Walk along the banks of the Danube River and see this moving memorial to the Jewish people who were murdered in this very spot during World War II.
The Shoes on the Danube is a stirring and emotional tribute to the Jewish people who were shot on the banks of the great river during World War II. Take a slow walk along the river’s edge, where some 60 pairs of 1940s style shoes, crafted in iron, remain as a memorial to the 20,000 people who lost their lives here.
Take the time to learn about Hungary’s fascist history before you visit the sculpture and the experience will be even more poignant. In October 1944, Ferenc Szálasi became the leader of the Hungarian government when Hitler overthrew Miklós Horthy. Szálasi created the Arrow Cross Party, whose fascist and anti-Semitic ideas matched those of Hitler. He began a campaign of torture and terror across the country. More than 70,000 Jewish people were marched to Austrian camps, and a further 20,000 were shot along the Danube.
The Shoes on the Danube monument was created in 2005 by film director Can Togay along with the sculptor Gyula Pauer. It is a haunting creation which brings to life the atrocities of the people who were forced to remove their shoes before being shot into the river.
Walk along the river bank to see the 60 pairs of shoes. There are men’s, women’s and children’s, sculpted out of iron in the style of the 1940s. Many are tattered and ripped, and some have fallen as though just removed.
Stroll the river bank at sunset and contemplate the city during a very different time. The monument is both beautiful and horrifying, and visitors should be prepared to feel emotional. Many leave flowers or light candles in memory of those who lost their lives. Look for memorial signs in Hungarian, English and Hebrew at three points along the river.
The Shoes on the Danube monument is located on the Pest side of the river, a short walk from the Hungarian Parliament building. Pay a visit to the sculpture at any time of the day or night. It is always open for viewing.