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Justice ministry under Navracsics may have violated law by funding Hóman statue

Hungarian news site Index.hu reports that the Hungarian government may have broken its own laws when the justice ministry gave HUF 15 million (USD 55,000) to an organization calling itself the Bálint Hóman Cultural Foundation so that it might erect a statue in honor of the wartime leader and notorious anti-semite.

A medievalist by profession, Hóman served as the secretary of the Hungarian National Academy of Sciences.  He was a member of parliament before and during the Second World War, including the fascist Arrow Cross parliament of Ferenc Szálasi, with whom he fled Hungary in 1944.  The two were captured by the Americans and turned over to Hungarian authorities.  Szálasi was hanged.  Hóman was sentenced to life in prison where he died in 1951.

According to Index.hu, the Fidesz government adopted legislation at the end of 2012 which explicitly forbids any organization bearing the name of any individual tied to tyrannical regimes in Hungary from operating in Hungary.

Bálint Hóman, who stood with Hungary’s Arrow Cross Party until the end of the war, was convicted of war crimes by Hungary’s People’s Court after the war. He was rehabilitated by a Budapest Court in March 2015, but his involvement with Hungary’s tyrannical wartime regime remains a historical fact, reports Index.hu.

Not only was Hóman involved in the preparation and adoption of Hungary’s anti-Jewish laws, he continued to remain involved in the Hungarian government when the Arrow Cross Party regime came to power.

A total of HUF 17 million in public funds was contributed towards the erection of the statue.  In addition to the Ministry of Justice the Székesfehérvár city council contributed HUF 2 million (USD 7,200).

Having received letters of protest from prominent Jewish leaders as well as members of the United States Congress, Székesfehérvár mayor András Cser-Palkovics backed off from the project to erect the statue on Friday (despite continuing to support the idea a few days earlier). Cser-Palkovics also called on the Bálint Hóman Cultural Foundation to return to donors the public funds donated for the statue’s erection.

Index.hu reports that the justice ministry blames its predecesor ministry, the Ministry of Justice and Public Administation (2010 to 2014), for donating the funds to the apparently unlawfully-operating Bálint Hóman Cultural Foundation. The ministry’s then minister, Tibor Navracsics, is now the European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport.

The Bálint Hóman Cultural Foundation will announce on Tuesday whether it plans on going through with the controversial statue.

Fidesz has a very selective memory when it comes to the complicity of public figures in the persecution of Hungary’s Jews.  By his own admission before the Hungarian national assembly, minister for education Kuno Klebelsberg (1875-1932) was instrumental in implementing Hungary’s Numerus Clausus laws, which effectively limited the number of Jews that could attend university. This simple fact didn’t prevent the Fidesz government naming the national education system agency after him in 2012.

Benjamin Novak :