Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has received praise from Ronald S. Lauder, President of the World Jewish Congress, for his decision not to support a statue in the city of Székesfehérvár to honour the late historian and government minister Bálint Hóman, seen as having played a major role in the process leading to the Holocaust.
The life-size bronze statue of Mr. Hóman, who served as Minister of Religion and Education between 1932-1938 and betwen 1939-1942, was scheduled to be unveiled this month in the city of Székesfehérvár, west of the capital Budapest, with taxpayer funding.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán (L) with Mr. Lauder at the World Jewish Congress, Budapest, May 2013 (photo: nol.hu)
The accomplished expert in mediaeval Hungarian history was sentenced to life imprisonment for war crimes by the People’s Tribunal in 1946 and died in jail in 1951. On 6 March 2015 , he was rehabilitated after ruling by the Metropolitan Court of Budapest. He is also seen as having been a committed supporter of Hungary’s alliance with Nazi Germany and has been under fire for failing to resign his mandate as a lawmaker after the fascist Arrow Cross party seized power and began its reign of terror in late 1944.
“Prime Minister Orbán’s clear statement on this matter comes very late, but it is nonetheless welcome. 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.
“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”, Mr. Lauder wrote in a statement published on WJC’s website on Wednesday.
In statements in July and earlier this month, Mr. Lauder had called on Orbán to intervene in this matter and to ensure that this statue was not built with public funds.
He also welcomed welcomed the Hungarian Prime Minister’s Monday statement on his opposition to the erection of statues to honour interwar Hungarian leader Miklós Horthy, under whom Mr. Hóman served.