US lawmakers protest statue honoring Hungarian who deported Jews
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US lawmakers protest statue honoring Hungarian who deported Jews

House leaders say Balint Homan, a minister during WWII, ‘spearheaded anti-Jewish legislation, paved way for atrocities’

Balint Homan served as Hungary's Minister of Religion and Education during World War II. (Wikimedia Commons)
Balint Homan served as Hungary's Minister of Religion and Education during World War II. (Wikimedia Commons)

US congressional leaders have protested the construction of a monument in Hungary to a government minister who ordered the deaths of some 500,000 Jews during the Holocaust.

The co-chairs of the US House Bipartisan Task Force for Combating Anti-Semitism on Friday sent a letter to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban protesting the monument to Balint Homan, a minister in Hungary in the 1930s and 1940s. Homan participated in drafting legislation in 1938 and 1939 that restricted the rights of Hungarian Jews, and in 1944 he called for their deportation.

Some 420,000 Hungarian Jews were deported to Auschwitz in the summer of 1944.

The life-size bronze statue of Homan, largely funded by the Hungarian government, is scheduled to be unveiled this month in the city of Szekesfehervar.

The committee in its letter wrote of its “deep concern” about the statue, saying Homan “spearheaded Hungary’s anti-Jewish legislation and paved the way for deportations of and atrocities against Hungarian Jews during the Holocaust.”

“We urge you to publicly condemn Homan’s role in the persecution and deportation of innocent Hungarians and to withdraw government funding for the construction of this or any statue in his honor,” the members wrote.

The co-chairs of the task force are Reps. Nita Lowey, Eliot Engel and Steve Israel, all New York Democrats; Ted Deutch, D-Florida; Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Florida; Chris Smith, R-New Jersey; Kay Granger, R-Texas; and Peter Roskam, R-Illinois.

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