Monday, April 5, 2010

A Tragic Piece of History in Budapest

April 6, 2010; Heather

Just 58 days before the Liberation of Budapest by the Russian Army, Nazi extremists took over the control of the city. The Jewish population in the city had been herded into a ghetto earlier while those in the countryside had been rounded up and sent to the death camps. The people in the ghetto had suffered a horrible winter with many dying of starvation and exposure.

The Nazis knew the war was lost but in their unrelenting hatred for the Jewish people, they spent their last 58 days in Budapest in a unmitigated reign of terror. Over 100,00 Jews who had survived the deprivations of winter were systematically slaughtered their bodies left piled all through the ghetto. One of the first tasks of those who liberated the city was to bury those victims. Many were buried in mass graves in the courtyard garden of the Great Synagogue in Budapest.

The Synagogue had been the symbol of the acceptance that the Jewish people had felt in Hungary. It was built in the mid 1800's with the help of non Jewish people in recognition of their support and patriotism for Hungary. In Hungary the Jews were free from many of the depredations they suffered in other near by countries. The building is magnificent and unique. But now it bears it's own part of the history of Holocaust tragedy.

In the courtyard there is a beautiful and symbolic monument to the victims of the Holocaust. It is a Menorah that is upside down and in the shape of a weeping willow tree with the name or number of a victim on each leaf. The hollow black stone tablets represent the Ten Commandments with the moral meaning of the commandments cut out by the actions of those responsible for the Holocaust. This memorial was sponsored by Tony Curtis who was Jewish and whose parents came from Hungary. In front of the tree there is a stone marker with the Hungarian word for "we remember" chiseled on it. It is important to remember these people and their history.

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