Hungarian neo-Nazi celebration (illustration)
Hungarian neo-Nazi celebration (illustration)Reuters

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) issue a stern rebuke on Thursday against plans in a Hungarian city to erect a statue honoring a well-known anti-Semitic minister who was a Nazi ally in power during World War II.

Municipal leaders in the Hungarian city of Székesfehérvár came up with the idea to build a life-size bronze statue of Bálint Homan, who served as Minister of Religion and Education between both 1932-1938 and 1939-1942. The project is being largely funded by a grant from the Hungarian Justice Ministry. 

Homan was a noted historian before coming to politics in the 1930s. He took part in legislation against Jews calling to expel them after the German occupation of Hungary in 1944 and died in prison in 1951, serving time for war crimes charges.

Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, called on Hungary to cancel the plans to build the statue.

"Balint Homan sponsored anti-Jewish laws, was a Nazi supporter, and a minister under the anti-Semitic Horthy regime," said Foxman. "Honoring him would send a terrible message to Hungarian society."

Foxman noted that Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban "committed to a zero tolerance policy for anti-Semitism and this is a perfectly fitting case to apply it. Erecting a statue to honor someone who has such a vivid and horrific past should never have risen to consideration in Hungary."

ADL recently held its annual poll of anti-Semitic attitudes around the world, and found that a full 40% of Hungarians agree with a majority of anti-Semitic stereotypes. That ratio had remained unchanged in 2014 and 2015 results.

Likewise, the polls found 25% of Hungarians think the figure of six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust was exaggerated.