Living Memorial activists: A statement on the decision to cancel the Bálint Hóman statue

Our readers will recall the controversy surrounding plans to erect a statue to virulent anti-Semite and interwar politician Bálint Hóman in the town of Székesfehérvár. Those plans have been scrapped and the activist group at the centre of the campaign against the monument, who are also behind a moving alternative memorial to the Holocaust in Budapest’s Freedom Square, issued the following statement, which we translated into English.

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On this day, one day after the Székesfehérvár municipal government’s decision to rescind the permit to erect the Hóman-statue, we have dismantled our own counter-monument in the town, which served as a memorial to the Holocaust victims of Székesfehérvár and of Fejér county as a whole. We feel that we have reached our goal: in Székesfehérvár, and hopefully elsewhere in the country, it will no longer be possible to erect a statue in memory of a politician who played a key, initiating role in developing Hungary’s antisemitic laws, in stripping hundreds of thousands of Jews of their rights, in ostracizing and humiliting them, and ultimately in preparing the way for their extermination.

We decided to remove our installation because, in contrast to what Székesfehérvár’s mayor, András Cser-Palkovics, has accused us of, we do not intend to disturb societal peace within the town. That having been said, we did leave two white chairs, facing each other, as a symbol of the importance and necessity of dialogue. Nothing highlights the need for dialogue more than the fact that a barbaric act was committed the night before, when unknown perpetrators set fire to a number of photographs and documents placed around our memorial to the victims of the Holocaust.

Hungary’s prime minister declared in Parliament that a statue in honour of Bálint Hóman cannot be erected, because he collaborated with the German occupiers. This rationale is a repeat of the lies expressed around the Budapest Monument to German Occupation. As such, the installation recently removed from Székesfehérvár will be moved to Freedom Square (Szabadság tér) in Budapest and will serve as a reminder that even today, the Hungarian government does not accept the Hungarian state’s responsibility in the persecution of Hungarians of Jewish origins, the stripping of their rights, their deportation and death. While the installation within the context of the Hóman statue is no longer relevant, it remains valid when seen within the broader picture of the mendacious politics of public memory, and the relating protests. As such, it will remain a part of the Living Memorial project.

The Székesfehérvár and Budapest activists of the Living Memorial Project

The Living Memorial Group's logo.

The Living Memorial Group’s logo.

2 Comments

  1. Such good news just before Christmas. But what does the double E, in the Living Memorial logo, signify? (It’s an elegant and expressive logo!)

    • Christopher Adam says:

      Gretchen,

      The double “E” stands for “Eleven Emlékmű” which is Hungarian for Living Memorial (or Monument), depending on how one translates it.

      Chris