Budapest belongs amongst my top ten favourite cities in the world. That is why I decided to pay it a visit again and celebrate there my upcoming birthday together with my friends. As I was the only one in my group who had been to Budapest before, the role of a tour guide was naturally assigned to me. Leading my friends through the city and showing them the most popular attractions, I thought that I would actually like to see something I did not have a chance to see during my previous visits. And I knew right away what it would be.
I read about Shoes on Danube, an open-space WW2 memorial located right on the Danube shore before. I thought that this memorial was one of the sights that had to be added to my ‘to visit’ list, not only for its historical meaning but also because it is a reminder of how fortunate we all are…
The display of rusty 60 pair of metal shoes set between Széchenyi István tér and Parliament was created by the sculptors Gyula Pauer and Can Togay in the memory of the Hungarian Jewish victims. The killings committed by members of the fascist Arrow Cross Party in 1944 usually took place en masse. The victims were lined up along the Danube shore, executed by a shot into the river. The variety of shoes symbolizes that no one was spared by the fascists who made no distictions between men, women nor children.
Looking more closely at the shoes, I wondered about people who were once their owners. Who were these people and what kind of stories could they tell if they were still alive? One of the more famous victims was Miklos Vig, known as a singer of popular music on a radio. Born to a Jewish family, later on married into Hungarian catholic family, even he was forced to strip naked on the bank of Danube and executed.
When we visited this memorial, we did not expect that the shoes could create such a moving picture of events that happened (maybe not so) long ago. If visiting Budapest, this memorial should definitely be one of your stops because everyone should listen to the stories that these shoes could tell..