US Congress and World Jewish Congress protest Hungary’s plans for fascist statue

Ronald S. Lauder, President of the World Jewish Congress, had some sharp words this week, regarding plans to erect a statue in memory of historian Bálint Hóman, Hungary’s Minister of Religion and Education between 1932 and 1938, and again between 1939 and 1942, during the fascistic Horthy era. The statue is planned for the western Hungarian town of  Székesfehérvár. While some politicians in Admiral Miklós Horthy’s Hungary were less supportive of Adolf Hitler’s Germany and sought peace with the Allies in 1943, Mr. Hóman was firmly in the pro-Hitler camp. In 1944, he sided with the Hitlerite Arrow Cross leadership, escaped to Germany in early 1945, and was eventually captured by American soldiers. Bálint Hóman was convicted of war crimes in 1946 and spent the rest of his life in prison.

The plans for a Hóman-statue led to protests among liberal activists and some left-leaning Hungarian Jews, who are widely perceived as being “radical” by those in the Hungarian Jewish community who are supportive of the Orbán government. Organized via Facebook, these small groups of activists have pledged to physically stop authorities from erecting the statue and if necessary, will take action to dismantle it. The activists showed up unannounced at the future location of the statue and erected a makeshift memorial to the persecuted of the interwar Horthy regime. Many of the activists were also the ones who continue to protest the German occupation monument in Budapest’s Szabadság tér and hold open air lectures and vigils several times each week.

A makeshift memorial erected in Székesfehérvár by those who oppose the planned Hóman-statue.

A makeshift memorial erected in Székesfehérvár by those who oppose the planned Hóman-statue.

The President of the World Jewish Congress did not mince his words in responding to the news of the statue, which includes a 15 million forint contribution from the Orbán government:

“It is quite outrageous that the Hungarian taxpayer should fund a monument for a man who was not only an anti-Semite, a key figure in the persecution of Hungarian Jews before and during World War II and a supporter of Nazi Germany and the fascist Arrow Cross regime in 1944, but who also remained unrepentant until his death. Today, I call on Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to intervene in this matter and to ensure that this statue is not built with public funds. If this happens, Hungary would send out the wrong message on how to deal with sensitive issues such as the Holocaust.”

We’re sharing the letter addressed to Viktor Orbán from the U.S. Congress Taskforce for Combatting Anti-Semitism below:

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A letter from the US Congress protesting the Hóman statue.

A letter from the US Congress protesting the Hóman statue.

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Senator Ben Cardin (D-Maryland) also issued the following statement:

“I am deeply distressed that the Hungarian Government, even during their year-long chairmanship of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, continues to shamelessly whitewash history. Plans to honor a man known as the architect of Hungary’s anti-Jewish laws come on the heels of the erection of the much criticized ‘occupation memorial’ in Budapest last year and while controversies about the government’s alternative Holocaust museum remain unresolved. Plans to build a tribute to Balint Homan cannot be reconciled with Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s stated policy of ‘zero tolerance’ for anti-Semitism.  I urge Hungary to end the rehabilitation of anti-Semitic figures and to disavow efforts to honor members of the murderous wartime regime.”

5 Comments

  1. András B. Göllner says:

    Thank you, once again, Senator Cardin !!!!! Thank you for having the courage to speak up.

    Contrast this with the painfully shameful sound of silence emanating from Canada’s Jewish community, from Canada’s Hungarian diaspora, from such bodies as the Canadian Association of Hungarians (KMOSZ), from Orbán’s friends on Bay Street, and our own Canadian political establishment . It seems, that Hungary’s lobby strategy in Canada is more effective than in the USA. When will Canadians finally wake up to the wool being pulled over their eyes ??? Why can’t the Jewish community in Ottawa, that has such a great relationship with Ambassador Ódor recognize what Senator Cardin does ???? How many Nazi statues will it take for them to wake up and smell the roses ??? Aren’t the Prohászka statues, the Horthy statues, the celebrations Orbán’s lieutenants are having here with the soldiers that held up the liberation of Auschwitz enough ??? Why are our community leaders, our politicians in Canada asleep at the wheel about Hungary’s affinity fraud ???? And why do they find it necessary to dismiss anyone who warns them about the dangers of driving while asleep as a radical, or unfriendly act ????

  2. Charlie London says:

    Oh! Dear!

    Colleen – she of the Embassy – recently gave a speech where she thanked the Orban regime for NOT going ahead with the statue.

    Expect a backlash.

  3. Well, he was not fascist. He was an anti-Semite. Not the same thing. (And he did some other stuff, too, for which they want to erect a statute.)

    Second: Reagan has a statue in Budapest. He was responsible for way more suffering in Latin America and the Middle East than any Hungarian politician anywhere, ever. So there’s that. (And let’s not forget about the whole segregation while we’re at it. There are plenty of openly racist US politicians getting statues. Like Wilson.

    I’m not saying he needs a statute, I’m not saying he does not deserve one; I’m just pointing out the flaws and double standards here. Glass houses, stones, whatever.

    • Charlie London says:

      …..so how do you know he wasn’t a fascist?

      You either have to be a fascist – or support one to do what he did.

      Oh! And there’s that favourite Hungarian argument – It’s alright because others do it.

      Have you not yet realised that you can justify anything with this line?

      As a member of the EU you agree to abide by set values – geddit?

      We know Orban wouldn’t recognise a ‘value’ if it slammed him in the face – and you – as a Hungarian? – can’t either – just like too many of your compatriots.

      “Just give us the moolar!”

      When King Orban is in his castle – his coat of arms will be four ‘Moolar’ quadrants.

      What a rat.

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