The World Jewish Congress (WJC) is urging authorities in a Hungarian city to abandon plans to honor a Horthy-era government minister well known for his actions against the Jews. Municipal leaders in Székesfehérvár, a city of 100,000 inhabitants located between Budapest and Lake Balaton, are planning to erect a life-size bronze statue in honor of Bálint Homan (1885-1951). It is to be funded in large part through a grant from the Hungarian Justice Ministry.
WJC President Ronald S. Lauder called on Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to block plans for the statue from moving forward. “Seventy years after the end of World War II, it is inconceivable and wrong for a city to erect a statue in honor of a known anti-Semite and a key figure in the persecution of Hungarian Jews before and during World War II. Homan was an outspoken supporter of Nazi Germany and the fascist Arrow Cross regime in 1944, and he remained unrepentant until his death,” said Lauder.
“Bálint Homan was an emblematic figure in the humiliation and deportation of Hungarian Jews. He was an anti-Semite who does not deserve to be honored, and doing so would insult the victims of the Holocaust,” declared WJC Vice-President András Heisler, who also serves as president of the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities (Mazsihisz).
In a letter to Székesfehérvár Mayor András Cser-Palkovics, a member of the Orbán’s Fidesz party, Heisler recently wrote: “From October 1932, Bálint Hóman, as culture minister in several Hungarian governments, played a key role in the systematic outlawing of the Hungarian Jewish people. His name is connected to the first anti-Jewish law. He supported banning Jews from exercising certain professions. Before the German occupation [in 1944], he wanted to expel Jews and later served as a member of the Arrow Cross regime.”
Heisler added that no Hungarian citizen today could be proud of a personality like Homan, and he stressed that Homan’s academic achievements could not outweigh the role he played before and during the Holocaust.