• 1931: The Vienna Student Regulation

      The repeal of the Student Regulation of the University of Vienna in 1931 led to anti-semitic riots.

      The period after the First World War was marked by increasing radicalisation at the universities. With German-nationalist tendencies among students and professors gaining in intensity, Jewish, social- democratic and liberal colleagues became targets of hostilities. In this atmosphere of heated controversy, the Academic Senate of the University of Vienna took up an idea first expressed by Rector Wenzel Gleispach, a supporter of National Socialist ideas, and on 20 March 1930 adopted a “Student Regulation of the University of Vienna”, which was promulgated on 8 April 1930. In substance, its purpose was to group students of “the same ethnic origin and mother tongue”, regardless of their nationality, in racially defined “student nations”. These were to be based on ethnicity and named accordingly. For Jewish students, the regulation meant that they were excluded from the “German student body”.

      In its decision of 20 June 1931 (VfSlg 1397), which was publicly communicated on 23 June 1931, the Constitutional Court, acting upon a petition submitted by the criminal court of the 1st District of Vienna, repealed the Student Regulation on grounds that it lacked a legal basis. In the Court’s opinion, new types of associations (such as the student nations) could not be created by way of a regulation that violated the provisions of the law on associations. There was no reason for the Court to invoke the argument of equal treatment, but it stated in an obiter dictum (“by the way”) that “the classification of students in groups, […] including those based on nationality, […] is not in conflict with the principle of equality of all citizens before the law, provided that these groups have the same rights and duties and that inclusion in such groups corresponds to the principles of constitutional law.”

      As soon as the Court’s decision to repeal the regulation became known, massive riots broke out at the University of Vienna, where National Socialist students violently attacked their Jewish and socialist colleagues.

      A few days later, Rector Hans Uebersberger and Vice-Rector Gleispach were celebrated as “pioneers of German student rights” in a National Socialist torchlight march.

    • Meldung der Aufhebung im Neuen Wiener Abendlblatt 

      News item in the Neue Wiener Abendblatt
      reporting the repeal of the regulation
      Neues Wiener Abendblatt, 23/06/1931, p. 1.

      (Photo: ÖNB/ANNO)

      Studentengruppen vor der Univ. Wien, 23.06.1931 

      Student groups in front of the main entrance to the University of Vienna on 23/06/1931.
      (Photo: ÖNB/Bildarchiv)

      Meldung der Aufhebung in der Arbeiterzeitung 

      News item in the Arbeiterzeitung reporting the Court’s decision
      Arbeiter-Zeitung, 24/06/1931, p. 1.
      (Photo: ÖNB/ANNO)

      Aufruf zum Fackelzug für Rektor Gleispach, 02.07.1931 

      Call for a torchlight march in honour of the “pioneers of German student rights”, Rector Professor Uebersberger and former Rector Professor Gleispach, on 02/07/1931.
      (Photo: ÖNB/Bildarchiv)

      Rektor und Prorektor am nationalsozialistischem Fackelzug, 02.07.1931 

      Rector Uebersberger and Vice-Rector Gleispach during the torchlight march on 2 July 1931, surrounded by students raising their arms in the “German salute”.
      (Photo: ÖNB/Bildarchiv)

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