Jewish WWII Memorial

Along the Pest side of the Danube Promenade you can find a touching yet powerful scene in Budapest. It is a row of statued shoes, representing the Jewish victims who lost their life during World War II in Budapest. The memorial was created by Gyula Pauer and Can Togay in 2005. It contains 60 pairs of iron shoes, forming a row of about 40 meters. Each pair was modelled after a contemporary 1940′s pair.

The shoes on the Danube promenade is a commemoration dedicated to the victims of the fascist Arrow Cross party. In March, the German Wehrmacht invaded its ally Hungary. In May 1944 mass deportations commenced. In less than two months some 440,000 Jews were deported. Nearly 200,000 remained incarcerated in Budapest. Between December 1944 and the end of 1945, the Arrow Cross took as many as 20,000 Jewish men, women and children from the ghetto forced them to line up along the edge of the water and were then shot, so their bodies fell into the Danube and were carried away. They had to take their shoes off, since shoes were valuable at the time. Jews were indiscriminately murdered until the ghetto’s liberation on January 18, 1945. Along with shoes you can find a plaque with an inscription that reads- “To the memory of the victims shot into the Danube by arrow cross militiamen in 1944-45″.

This site is visited to honor the history of the Jewish heritage. Such grim reminders are essential so that we know how we got a ‘peaceful present’ today. It is a very compelling, yet very simple memorial and requires no words to understand its great importance. To get there: Take Streetcar 2 either to Roosevelt tér or to Kossuth tér. The memorial is between the Parliament Building and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, by the Danube.

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