“Any man can make a difference”
Raoul Wallenberg Holocaust Memorial Park in Budapest is a MUST for me as Swede, he is one of my heroes. Men like him are where my belief lays in – people that make a difference to other people without thinking of themselves. There is today both men and women that risk their lives every day to help those that really needs help. So this post is also for them.
Only 2 blocks away from the hotel where I was staying – when I first got there it was closed because it’s in the rear garden of the Dohány Street Synagogue, also known The Great Synagogue or Tabakgasse Synagogue. It is the largest synagogue in Europe and the second largest in the world. It seats 3,000 people.
First I was quite irritated that I had to pay 4000 HUF to get to a memorial, that I think should be accessible at all time and free. In price, I also had a chance to visit the synagogue and they had spotless toilets for free.
My first visit to a synagogue … just so beautiful inside – will come back with the images in end of this post.
In 1944, the Dohány Street Synagogue was part of the Jewish Ghetto for the city Jews and served as a shelter for many hundreds. Over two thousand of those who died in the ghetto from hunger and cold during the winter 1944-1945 are buried in the courtyard of the synagogue.
Raoul Gustaf Wallenberg (1912 – 1952) was a Swedish architect, businessman, diplomat and humanitarian. He is widely celebrated for saving tens of thousands of Jews in Nazi-occupied Hungary during the Holocaust from German Nazis and Hungarian Fascists during the later stages of World War II. While serving as Sweden’s special envoy in Budapest between July and December 1944, Wallenberg issued protective passports and sheltered Jews in buildings designated as Swedish territory.
On 17 January 1945, Wallenberg was called to Russian General Malinovsky’s headquarters in Debrecen to answer allegations that he was engaged in espionage. Wallenberg’s last recorded words were, “I’m going to Malinovsky’s … whether as a guest or prisoner I do not know yet.” He was never seen since and for over 40 years nobody knew what really had happened to him.
In August 2016, the information about Wallenberg’s death came to light when the diary of KGB head, Ivan A. Serov, surfaced after Serov’s granddaughter found the diary hidden in a wall of her house. “I have no doubts that Wallenberg was liquidated in 1947,” Serov wrote.
Raoul Wallenberg Holocaust Memorial Park’s most interesting feature is of course “The Tree of Life”. Designed by Imre Varga in 1991. Imre Varga ( 1923 – ) is a Hungarian sculptor, painter, designer and graphic artist.
This sculpture commemorates the 5,000 victims of the Holocaust buried nearby. The willow tree is a traditional symbol of mourning. It is also said to represent an overturned menorah.
It stands over the mass graves of those murdered by the Nazis in 1944–45. On the leaves of the metal, the tree is inscribed the family names of some of the hundreds of thousands of victims.
There is also a memorial to Wallenberg and the people that helped him with his mission plus other Righteous Among the Nations, among them: Swiss Vice-consul Carl Lutz; that has his own monument a block from the park. He played an important role in the rescue activities during the persecution by issuing tens of thousands of protective documents to Jews and also claimed diplomatic immunity for 72 protected houses established around Budapest. He tried to save many victims of the Arrow Cross terror on the bank of the Danube also.
Giorgio Perlasca, an Italian man who, with a strategic escamotage, declared himself the Spanish consul, releasing documents of protection and current passports to Jews in Budapest without distinction (he saved five thousand);
‘Mons. Angelo Rotta, an Italian Prelate Bishop and Apostolic Nuncio of the State of Vatican City in Budapest, which issued protective sheets, misrepresentations of baptism (to save them from forced labor) and Vatican passports to Jews, without distinction of any kind present in Budapest (saving fifteen thousand), who saved, with his secretary Mons. Gennaro Verolino tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews during World War II.
Carlos de Liz-Texeira Branquinho a Portuguese diplomat, serving as Portugal’s Chargé d’Affaires in Budapest in 1944, issued protective Passports to hundreds of Jewish families, altogether about 1,000 lives were saved due to his actions.
Carlos Sampaio Garrido the Portuguese Ambassador who resisted the Hungarian political police when the police raided his home arresting his guests. The Ambassador physically resisted the police and was also arrested but managed to have his guests released by invoking the extraterritorial legal rights of diplomatic legations; five of the guests were members of the famous Gabor family.
There was also the International Red Cross, Friedrich Born and Valdemar Langlet, helped to save Jews in Hungary with fake passports, protective letters and “protected houses”
The Synagogue and the graveyard so beautiful – they have raised a headstone to every victim resting thereof respect and the strong green ivory protects their remembering. It is not customary to have a cemetery next to a synagogue, the establishment of the 3,000 m2 cemetery was the result of historical circumstances.
The synagogue was built between 1854 and 1859. In October 2012, an Israeli flag was burned in front of the synagogue, reportedly by members of Jobbik, an ultranationalist Hungarian political party.
The sculpture at the grave courtyards has a message to us all: NEVER AGAIN!!!!
“For the dead and the living, we must bear witness.”