The head of a Holocaust organisation in the UK has slammed the decision to erect a statue of an anti-Semite in Hungary as “deeply offensive”.

Bálint Hóman

Bálint Hóman

Michael Newman from the Association of Jewish Refugees was responding to the imminent unveiling of a statue honouring Bálint Hóman, a Nazi sympathiser and a member of the Fascist Arrow Cross who said Jews were “subversive”.

There are several Hungarian Holocaust survivors in the UK and around the world, and Newman said the decision would be “a grave insult”. He added: “In the year when Hungary chairs the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, it would be both perplexing and duplicitous.”

AJR member Gabor Otvos, a child survivor of the Holocaust in Hungary, said: “I find it deeply upsetting. It makes a mockery of what the Hungarian government is saying about Holocaust education and fighting anti-Semitism, and is yet another illustration of Hungary’s unwillingness to accept its guilt in the preparation and execution of the extermination of Hungarian Jews.”

An historian and minister in successive fascist governments, Hóman was “instrumental in the delegitimisation of Jews,” said Otvos. “He believed Jews could never integrate because they were different and subversive.”

Although Hóman was later convicted of war crimes, he is held in deep affection by many in Hungary, and Jewish groups around the world have joined the campaign against the statue, with the World Jewish Congress and the Anti-Defamation League both criticising plans.