Shoes On The Danube – Budapest’s Moving Memorial

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When in Budapest you will without a doubt spend some time walking along the banks of the alluring River Danube. While walking you will come across a memorial consisting of 60 pairs of cast iron shoes. 

This moving memorial is to remember the Jews who were murdered here towards to end World War II between the years of 1944-1945. 

Cast iron shoes on danube embankment

The Story Behind The Shoes On The Danube

The reasoning behind the shoes on the banks of the river is to illustrate many of the victims were rounded up and shot here. Their bodies would then fall into the Danube and be carried away up stream. The victims, many of which were Jews, were enforced to remove their shoes prior to their execution. The memorial is to depict the shoes that were left behind. 

Nobody of any age or sex were spared. Shoes of men, women and children have been crafted as a remembrance to all.  

These horrific crimes were carried out by Arrow Cross Militiamen. This was during a time in Hungary when it was under the rule of the Arrow Cross Party.

Budapest Shoes on Danube

Hungary-0038 – Shoes on the Danube by Dennis Jarvis – Source: WikiCommons

Who Were The Arrow Cross Party

The Arrow Cross Party was founded in 1935 under the name of ‘The Party of Will. Due to its extremist views based around Nazi ideologies, the party was prohibited after 2 years. Despite this, the party was later reformed in 1939 and named the Arrow Cross Party.  

The party ruled Hungary between October 1944 to March 1945. Despite only taking power for several months the atrocities carried out during this time were vast. Tens of thousands of victims, of which were mainly Jewish, were murdered in the streets. Many thousands more were sent to concentration camps in neighbouring country, Austria. 

Its leader was Ferenc Szálasi. Szálasi was tried for war crimes at the end of World War II and was executed in March 1946.

Shoes on the danube plaque

Shoes on the Danube Promenade, 2009 Budapest-Mémorial plaque.jpg, by Pierre Bona – WikiCommons

Erected on 16th April 2005, it was the inspiration of film director Can Togay. Togay worked with sculpture Gyula Pauer to create the monument. Located in front of the Hungarian Parliament building on the Pest side of Budapest it is an emotional setting.  

Families of the victims often return to the banks and lay flowers to remember loved ones who were unlawfully murdered.

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