The idea to erect a statue to wartime politician and notorious anti-semite Bálint Hóman was the idea of László L. Simon, undersecretary for culture at the Office of the Prime Minister, reports Hungarian news site nol.hu.
Gyula Fülöp, a former museum director, says László L. Simon (pictured) first approached him with the idea. According to Fülöp, Simon wanted Fülöp to lend his foundation’s name to the project.
Fülöp says he considered the proposal but eventually rejected it when he learned of Hóman’s controversial past. That’s when Simon asked the Bálint Hóman Cultural Foundation to get behind the project.
Nol.hu asked the undersecretary’s office to comment on the story. Simon’s press officer did not deny the validity of this information.
Prime Minister Viktor Orbán felt compelled to distance himself from the Hóman controversy in parliament on Tuesday. Mounting domestic and international criticism forced his hand, prompting him to say he does not support erecting the statue but that as Prime Minister he does not have the right to deprive civil associations of the right to do so.
The Bálint Hóman Cultural Foundation received some HUF 15 million from the Hungarian government and an additional HUF 2 million from Székesfehervár, L. Simon’s home town and Viktor Orbán’s birthplace.
Gábor Kováts, president of the foundation, said this week that it would pay back all public monies contributed by the government with a crowdfunding campaign, but insisted that the statue would still be erected.
Opposition city council representatives are calling for the city to revoke the foundation’s permit to erect the statue.