Hungarian Jews protest another statue to honor WWII-era lawmaker


(JTA) — Hungarian Jews protested a new government plan to honor a Holocaust-era politician who supported anti-Semitic legislation.

It was the second time in three months the Mazsihisz umbrella group of Jewish communities challenged a statue for a Hungarian lawmaker from that era.

The controversy that unfolded Tuesday between Mazsihisz and the government concerns a statue of Gyorgy Donath scheduled to be unveiled Wednesday in Budapest in the presence of government officials. Donath supported discriminatory laws against Jews that historians say served as the legal foundation for their persecution by the German Nazis and their Hungarian collaborators.

This “far-right, anti-Semitic politician deserves no statue in Hungary,” Mazsihisz wrote in a statement published Tuesday.

In December, Mazsihisz protested a plan to commemorate Balint Homan, a Hungarian Holocaust-era minister who supported and promoted the same laws. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said the plans by a nonprofit organization dedicated to Homan’s legacy to erect the monument in his honor in Szekesfehervar, near Budapest, will not come to pass.

In 2014, Mazsihisz briefly suspended its talks with Orban’s center-right government in protest of its support of another controversial commemorative project — a statue dealing with Hungary under the rule of Nazi Germany and its pro-Nazi collaborators.

Unveiled in July that year in Budapest, the statue is an angel being attacked by a German eagle – a design that critics say glosses over Hungary’s active role in sending some 450,000 Jews to their deaths during the Holocaust. The Hungarian government disputes the interpretation, arguing the figure attacked represents all victims of fascism and not only the Hungarian state.

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