Hungarian Jews protest another statue to honor WWII-era lawmaker

Cnaan Liphshiz

(JTA) — Hungarian Jews protested a new government plan to honor a Holocaust-era politician who supported anti-Semitic legislation.

The controversy that unfolded Tuesday between the Mazsihisz umbrella group of Jewish communities and the government concerns a statue scheduled to be unveiled in Budapest in the presence of government officials on Wednesday of Gyorgy Donath – a lawmaker who supported discriminatory laws against Jews that historians say served as the legal foundation for their persecution by the German Nazis and their Hungarian collaborators.

This “far-right, anti-Semitic politician deserves no statue in Hungary,” Mazsihisz wrote in a statement published Tuesday.

The controversy about the unveiling of a statue of Donath closely follows an earlier scandal involving a plan to commemorate Balint Homan, a Hungarian Holocaust-era minister who supported and promoted the same laws. In December, following protests by Mazsihisz, Orban said that the plans by a nonprofit organization dedicated to Homan’s legacy to erect the monument in his honor in Szekesfehervar near Budapest will not come to pass.

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In 2014, Mazsihisz briefly suspended its talks with Orban’s center-right government in protest of its support of yet another controversial commemorative project – a statue dealing with Hungary under the rule of Nazi Germany and its pro-Nazis collaborators.

Unveiled in July that year in Budapest, it is a statue of an angel being attacked by a German eagle – a design which critics say glosses over Hungary’s active role in sending some 450,000 Jews to their deaths during the Holocaust. The Hungarian government disputes the interpretation, arguing the figure attacked represents all victims of fascism and not the Hungarian state.

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