January 18, 2018

Ugly History in Budapest

When traveling I love learning about history of the area I am in.  The thing with history is, it isn’t always pretty or doesn’t always make us proud of those who came before us.  Nope, but it is history and important to look at as a way towards understanding people and societies.

Today we are a sum of all the events that have taken place in an earlier time and to evolve we need to embrace history.

Unfortunately Budapest has its fair share of the type of history that is really ugly and makes us uncomfortable.

War is ugly but WWII and its repercussions to  Jews was especially this way.  This was true for the Jews in Budapest too. Early during the war the Jews in Hungary were basically left alone since Hungary sided with the Nazi’s.  But as the war dragged on Hungarian support changed and so did the treatment of the Jews.Dohany Synagogue Exterior Budapest Hungary

In March 1944 Germany occupied Hungary. Ghettos were formed in Budapest and 200,000 Jews were moved into squalid conditions.  Food was not let in, waste and trash was not collected and the dead were piled high or buried in a mass grave at the Dohany Synagogue.Dohany Synagogue Interior Budapest Hungary

Budapest has many memorials to its Jews that lost their lives during WWII.  Some of these monuments are at the Dohany Street Synagogue, the 2nd largest synagogue in the world.

In the courtyard of the synagogue is the mass grave of thousands of Jews from the Budapest Ghetto. This is very unusual for a synagogue since according to Jewish law the dead are not to be buried on the grounds of a synagogue.  In this case, there really was no other option.Mass Grave Dohany Synagogue Budapest Hungary

As a memorial to all Hungarian victims of the Holocaust is the weeping willow. Made out of steel with each leaf containing a name of a victim, this commemoration was built in 1989 and sponsored, in part, by the Emanuel Foundation which was created by Tony Curtis in honor of his father, Emanuel Schwartz, who emigrated from Mateszalka Hungary to New York.Willow Tree Memorial Dohany Synagogue Budapest Hungary

One of the most disturbing is the “Shoes on the Danube” monument. On the edge of the Danube near the Parliament building you will see bronze shoes standing at the waters edge.  As the war was coming to its end, the Nazi’s realized they were loosing.  They installed the faschist Red Arrow Party in Budapest and empowered them to round up groups of Jews, take them to the rivers edge and shoot them so they would fall into the Danube.  Prior to shooting them, they were required to remove their shoes.     Estimates are that 10-15,000 Jews died in this manner.Shoes Along Danube Budapest Hungary

In 1941 there were about 246,000 Jews living in Budapest and at the end of the war almost 50% had died with most of these deaths occurring after May 1944.

History is philosophy teaching by example and also by warning.
Lord Bolingbroke


What’s your take on history?  Like it, love it or leave it?

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  1. The “image” template option features one particular
    image, plus the “single promotion”
    template includes a photo, description and call-to-action button. If making a label for multiple senders, make use of an OR from the filter or perhaps use multiple filters.
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  2. Gus says:

    It’s impressive that you are gettting thoughts from
    this piece of writing as well as from our discussion made at this place.
    Gus recently posted..Gus

  3. Jim says:

    Sad Debbie. Just haven’t felt like posting our pics up of the same memorials. Good to see yours and how you touched on this subject.
    Jim recently posted..Island Seduction: Samoa Rush!

  4. robin says:

    Important stories that need to be told – well done.
    robin recently posted..Las Nubes

  5. A great article. We spent a few days in Budapest a few years back and we completely missed out on all its Jewish history. Think we need to go back there. The shoes along the Danube is such a moving scene. I’m a complete history boffin and always head for the historic sites wherever we go – even the uncomfortable ones. I think it’s really important.

  6. That weeping willow memorial is stunning.
    The Travel Chica recently posted..Buenos Aires Odd Jobs: Advertising

  7. Good article Debbie.
    It always amazes me when people talk about having MORE government in their lives – this is the ultimate experience when government decides what is “best” for it’s people.
    Amazing what certain people have gone through in history – the Jews, the American Indians, the Mayans in Central America.
    History always shows mans inhumanity to man. It is the rare gems that shows the good in mankind. (Ghandi and Mother Theressa come to mind)
    I always keep these things in mind when looking at the growth of our government in the USA and the purchase of our politicians by corporations – not good at all.
    Thanks for sharing.
    John D. Wilson
    John D. Wilson recently posted..Rain, states of emergency, Occupy Wall Street – interesting times

  8. ashley says:

    Definitely not an easy part of history to learn and experience.I do believe they are very important to tell, so that history, in such circumstances, never repeats itself. Thank you for sharing this story..
    ashley recently posted..movers in DC

  9. Yes, WWII history in Europe is quite disturbing. I have visited many sights, including Auschwitz, and I am amazed every time at the actual facts and size of the war. We imagine it, we read about it… but we never quite get how big and omnipresent it really was until a visit to such an important place.
    Eurotrip Tips recently posted..Autumn In and Around the Alps

  10. I have to say, “Shoes on the Danube” is really disturbing to me. Sounds like Nazi had the mindset that if they cannot win, they will destroy everything with them. Definitely not an easy part of history to learn and experience.
    Annie – FootTracker recently posted..Monterey(3) Valley of Luxury & Hotness~Porsche Rennsport Reunion@Laguna Seca

  11. Emme Rogers says:

    I love history, although some like the tales told above make me feel ill and want to cry, especially the last story and monument of the shoes on the Danube.

    Even though I don’t find such stories pleasant, I do believe they are very important to tell, so that history, in such circumstances, never repeats itself.

    Thank you Debbie for taking the time to tell this story. I am sure it wasn’t easy for you.

    ~ Emme
    Emme Rogers recently posted..Would You Do It To Live the Whistler Dream?


  1. […] countries I’ve been in and their memorials to service men and women.  This reminded me of Budapest and Heroes’ Square. Millennium Monument Heroes Square Budapest Hungary by Paul […]

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