Sunday, June 29, 2014

Budapest - St. Stephen's and Various Memorials to the Dead

Greetings Earthlings!  We're back in Oregon with better bandwidth.  I will now show you some of the things we saw in Budapest.
This is a monument to the Hungarian people killed by the Arrow Cross militia.  They unleashed a short reign of terror towards the end of WWII in Hungary.  These shoes commemorate the Jewish people who were lined up at the river's edge and shot.  Their bodies were pushed into the Danube.  This is a difficult thing to see. 

Here is the statue commemorating the life of Imre Nagy.  He was a politician who sought less repression from the Soviets in the late 1950s.  In return, the Soviets invaded Hungary in 1958, imprisoned Mr. Nagy and killed him two years later.  He remains a hero to the Hungarian people to this day.  His memorial is just off of Freedom Square.

This is the only Soviet war memorial still in Budapest, which is in the middle of Freedom Square.  It memorializes the deaths of the Russian soldiers who died liberating Budapest from the Germans in WWII.  This completely ignores the point that Hungary and Germany were allies.  However, why let facts interfere with a good war memorial.  Anyway, this memorial replaced an earlier monument the Hungarians had erected to mourn the loss of much of their territory and populace after WWI, as a result of the Treaty of Trianon.  The treaty terms were dictated by the west and Hungary was forced to accept its terms.  

Also in Freedom Square is Ronald Reagan.  His statue went up in 2011 to commemorate his role in ending communism.

We saw the above on our way to St. Stephen's Basilica, which is one of the most amazing things we have ever seen.  However, before entering the Basilica we saw these people, dancing in front of the steps of the church.  I would like to draw your attention to the shoes being worn by the young man front row, over to the right.  My hat is off to anyone who can dance in those heels.  We have no idea why they were there.

St. Stephen's is named in honor of Stephen, the first king of Hungary (975-1038).  His good right hand is housed in the reliquary there. 

On the inside, it's visually overwhelming with the gold, the paint, the marble, the sheer size of it.

The organ pipes.


There is much history in Hungary.  The New York Times had an article yesterday about what might have happened if Franz Ferdinand had not been assassinated.  The author went down a path of thinking that the Hapsburg empire would not have gone up in the flames of WWI. Without WWI, Germany might not have been so vulnerable to Hitler's leadership.  It's an interesting article.  Also worth looking at is an interactive map of how the national boundaries have changed in Europe over the years. 
There will be several Budapest posts.  For those of you with limited bandwidth, I'm trying not to kill your browser with too many photos in one post.

1 comment:

  1. Ronald Reagan...that's unexpected! The shoe monument is indeed disturbing, but powerful.