Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Shoes along the Duna

Far away, it just looks like people misplaced their shoes along the Duna. Up close, you realize that these are bronze replicas of shoes. This marks the site where many Jewish victims lost their lives.

This part I knew as I took these photos on a walk with Kat one rainy afternoon. It was not a weary day considering the weather conditions. But, when my footsteps wandered across the paths of these unlaced shoes with their tongues pulled out, my heart did feel a little weary. I sent my photos to many friends and family members and was asked several times, "What is the story behind the shoes"?

The Shoes on the Danube Promade was created by a man named Gyula Pauer and is a memorial on the bank of the Danube in Budapest. It is a memorial to the people who fell victim to the Arrow Cross Militiamen in Budapest and depicts their shoes left behind as they were cast into the river after having just been shot during WWII. There were shoes of men, women and children, including the shoes of a toddler posted above.
I was struck by the little shoes. I could not imagine holding a gun up to a toddling toddlers little head for the beliefs he is too young to possess. This made me think about this story and want to know more about what happened. So I researched the history of this instillation piece.
During WWII between 250 and 400 workers worked around the clock to prevent its Jewish population from being sent to the many concentrations camps that marked the war. They were housed at the Swedish Embassy and other buildings in the area. On January 8, 1945 all of the inhabitants were rounded up and taken away to the banks of the river by the Arrow Cross Execution Brigade. Still wanting to prevent a massacre, 20 policemen armed with bayonets rescued them all, and helped them to flee the country. The survivors remember how they were lucky to escape the fate that their loved ones endured the Christmas the year before, being shot and thrown into the cold Danube river.
This is the site where Jewish men, women, and children lost their lives. The place where they were shot for their beliefs and thrown into the icy winter waters as a means of extermination only after they removed their ever so valuable shoes. They may have lost their lives, but the memory and their shoes remain forever.


Kat said...

Thanks for researching Laura! I didn't know the whole story, although seeing several shoes lined up along the Danube does pique one's curiosity. It is terrible that toddlers were shot for their "non-existent beliefs."

SunnyHeirReborn3 said...

went to the Holocaust Exhibition in London last week - appreciate the photos and your thoughts - sure is harrowing.

My real anxiety is that we (the world) dont seem to have been able to take on board any lessons from the Holocaust - look at Africa atm.. and Europe - what 10 years ago? How is it possible for such killing to still be taking place?

zhaoman said...

You might find the following video interesting. The first part is related to your post's topic, but the end has some actual political content.

Anonymous said...

These are wonderful photos. among the best I've seen. One small correction: the shoes are made of iron and not of bronze. According to the sculptor, the idea was to use a metal of no value, so as to prevent theft. As it happens, vandals did pry up some of the shoes,and no one knew what happened to them. But it turns out that they were thrown into the Danube (macabre replay)and they resurface d when the Danube water level lowered drastically because of drought. When I was there the summer before last (06), there were some pairs with a shoe missing.
But I guess this is the best one can hope for.

dina said...

wonderful arrangements of shoes....looking nice..It looks like my favorite josef seibel shoes

szalaicdaniel said...

The Memorial was created by Gyula Pauer sculptor and Can Togay filmdirector

Coolstein said...

"This is the site where Jewish men, women, and children lost their lives. The place where they were shot for their beliefs and thrown into the icy."

Maybe this is just semantics... but the nazi holocaust did not kill Jews for their beliefs. A Jew was not saved if he or she was athiest, if he or she had converted or even if he or she only had one Jewish grandparent and was a practicing Christain.

Jews were killed for their ethnicity, not for their religion.

Marco Lafebre said...

Hi Laura. Thank you for the pictures and the story about them.
I been 1n budapest in fall for the last 3 years, 2005, 2006 and 2007 and I have come to this point every time I was there. I partially knew the story as my Hungarian friends were able to let me know. Everytime we've been there we have prayed for healing of emotions of all those who have lost their beloved ones in the Duna. I'm a Christian Lay preacher and I mainly minister to the Gyspy in different towns of Hungary.If you have some time you can explore my blog about my travels into Europe,
Thank you.

koan said...

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