Different Shoes in Budapest
Not far from the Hungarian Parliament Building on the Pest side of the River Danube, you’ll find a very unusual Holocaust Monument. On the embankment along the river are 50 pairs of bronze shoes, dotted along for a few hundred feet. There are small kids’ shoes, pretty dress shoes, casual shoes, boots. They are bronze, but look almost like real leather footwear. Some of the shoes have a candle or a ribbon, some a small succulent plant growing inside. Many have pebbles inside—not sure of the significance of that.
This monument commemorates the Jews who were killed when the Nazis’ puppet government, the Arrow Cross, came to power in Hungary in 1944. Many Jewish people were sent to concentration camps, but the Arrow Cross massacred some of them right here, shooting them and letting their bodies fall into the Danube.
The bronze plaque set into the sidewalk reads: “To the memory of the victims shot into the Danube by Arrow Cross militiamen in 1944-45. Erected 16th April 2005.”
It’s a sobering and spine-chilling feeling to see these shoes here, and to be almost able to stand in those people’s shoes. People wander along the edge of the river, stop, ponder and take photos. Some light a new candle, everyone is rather quiet. It’s a simple monument in a way, but very effective, as the reality of those events is easily imaginable here on the side of the Danube.