One of the more somber experiences while visiting Budapest was learning more about the history of the Jewish community in Hungary. We took a tour with a historian who provided insight into the past and the current situation. It appears that the current Hungarian government is shifting from acknowledging the Hungarian Government’s actions during the 1940s to portraying itself as a helpless victim of Nazi occupation. There is an ongoing protest about this at a recent memorial built by the government. We also learned more about many important Hungarian Jews and about the people who assisted the Jewish community, like Carl Lutz. We learned about the complex relationship for the Jewish people with Russians as the Russians gave Hungarian Jews “freedom” but also brought communism to their country. We visited the beautiful Great Synagogue and saw the Tree of Life Memorial. We learned the word Shoah as a preferred word about what we call the “holocaust”. And lastly (first photos) was seeing “The Shoes on the Danube Bank” memorial; a sight that stays with you. For me, it renewed my conviction to stand for equality for all people.
It appears that the current Hungarian government is shifting from acknowledging the Hungarian Government’s actions during the 1940s to portraying itself as a helpless victim of Nazi occupation. There is an ongoing protest about this at a recent memorial built by the government.
The protest signs explain that the Hungarian government erected this statue (first photo below) to explain how the Nazis attacked and took advantage of the Hungarian nation. The protesters make the case that this is disingenuous, that the Hungarian government worked with the Nazis. The statue was built with government funds for several million dollars and they want it removed.
The second photos is part of the protest against the statue. There were articles in many languages about the history of the Hungarian government’s role in the death of many jewish people prior to the agreement with Germany.
The Dohány Street Synagogue, also known as the Great Synagogue or Tabakgasse Synagogue, is a historical building in Erzsébetváros, the 7th district of Budapest, Hungary. It is the largest synagogue in Europe and the second largest in the world. The Tree of Life is in the synagogue’s courtyard. and is a sculpture designed as an upside-down menorah. Its branches hold leaves bearing the names of loved ones killed in the Holocaust.