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Simon Wiesenthal Lectures

 

The Simon Wiesenthal Lecture series has been held in collaboration with the Documentation Centre of Austrian Resistance (DÖW) and the Institute of Contemporary History at the University of Vienna since 2007, when the Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies (VWI) was still being established. As an important aspect of the task of education on recent academic insights in the fields of Holocaust research and genocide studies, the lecture series has developed into the VWI's education flagship.

 

The lectures take place every six to eight weeks, with renowned scholars presenting the most recent research insights on the Holocaust to a professional audience as well as a broader public. They showcase the impressive spectrum of this discipline, its numerous questions and issues ranging from empirical-analytical historiography to topics of cultural scholarship, and involve young scholars as well as established academics.

 

The Austrian State Archive as our co-operation partner has since June 2010 provided us with the perfect location for our lectures: the rooftop foyer of the “Haus-, Hof- und Staatsarchiv” at Minoritenplatz in Vienna. This location at the rear façade of the Federal Chancellery of the Republic of Austria is symbolic of the reappraisal of the Holocaust in Austria: After all, this history had been marginalised for decades, just like its immediate historical antecedent, Austrian antisemitism, was cut out of history, its appraisal shoved aside for victims and their descendants to deal with. This has only changed in recent times. The Shoah has simultaneously been moving ever closer to the centre of Austrian historical awareness. It has slowly emerged from the repressed periphery and out of the realm of taboo and silence and into the focus of understanding of Austria’s most recent history. Thus, the Simon Wiesenthal Lectures are held at a place that represents the symbolic and real centre of the Republic and is at the same time also an instance of this turn in the Austrian perception of its own history.

 

 

Simon Wiesenthal Lecture
Mária Kovács: Disenfranchised by Law. The "Numerus Clausus" in Hungary 1920 - 1945
   

Thursday, 12. December 2013, 18:30 - 20:00

Dachfoyer des Haus-, Hof- und Staatsarchivs, Minoritenplatz 1, 1010 Wien

 

Adopted in 1920, the ‘Numerus Clausus’ law introduced a mechanism to keep Jews out of universities by screening all applicants as to whether or not they were Jewish, either by religion or by birth. Jewish applicants were listed separately and their admission was only possible up to six percent of all students.   
 
The lecture will challenge a number of false historical legends that understate the significance of the ‘Numerus Clausus’ law and, more generally, of state-sanctioned antisemitism in the Horthy regime. It will provide strong evidence to dispel the convenient legend that Hungarian antisemitism was a policy externally imposed by Nazi Germany. It will demonstrate that government-sanctioned antisemitism in Hungary was a story in and of itself, a story whose beginnings had predated the rise of Nazism in Germany by over a decade. It will show how the ‘Numerus Clausus’ law not only legitimised antisemitism as state-policy, but also served as an inspiration all throughout the inter-war years for racist movements to demand further anti-Jewish quotas and legislation.  
 
Finally, the paper will address current implications of debates over the law in Hungary’s memory war and demonstrate how apologetic accounts of the numerus clausus still serve to whitewash the Horthy regime from charges of state-sanctioned antisemitism.  
 
Mária M. Kovács is Professor of History and Chair of the Nationalism Studies Program at the Central European University in Budapest. Her research interests and publications concern issues of antisemitism, right-wing movements and nationalism. Her latest book entitled Törvénytől sújtva. A numerus clausus Magyarországon, 1919-1945 (Budapest: Napvilág 2012) [=Disenfranchised by Law. The History of the Hungarian Numerus Clausus, 1919-1945], earlier publications include Liberalizmus, radikalizmus, antiszemitizmus. A magyar orvosi, ügyvédi és mérnöki kar politikája 1867 és 1945 között. [=Liberalism, Radicalism, Antisemitism. The Politics of the professional chambers of medical doctors, lawyers and engineers.] (Budapest: Helikon 2001) and Liberal professions and illiberal politics. Hungary from the Habsburgs to the Holocaust. (Washington: Oxford University Press 1994).
 
Einladung Kovacs
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  
 
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