On September 21, 1920, the Hungarian National Assembly approved Europe first Modern Age racist law. It was against the Jews as defined by race (not religion) and it was called the Numerus Clausus (closed number) law, meaning that only a certain number of Jews (about 5% of the total) were allowed to study in Hungarian universities. More than half of the members of the Assembly voted against the law or "voted" absent. The background was that in less than a generation, the most prestigious schools had become dominated by Jews. Hungarian Christian middle class was passing a terrible situation: In the Austro-Hungarian Empire they had administered an area with about 50 million inhabitants, with wide middle-class employment possibilities in the public service, the military and other "gentleman positions". After losing the war, Hungary became a small country of 7 - 8 million and the Hungarian "gentry" became unemployed and unwilling to work in manual trade. Jews had never occupied public service positions so they could not be sacked to make place for others. But the post Trianon bitterness found expression in the universities, where the "Christian-National" students (organized within the framework of something like ROTC reserve units in America) pressured the government to literally to open up positions for them.
The understanding of the suffering of their Hungarian neighbors and the rather localized character of antisemitism, explain the blind lack of alarm of the Hungarian Jews and their quiet acceptance of the restrictive measure. Vienna was a train ticket away and the famous German, French, Swiss universities were open and free to Hungarian Jewish students. Most of them spoke superb German and life in Western university towns was cheap and gay. Among those who left Hungary to study were Teller Ede, Neumann János, Cukor György, Arthur Koestler.