Monday, November 9, 2009

shoes on the danube promenade

Budapest is full of sculptures, monuments and statues of all shapes and sizes, but this one in particular moved me so deeply, it needed its own post. Shoes on the Danube Promenade by Gyula Pauer and Can Togay, is a memorial to the Jews who were shot into the Danube at the hands of the Hungarian fascist group, Arrow Cross, during WWII. There are 60 pairs of iron shoes, forming a row of about 40 metres.

I can't think of a more personal item than shoes. They form to your individual shape and are worn down by your experiences. You dance in them, walk miles in them, you run in them. Every pair in this memorial reminds you of the person— she was short and balanced on the balls of her feet to better reach things, he ground down the soles of those boots between work and home every day— those tiniest shoes held feet that just learned to walk.

Watching the silent grey river, I was overwhelmed, knowing how the same spot was stared at with frightened eyes— how the water's coldness would be the last thing that so many people would feel. Grey turned red, eventual silence. I couldn't help but look at my own shoes, and feel thankful for all I have been given in life.


curiouscrow said...

I'm deeply moved reading this post. We need more sculpture like this in the world, to remind us and help us to live better in the future.

I love your blog and your sketches - been reading for a while now :)

szaza said...

Thank you so much, curiouscrow.
I'm so happy to hear you like my work :)

I agree, there is nothing like being moved by art. This was the first piece in a long time that brought tears to my eyes.

mazalart said...

The 800,000 Jews in Hungary were the last to be murdered in Europe, all within the last 10 weeks before the liberation. (Liberation? Hungary was a Nazi ally, so I guess that many viewed it as a defeat or occupation, and not as liberation.)

The deportations to Auschwitz began from the provinces. The Russians cut off rail traffic from Budapest, before most of the trains could leave, so the Hungarian fascists organized the Budapest Death March, marching 50,000 Jews at gunpoint to the Austrian border.

Those Jews who they missed, were then rounded up and taken to the Danube in small groups. Because they were short on ammunition, the Arrow Cross militia tied the victims with barbed wire in groups of 4, and then shot the heaviest. The others then drowned. Why waste good shoes?

Perhaps 10,000 were murdered this way.

szaza said...

It's beyond shocking— the things that people will do to each other.