Thursday, January 31, 2013

January 31st

This morning we went to the Holocaust Museum of Budapest. I think that this museum was the most powerful one that we went to the entire trip, it presented information in a very straightforward way and focused on the victims of the holocaust. There was also a lot of information about the antisemitic laws passed by the Hungarian government before any killings had begun. Many Jews lived in Hungary and of those that lived in Budapest half were able to survive, however almost all of the Jewish people who lived in rural Hungary were killed. There was also a lot of information about the Roma (Gypsies) and the similar ways in which they were restricted and killed. One of the things that i was very surprised about that I learned today was that there were only killings in Hungary starting in 1944 and that people were only deported to concentration camps for about six weeks until the government ordered that to stop. After that the arrow cross (Hungarian Nazis) took power and started organizing the killings of Jews right in Budapest. At the end of the museum there is a synagogue attached that has been around since before WWII, inside it is a working synagogue but there is also a memorial for some of the victims who were killed in the Holocaust as well as a memorial for the survivors. 
After that we had a quick lunch and then went to the largest synagogue left in Central Europe. It survived the night of broken glass because the Nazis did not control Hungary until 1944 and was able to open for use right after WWII ended. Its a beautiful building and was very similar to a Christian church in many ways. After seeing what is left of the destroyed synagogue in Berlin it was hard to believe that this buildings is pretty much exactly what that one would have looked like. Behind the synagogue there is a memorial garden for those buried in a mass grave found by the soviets after they took Budapest  There is also a memorial that was erected in 2012 for Raoul Wallenberg who was a Swiss man who managed to save many Jews through issuing them Swiss passports. 

Tomorrow morning we leave Budapest to travel back home, its a very bittersweet feeling because I've absolutely loved this trip. Its been an amazing experience to travel and learn about the Holocaust in the countries where it occurred  it has also been a great experience to travel through Europe with such an awesome group of people

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