Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Tuesday Treasures

Tom the backroads traveller hosts this weekly meme.

October 2012 - Budapest Hungary

On Sunday I showed you a tour we took called the Jewish Interest in Budapest Hungary.

The tour continued with a stop at the Holocaust Museum. Unfortunately, we did not have a lot of time and you could easily spend a whole day here. Some people, however, cannot handle it and often come back out immediately. 

The museum was created around a synagogue which is no longer in use as there are not enough Jews left in Budapest to support the number of synagogues they had before the Holocaust. 



The Holocaust Memorial Center pays tribute to the victims of the Hungarian Holocaust. The complex, inaugurated in 2004, houses a synagogue, a museum and an inner courtyard with a glass memorial wall dedicated to the over 500,000 victims with their names inscribed on the wall. The museum's permanent exhibition tells the history of the Holocaust through the stories of individuals in an interactive way. Original documents and personal belongings are on display.


It was an eerie, disturbing place to visit. It also includes the gypsies, Romas as part of the displays as the Nazis included them in their persecutions as well.


When the Soviet Army captured Budapest on January 17-18, 1945, it was too late to save the lives of 564,500 Jews who had been sent to the various death-camps run by the Nazis. The Budapest SS headquarters, however, was over-run by the Soviets before the Nazis were able to destroy a huge number of papers which documented their efforts to annihilate the Hungarian Jews. These documents, together with many of the photographs that are part of this essay, were bundled up by the Soviets and stored in the basement of the Hungarian Ministry of the Interior where they remained unseen for over forty years.


As you walked around in partial darkness, you could hear footsteps following you.




 One of the priests who saved many Jews.


Glass chairs represent the victims in the unused synagogue.



Outside in the courtyard.





The practice of burying the dead with flowers is almost as old as humanity. Even in prehistoric caves some burial sites have been found with evidence that flowers were used in interment. But Jew­ish authorities have often objected to bringing flowers to the grave. There are scattered Talmudic mentions of spices and twigs used in burial (Berakhot 43a, Betzah 6a). Yet the prevailing view was that bringing flowers smacks of a pagan custom.

That is why today one rarely sees flowers on the graves in traditional Jewish cemeteries. Instead there are stones, small and large, piled without pattern on the grave, as though a community were being haphazardly built.



But stones have a special character in Judaism. In the Bible, an altar is no more than a pile of stones, but it is on an altar that one offers to God. The stone upon which Abraham takes his son to be sacrificed is called even hashityah, the foundation stone of the world. The most sacred shrine in Judaism, after all, is a pile of stones — the Western Wall.

I like this explanation.

While flowers may be a good metaphor for the brevity of life, stones seem better suited to the permanence of memory. Stones do not die.




 We make one more stop at a very sad memorial that will send shivers up your spine. It is called Shoes on the Danube and is located in front of the parliament and between the two bridges along the Danube.




The Shoes on the Danube is a memorial to the Budapest Jews who were shot by Arrow Cross militiamen between 1944 and 1945. The victims were lined up and shot into the Danube River. They had to take their shoes off, since shoes were valuable belongings at the time.
The Nazis had installed the fascist Hungarian Red Arrow Party as the country’s national government. Herds of Red Arrow members, mostly teenage boys, would rampage the streets of Budapest firing at will at Jews. The most notorious massacres were when mobs of supporters would round up groups of Jews and march them to the banks of the Danube. Here, after being made to take off their shoes, they would be blasted into the icy waters. Around 10,000 to 15,000 were killed in this way.





The memorial was created by Gyula Pauer, Hungarian sculptor, and his friend Can Togay in 2005. It contains 60 pairs of iron shoes, forming a row along the Danube. Each pair of shoes was modeled after an original 1940's pair.

5 comments:

  1. ...and to think that our President is friends to Holocaust deniers. If we don't learn from history, we will relive it. Thanks Jackie for sharing this impressive memorial. Enjoy your week.

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  2. A well documented tour of Budapest...of the holocaust. We must remember these evil deeds.

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  3. Haunting, to say the least. I've known about the shoes, having had seen it before in photoblogs from Budapest.

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  4. This was so moving! So disturbing and yet so wonderful about the people whose memories are kept safe there. I am one of those people who couldn't go through the museum, I am sure. Just too upsetting! Humanity can be so cruel...but so wonderful too. Great post!

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  5. A spine tingling post, Jackie. It is important to remember and honour the victims of the Holocaust.
    Thanks for taking part in the Travel Tuesday meme.

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