Washington Turns Up the Pressure on Hungary over Plans for Antisemitic Statue
Eight members of Congress have sent a forceful letter to Hungary’s Prime Minister calling on him to halt plans to fund construction of a statue commemorating Bálint Hóman, an antisemitic politician whose legislative actions in the 1930s and 1940s contributed to the repression and eventual deportation to Auschwitz of hundreds of thousands of Jews. But more can be done in Washington and the United States Embassy in Budapest to intensify pressure on Hungary.
On December 4, members of the House Bipartisan Taskforce for Combatting Anti-Semitism sent a letter to Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in which they expressed “deep concerns” and said that honoring Hóman would “exacerbate disturbing national trends of historical revisionism and rehabilitation of Hungary’s disgraced wartime leadership and are inconsistent with your stated policy of zero tolerance for anti-Semitism.” Hungary’s plan to commemorate Hóman is also at direct odds with its mission as the Chair of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.
The Taskforce’s letter aligns with Human Rights First’s call for the Obama Administration to pressure its Hungarian counterpart to scrap the statue. Senator Cardin is to be commended for speaking out as well.
Now the Helsinki Commission should add its voices to those condemning the planned monument, which would dishonor the memory of those who perished in the Holocaust. U.S Ambassador Bell—who in October “applaud[ed] the leaders of the Hungarian government who have objected to raising a statue of Bálint Hóman”—should again speak out. Most importantly, senior State Department officials in DC should issue a public statement opposing the plan and reinforcing the message of the U.S. Embassy in Budapest.