Addressing a ceremony on the International Holocaust Remembrance Day at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, President Obama highlighted that the U.S. have put pressure on the Hungarian government to stop the erection of a statue in honour of the antisemitic politician Bálint Hóman who contributed to anti-Jewish laws in Hungary and served government in the World War II time. Obama made it clear that such a statue would seriously impact bilateral relations. In a response posted on the Hungarian government’s web site, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s press office conceded that there had been a U.S. opposition to the planned statue of Hóman. Orbán strongly objected to this “ill-advised” interference, and said such behavior only hinders progress towards solutions to problems. This episode of the diplomatic tension between US and Hungary was reported by major news media in Hungary.
Bálint Hóman served as Minister of Culture and Public Education from 1932 to 1942 and promoted anti-Jewish legislation, and even urged the deportation of Jews in 1944. After the war he was sentenced to life imprisonment on trumped up war crimes charges, and died in prison. He was rehabilitated by the court in 2015. Report on his anti-Semitic activities surfaced in public discourse after the plans to erect his statue had been made public. Originally, these plans were supported by the city government of Székesfehérvár, and allegedly even Prime Minister Orbán. After the demonstrations and protests against the statute, they withdrew their support and finally Viktor Orbán publicly declared his opposition to the statue. The initiator – Bálint Hóman Foundation – of the statue conceded, but has not fully dropped the idea yet.