Éva Kahán was born in a middle-class Jewish family on 1 January, 1955. After graduating from Bezerédi Street Primary School in Budapest, she followed in her older brother’s footsteps and continued her secondary level studies at Miklós Bercsényi Food Industry Vocational Secondary School. The spirit of her secondary school was set by such teachers as Boriska Ravasz, István Bibó’s widow, who had taught there. This spirit played not a small part when, having passed her secondary school‑leaving exams, Éva Kahán decided to apply to the Faculty of Law of Eötvös Loránd University, where she graduated from with a doctoral degree in 1979. She got married in 1974 and had two sons from her marriage. She lost her parents at an early age, so she gave private lessons to supplement the financial support she received from the family to cover the costs of her university studies.
During her university years she became interested in the legal regulation of minorities and nationalities’ situation and in special aspects of labour law. That choice of specialisation was already driven by the heightened social sensitivity which characterised her actions throughout her later life. After graduation she started to work as a legal officer at ‘Művelt Nép’ book distribution company. Her main profile included civil suits and employment proceedings. She had a good relationship with her colleagues and was an honoured member of the company staff with her work always held in high regard. She also prepared for her post-graduate professional examination in this period and obtained her qualifications as a legal counsel in 1982. She started to work at ‘Csemege’ trade company in 1986, where she specialised mainly in real property and employment cases.
She moved to Vienna with her husband and sons in 1988. There she contributed greatly to their foreign trade family business gaining a foothold under the new circumstances. She maintained an active relationship with Hungary through her work. As she often said, she ‘liked practising law’, and after making great efforts, she passed all the exams necessary to have her law degree recognised in Vienna in 2001. This opened up a new possibility for her to work as a legal counsel in Austria. Sadly, that opportunity could not be taken because she fell seriously ill in the beginning of 2002, only a few months after the successful nostrification of her diploma. She was fighting the disease with unbelievable optimism and a desire to live but could not recover from it. She died in Vienna, on 25 October, 2004.
Dr. Kahán Éva (1955-2004) was a lawyer. In Hungary, during the Second World War and the persecution of Jews, her family directly experienced that “non-recognition and disregard of human rights has led to a barbarous act in humanity’s conscience.” * Throughout Dr. Kahán Éva’s life and work these experiences have had contributed a fundamental belief in the importance of the rule of law and the protection of humanity, minorities and freedoms. She believed that learning and enlightened knowledge enabled the people to protect themselves, their families, and their communities and live fulfilling lives. According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights “higher education should be open in front of everyone with equal terms.” **
The Dr. Kahán Éva Fund strives to create a level playing field both to disadvantaged young law students and young artists. Today in Hungary, the ability to study law is limited to those academically talented students who are capable of paying significant tuition fees. Free tuition is only possible through state funding ,which is restricted to a few dozen students across the entire country annually. High tuition fees and the cost of living during these many years of study cause almost insurmountable difficulties for young people from disadvantaged families. For this reason, in recent years the number of applicants from such families has decreased significantly. Dr. Kahán Éva Fund for the Support of the Young Disadvantaged Law Students seeks to help by financing ongoing tuition fees and giving financial support to primarily young Jewish/Romani law students who are also capable of meeting certain academic criteria throughout their studies.
The Dr. Kahán Éva Fund for Support of Young Disadvantaged Law Students was founded and is maintained by the descendants of Dr. Kahán Éva from their own personal taxed income, without any state, public, or community financing. The fund proudly supports all the fundamental values and core beliefs of Dr Kahán Éva’s life’s work with the intention of continuing her mission to create a better future for the generations to come.
* The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Introductory.
** The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 26