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Sunday, 20 December 2015

Hungary scraps planned statue of WWII-era "anti-Semitic" lawmaker

 The planned statue of a key architect of anti-Semitic laws in the run-up to the Holocaust in 1930s Hungary was scrapped on Friday after an outcry from Jewish groups and others.

The foundation behind the planned memorial to Balint Homan said it has “reversed its decision to erect the statue and has informed the city hall of Szekesfehervar” in central Hungary.
The life-sized statue of Homan, a minister in the Nazi-allied Hungarian government before the 1944 German occupation, had been scheduled to be unveiled on December 29 for the 130th anniversary of his birth.
But the planned event drew several hundred protesters — including Washington’s special envoy on anti-Semitism Ira Forman — to the monument’s building site on Sunday, and on Tuesday the unveiling was postponed.
The Homan foundation, some of whose members are linked to the radical far-right Jobbik party, has received both state and municipal funding for the project. The foundation wanted to honor Homan for his contributions to the city.
The covered statue base of a planned statue in honor of Balint Homan who as a Hungarian minister during the World War II era drafted legislation that restricted the rights of Hungarian Jews and called for their deportation, December 13, 2015. (AFP/ATTILA KISBENEDEK)
The covered statue base of a planned statue in honor of Balint Homan who as a Hungarian minister during the World War II era drafted legislation that restricted the rights of Hungarian Jews and called for their deportation, December 13, 2015. (AFP/ATTILA KISBENEDEK)
Homan supported calls for the deportation of Jews from Hungary in 1944 after the Nazi takeover. Around 600,000 Hungarian Jews were later transported to Nazi death camps and murdered.
After World War II, Homan was handed a life sentence for his role in approving Hungary joining Nazi Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union. He died in prison in 1951.
However, a Budapest court in March found there had been a lack of evidence for his conviction, after which Szekesfehervar City Hall approved the statue plan.
Balint Homan (YouTube screen grab)
Balint Homan (YouTube screen grab)
The right-wing government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban has sometimes been accused of cosying up to Jobbik and glossing over Hungary’s role in the deportation of Jews, despite vows of “zero tolerance” for anti-Semitism.
Orban had denounced the planned statue.

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