Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Alexander Karp - September 14, 1995

Political Changes in the 1930s

Tell me, tell me about some of the changes that you saw in, in, uh, the '30's, well, I guess, '38, '39, is that when things began to change?

Yes, '38, '39. It was, uh, it was quite in depth it started to change, 'cause by that time, they started to bring, uh, new laws where it was affecting the Jews. Um, it was one law where it was instituted--it was called the, "the Jewish question," you know, and, uh, we had, at that time, one Prime Minister. I believe either he was a Prime Minister or he was a Int...Minister of Interior. Bella Imré, who supposedly had some kind of a Jewish heritage, too. Way back. This is the way the word went on, that he did have some heritage, and he was ferocious. He was, he was one of the worst, you know. And he started to put across laws what it was affecting, whether it affected schooling, business, or anything, you name it. It was affecting the daily life of the Jews of Hungary.

You mean with the numerus clausus? Like the numerus clausus?

Well, the numerus clausus, I believe, that was even instituted before that. I don't exactly remember the date when. But it had to be in the early '30's or late '20's.

Can you describe for me what that meant, the numerus clausus?

Numerus clausus. That for higher education they were only a certain number of Jewish students would be admitted.

What kinds of specific effects? Did, did your father run a store, for example?

No. He didn't have a store.

Were Jews, Jewish businesses open on the Sabbath?

No. There may have been some in later years in Budapest or some of the larger cities. But, uh, I remember in Kisvarda, for instance, I had visited Kisvarda because I went to school there for several years, and my grandparents lived there. I visited them. The main street, it was primarily Jewish stores. That's where people found their way that they could make a living. Not too many people could be involved in banking or industry or somewhat mining and so forth. At one point, there was not one Jewish store open on the Sabbath. But towards the 1940's when some people even converted or led off for various reasons why, but there was one or two to the best of my knowledge who kept open on Saturdays.

But, as far as you know, it wasn't because they were forced to be open?

No, no, the government would not force you to be open. The government would force you to be closed on Sundays.

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