Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has joined the opposition to the erection of a statue of Balint Homan, a Holocaust-era anti-Semitic politician, reported the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
Homan was a Hungarian politician in the 1930s and 1940s who supported anti-Semitic laws and the deportation of Hungary’s Jews, a half-million of whom perished in the Holocaust.
“Prime Minister Orban’s clear statement on this matter comes very late, but it is nonetheless welcome,” World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder said in a press release. “I thank him for making the standpoint of the Hungarian government very clear: No honors must be given to those who prepared the ground for the mass murder of 600,000 Hungarian Jews by Nazi Germany in 1944.”
The Balint Homan Foundation has been pushing for the erection of the statue in the town of Szekesfehervar, but it was to be largely funded with public money, mostly in the form of a grant from the Hungarian Justice Ministry.
The statue had been scheduled to be unveiled on December 29; now, the foundation wants to postpone the unveiling and start a fundraising campaign to pay for it privately, according to the WJC.
“It would have been a travesty if the taxpayer, including more than 100,000 Hungarian Jews, would have had to contribute toward a statue for a man who not only hated Jews, but who helped actively in their persecution,” Lauder said.
Jewish groups and American, Israeli, and Canadian politicians have criticized the proposed statue.
Homan, who was also a respected historian and credited with introducing valuable reforms in Hungary’s education system, was condemned to life in prison for war crimes by a people’s tribunal in 1946. He died in prison in 1951, but was posthumously rehabilitated by a Budapest court in March.
With reporting by The Associated Press.