November 29, 2023

November 30, 6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

Central European University

1051 Nador utca 15, Budapest

Room 106

or on zoom.

Registration is required here by November 29.

Zoom link provided upon registration.


The Nazi 1933 Civil Service Law and the 1935 Nuremberg Laws are often considered the first anti-Jewish decrees in interwar Europe. Mária M. Kovács convincingly argues that Hungary’s numerus clausus law of 1920, which introduced a Jewish quota at Hungary’s institutions of higher learning, was, in fact, interwar Europe’s first antisemitic law.  By defining—and discriminating against—Jews as a separate “racial” or “national” group, it abrogated the principle of equal rights that had been enshrined into law; as such, it marked an abrupt reversal of Jewish emancipation in Hungary.  Moreover, the numerus clausus law set the stage for subsequent “Jewish Laws” (in the late 1930s and early 1940s) that sought to solve Hungary’s “Jewish Question” by means of extraordinary legal measures that targeted Jews alone.  This book examines the origins and implementation of the numerus clausus, as well as the attempts to dampen its impact on Hungary’s international reputation, focusing on the debates surrounding it promulgation (1920), its modification (1928) and its eventual application to other areas of Jewish life (1938–45).


This book is the English translation of Törvénytől sújtva - A numerus clausus Magyarországon, 1920-1945, a seminal work by Maria M. Kovacs, originally published in Hungarian in 2012. On the occasion of the launch of the English version, we want to remember the author’s legacy as a historian, a professor and a public intellectual.

Michael L. Miller, historian, is head of the Nationalism Studies program and academic director of the Jewish Studies Program at Central European University in Vienna.

Ágnes Katalin Kelemen, historian, is the coordinator of the ’Democracy in History’ workgroup at the CEU Democracy Institute, a disciple of Maria M. Kovacs.

András Kovács, sociologist, is professor emeritus at the Nationalism Studies Program, and the founding director of the Jewish Studies Program at Central European University.  He is a research affiliate of the CEU Democracy Institute.

Attila Pók, historian, is former Deputy Director of the Institute of History, Research Center for Humanities of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, former Secretary General of the Hungarian Historical Association, chairman of the Academic Council of the European Network of Remembrance and Solidarity, a senior researcher at the Institute of Advanced Study in Kőszeg.