Shoes on the Danube Budapest

The Shoes on the Danube Holocaust memorial is one of the most visited attractions in Budapest, hundreds of thousands of visitors pay their homage at the small sculpture. The Shoes, in their horrifying simplicity, honour the Jews who were executed by the river Danube in Budapest by Hungarian Nazis, fascist Arrow Cross militiamen during the World War II.

Shoes on the Danube by Chris Johnson
Shoes on the Danube – photo by Chris Johnson

The Shoes on the Danube memorial is located on the Pest side of the river Danube, about 300 metres (980 ft) south of the Hungarian Parliament and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences by the Chain Bridge.

The idea of the Holocaust memorial came from film director Janos Can Togay, who designed and made the bronze shoes with the sculptor Gyula Pauer to honour the Jews who were killed in cold blood during Dec 1944 and Jan 1945. The memorial was erected in 2005 to commemorate the systematic killings of Hungarian Jews by Hungarian fascists (Hungary allied itself with Nazi Germany in the false hope of regaining lost territories in WW1).

The Jews were asked to line up by the river, take their shoes off facing the Danube, and shot to death in broad daylight to terrorise all Jews or anyone, ‘Goys’, wishing to save or support Jewish people. The bodies were carried away by the water, the river cleaned up the mess, the shoes were re-sold on the black market. The sculpture represents the moment just after death, when the shoes were still there, men’s, women’s, children’s, some nicer, some worn down, tattered, here and there missing a shoelace, or even a half pair, all different, yet all connected.  In 2016, Shoes on the Danube was chosen as the world’s second best public statue.

Jewish Tours in Budapest

Learn more about the Jewish Heritage of Budapest on guided tours, see the magnificent Grand Synagogue in Dohany Street, the old Jewish Quarters of city central Budapest, the Weeping Willow memorial, the Jewish Cemetery and Jewish Museum.

Jewish Heritage Tour with Budapest River Cruise 3.5 hour walking tour in the old Jewish Quarters of Budapest, 2 hour river cruise on the Danube.

Jewish Heritage Walking Tour in Budapest 2 – 3 hour walking tour in the old Jewish Quarters of Budapest

Explore some of the lesser known Jewish sights in Budapest on the following map (double click to zoom in on the Jewish Heritage places) – made by TopBudapest.org:

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