A group of Jewish members of the United States Congress have protested the construction of a monument in Hungary to a former interwar government minister and accomplished historian who they accuse of playing a major role in the process leading to the Holocaust.
The co-chairs of the U.S. House Bipartisan Taskforce for Combatting Anti-Semitism on Friday sent a letter to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán protesting the monument to Bálint Hóman, a conservative minister in Hungary in the 1930s and ’40s, during the interwar Horthy era. In the letter, they claim that Mr. Hóman participated in drafting legislation in 1938 and ’39 that restricted the rights of Hungarian Jews, and in 1944 he called for their deportation. Some 420 000 Hungarian Jews were deported to Auschwitz in the summer of 1944.
The life-size bronze statue of Mr. Hóman, who served as Minister of Religion and Education between 1932-1938 and betwen 1939-1942, is largely funded by the Hungarian government and scheduled to be unveiled this month in the city of Székesfehérvár, west of the capital Budapest.
The committee in its letter wrote of its “deep concern” about the statue, saying Mr. Hóman “spearheaded Hungary’s anti-Jewish legislation and paved the way for deportations of and atrocities against Hungarian Jews during the Holocaust.”
“We urge you to publicly condemn Hóman’s role in the persecution and deportation of innocent Hungarians and to withdraw government funding for the construction of this or any statue in his honor,” the members wrote.
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.
On Thursday, Ronald S. Lauder, chairman of the World Jewish Congress, callled upon the Hungarian Prime Minister to prevent the statue from being erected.