Shoes on the Danube Promenade

by J-Mirabelli

The Danube divides the city into two: Buda and Pest, once independent cities, they united in 1873 to form the present day Hungarian capital. The Shoes on the Danube Promenade is on the Pest side of the river.

To the unsuspecting tourist, many pairs of shoes along the banks of the Danube River in Budapest, may seem like an unusual and unlikely sight. That is until you notice that the shoes are cast iron and fastened to the ground. It will soon become obvious that the shoes are part of a sculpture which serves as a grim reminder of a dark moment in Hungary’s history.

The sculpture is called The Shoes on the Danube Promenade and is a memorial created to honor the Jews who fell victim to fascist Arrow Cross Militiamen in Budapest during World War II. The Brigade would line up as many Jews as possible and shoot them on the river’s bank. This would save them the work of having to bury the bodies. The victims had to take their shoes off, since shoes were valuable belongings at the time.

The sculptor Gyula Pauer and his friend Can Togay created sixty pairs of period-appropriate shoes out of iron which are attached to the stone embankment. Behind them is a 40 meter long stone bench. At three points along the bench are cast iron signs, with memorial text in Hungarian, English, and Hebrew.

The site is symbolic because other locations on the Danube were also used in the killings.

The Shoes on the Danube Promenade was completed on April 16, 2005 and is on the East side of the Promenade, about 300 meters (980 ft) south of the Hungarian Parliament and near the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.

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Budapest Shoes

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