(JTA) — The World Jewish Congress has called on a central Hungarian city to abandon plans to honor a World War II government minister allied with the Nazis.
Balint Homan served as minister of religion and education under Miklos Horthy and the Arrow Cross regime from October 1944 to March 1945, during which as many as 15,000 Hungarian civilians, mostly Jews, were killed and 80,000 were deported to Nazi concentration and death camps.
Municipal leaders in Szekesfehervar, which with a population of 100,000 is one of the largest cities in Hungary, are planning to erect a life-size bronze statue in honor of Homan. It will be funded in large part through a grant from the Hungarian Justice Ministry, according to WJC.
“Seventy years after the end of World War II, it is inconceivable and wrong for a city to erect a statue in honor of a known anti-Semite and a key figure in the persecution of Hungarian Jews before and during World War II,” WJC President Ronald Lauder said in a statement this week. “Homan was an outspoken supporter of Nazi Germany and the fascist Arrow Cross regime in 1944, and he remained unrepentant until his death.”
Andras Heisler, president of the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities and a WJC vice president, called Homan “an emblematic figure in the humiliation and deportation of Hungarian Jews” and “an anti-Semite who does not deserve to be honored.”
Homan was charged with war crimes in 1946 and sentenced to life in prison, where he died in 1951.