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It’s one of the least edifying episodes in Hungarian history.  The country likes to look back on the heroism of the ’56 Uprising against Russian vassalage, but I discovered on a recent Danube cruise a reminder of a more shameful image of its past.

I was unaware of the “Budapest Shoes” until our visit there.  These are iron sculptures of 60-odd pairs of shoes near the Parliament building by the Danube.  They commemorate hundreds of Hungarian nationals, mostly Jews who were rounded up from within the city, who were shot on its bank such that their bodies would topple over into the waters to float away.  Some, it is said, were tied together in 2’s and 3’s so that as one of them was shot the others would follow them in to drown.

Victims would be made to remove their shoes, a valuable commodity, before being despatched.

This took place at the end of the Second World War and a quick telling would lead you to believe that the killers were German.  They were not.

The reality is that they were shot by fellow Hungarians of the fascist Arrow Cross Party, an organisation faithfully pro-Nazi and the militia of the German-installed puppet government.

Nearby signs read “To the memory of victims shot into the Danube by Arrow Cross militiamen in 1944/45”.

The sculpture is both indescribably beautiful and heartbreaking.





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John Coopey

Mon 1st Jul 2024 16:41

Quite, David. We should never take our freedoms for granted. They need constant defending.
It is a work-in-progress, Graham. I haven’t chopped it into little lines yet.
And thanks for the Likes, Stephen and Patricia.

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M.C. Newberry

Mon 1st Jul 2024 16:39

The history of Europe is the history of man's inhumanity to man.
Ukraine itself had its share of such activities as allies of the Nazis
in WW2. There were also military bodies in occupied lands that strutted to the Nazi tune then and participated in such activity.
Vichy France was one glaring example, with the behaviour of its
Milice towards local French folk even causing comment in the Gestapo! Indeed, a notable Paris Gestapo chief was himself
a Frenchman.

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Graham Sherwood

Mon 1st Jul 2024 15:44

Couldn't this be turned into poetry JC?

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David RL Moore

Mon 1st Jul 2024 14:53

There were many persecuted groups in Hungary, not least thousands of Gypsies whose culture bled into the Hungarian Psyche...even so they were massacred and othered by their own and given up to the SS.

Never let it be said that this could not happen again, it too easily is, and it will.

A worthwhile reminder John.

PS...far too many people have no idea such things ever occurred.

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John Coopey

Mon 1st Jul 2024 14:38

Murdered by their own people, Tim.

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Tim Higbee

Mon 1st Jul 2024 13:35

I hadn't heard of this one. Another example of the atrocities' humanity is capable of.
Thank you, John

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