Jewish leaders have welcomed the Hungarian prime minister’s decision not to support a statue honouring a fascist who helped facilitate the deportation of Jews during the Holocaust.

Ronald S Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, said a statue dedicated to former government minister Balint Homan would have been “an affront to the many Hungarian victims of the Holocaust” and praised Prime Minister Vikter Orban for voicing his opposition.

Lauder said: “Prime Minister Orban’s clear statement on this matter comes very late, but it is nonetheless welcome. I thank him for making the standpoint of the Hungarian government very clear: No honours must be given to those who prepared the ground for the mass murder of 600,000 Hungarian Jews by Nazi Germany in 1944.

balint homan

Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban has voiced opposition to a statue honouring former government official and fascist Balint Homan

“It would have been a travesty if the taxpayer, including more than 100,000 Hungarian Jews, would have had to contribute toward a statue for a man who not only hated Jews, but who helped actively in their persecution.”

Orban also rejected moves to erect a statue in honour of Miklos Horthy, in whose government Homan served. Horthy ruled Hungary from 1920 to 1944 and was in power when the country aligned with Hitler’s Germany from 1933.

The campaign to erect a life-size bronze statue honouring Hóman in the small city of Székesfehérvár was started by the Bálint Hóman Foundation, which had hoped to fund the project with a grant from the Hungarian Justice Ministry.

A private fundraising campaign has now been started to pay for the statue, which was due to be unveiled on 29 December.