Whilst exploring a new and unfamiliar country there is nothing as remarkable as the discovery of a sight or place that you were completely unaware of. This experience is even more astonishing when the discovery is so touching and harrowing that you are unable to forget.
This experience happened to me earlier this month while I was out exploring Budapest.
Whilst strolling beside the Danube River heading towards the magnificent Parliament building, I stumbled across something that I was not expecting.
Located alongside the Danube River is the ‘Shoes on the River Danube Promenade’.
The ‘Shoes on the River Danube Promenade’, is a memorial dedicated to the thousands of Hungarian Jews who were killed during World War Two. The memorial is designed by film director Can Togay and sculptor Gyula Pauer.
The Arrow Cross Party was a national socialist party who led the Hungarian government during October 1944 and March 1945. It was during this short ruling that ten to fifteen thousand Hungarians were murdered and around eighty thousand civilians were deported to Auschwitz concentration camp. Out of the many Hungarians who were brutally tortured and extradited a large majority were Jewish.
Of those Hungarians who were cruelly murdered many had been shot by the water’s edge. The party’s militants would line their victims up telling them to take off their shoes before shooting them and letting their bodies be taken away by the current of the river.
By making a simple yet touching memorial through individual iron shoes dotted about the promenade you are reminded of the thousands of innocent and unnecessary lives which were taken as a consequence of World War Two.
Although a sobering and chilling experience to stumble across these iron shoes, it does remind you of the history and conflict that lies behind such a beautiful city.
If you are planning a visit to Budapest make sure that you take a stroll down by the river and check out this thought-provoking memorial for yourself.