering of cattle by Orthodox Jews. This law allowed the Polish government”[31]

to regulate the supply of cattle to kosher slaughterers, and jurisdictions in which Jews numbered less than three percent of the total population were to be permitted to outlaw kosher slaughtering altogether.[32]

This law was discriminatory and it was against a huge number of Orthodox Jews. “It also had a devastating effect on the economic well being of tens of thousands of Jewish butchers, their families, and their suppliers.”[33]

From 1935 to 1939, several anti-Semitic laws were created in order to influence professional organizations with the only aim to exclude Jews. Here are only a few examples:

• In August 1936, “the Polish Government ordered that all shops include the name of the owner on their business sign. This order was equivalent to specifically marking Jewish-owned businesses.”[34]This position was made explicit and was also published in the semi-official newspaper Gazeta Polska:

The development of the co-operative movement is a healthy and satisfying phenomenon and we should support it notwithstanding the fact that it spells disaster to Jewish trade. I like the Danes very much but if there were three million of them in Poland I would pray to God to take them away. Maybe we should like the Jews very much if there were only 50,000 of them in Poland.[35]

The official anti-Semitism also had a religious legitimacy from the Roman Catholic Church. In fact, in 1936 Cardinal August Hlond expressed Church’s prescriptions against Jews in a official pastoral letter.

It is an actual fact that the Jews fight against the Catholic church, they are free-thinkers, and constitute the vanguard of atheism, bolshevism and revolution. It is also true that in the schools the Jewish youth is having an evil influence, from an ethical and religious point of view, on the Catholic youth. One does well to avoid Jewish shops and Jewish stalls in the markets, but it is not permitted to demolish Jewish businesses. One should protect oneself against the influence of Jewish morals. But it is inadmissible to assault, hit or injure Jews.[36]

• May 1937: the membership of the Polish Medical Association adopted a paragraph into their professional charter excluding Jews from the medical profession.[37]

• May 1937: official state action in May 1938 restricting the ability of Jewish lawyers to attain licenses to practice law.[38]

• 1938: the General Assembly of Journalists officially declared that anyone Jewish could not belong to their organization.[39]

• April 1938, the Bank Polski adopted a provision excluding Jews.[40]

• March 1938: the new Citizenship Law. “This law stated that as of October 30, 1938, the passports of Polish citizens who had lived abroad for more than five years would be revoked if those citizens had not maintained contact with the (home) country.”[41]

Although this law did not target Jews specifically, its effect had a dramatic impact on Jews who had lived outside of Poland.  One such community of Jewish expatriates were the tens of thousands of Polish Jews residing in neighbouring Germany.  The Polish action would have effectively rendered these people stateless on German soil, making them a German problem.  Nazi officials, particularly Heinrich Himmler, chief of the SS, and his subordinate, Reinhard Heydrich, had planned since earlier in the year to force Jews—particularly Polish Jews—to leave Germany.  On October 28th – 29th, the SS and Gestapo detained 15,000 Polish Jews and sent them over the German frontier into Poland.  These refugees were turned back by Polish border guards and then interned in a refugee camp “between” Germany and Poland at Zbaszyn.  There they languished under terrible conditions until Poland finally relented and allowed them to enter the country in 1939.[42]

The Polish Madagascar Plan

Polish Government, in 1935, wanted to establish a colonial presence in Africa and to find a territory in order to relocate over three million of Polish Jews; the island of Madagascar was the best option.[43]Poland held no colonies in Africa and Madagascar was under French control. “The Polish government therefore campaigned in Britain and France and in the League of Nations for its right to ten-percent of former German colonial holdings in Africa.”[44] Great Britain and France didn’t accept the Polish request.

These policies (the will of a colonial presence and the Madagascar Plan) represented an attempt to play a important role in international arena.

After the negative response of Great Britain and France, Polish Government decided that the creation of a Jewish colony on Madagascar would have represented the first step for a colonial acquisition. “The basis of Poland’s hopes lay in comments that French Colonial Minister Marius Moutet had made in January 1937 concerning the possibility of sending France’s Jews to many different locations around the world, all of which were French colonial holdings, including the island of Madagascar.”[45]