Holocaust Tree of Life Memorial

This is our entry in Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Trees.

The Raul Wallenberg Memorial Garden, behind the Great Synagogue (Dohany Street Synagogue) in Budapest, Hungary, is the site of the Holocaust Tree of Life Memorial.   We visited it in April on a dreary, rainy day, which seemed appropriate for this emotional memorial.

Created in the form of a weeping willow tree, the memorial records the names of thousands of Holocaust victims on its stainless steel leaves.

The Memorial Garden is located at the World War II entrance to the Budapest Ghetto, where 6000 Jews were buried in a mass grave.  That huge number is only 1% of the 600,000 Hungarian Jews who perished during the Holocaust.

 

 

Apocalypse by Rudolf Rezső Berczeller

This is our entry in Dutch goes the Photo!’s Tuesday Photo Challenge – Overhead.

In April of this year, we were fortunate to visit the Hungarian National Gallery in Budapest, which has been located in Buda Castle on Gellert Hill since 1975.  The photo below was taken looking up inside the center dome of the Gallery.   Titled Apocalypse, the hanging sculpture was created in 1990 – 1991 from galvanized mesh, plastic, and steel by Rudolf Rezső Berczeller (1912 – 1992).  It is part of the Contemporary Collection and measures 3 × 5 × 12 meters.  This installation includes six figures, but, according to artportal,

“At the end of his life, [Berczeller] wanted to create a group of 32 angel figures suspended in the church gallery of Budapest, in the church space of Budapest, or suspended under the dome of the Hungarian National Gallery.”

It isn’t every day that we can look up to see six angels overhead.

This photo was taken on April 22, 2019. Specs are:

Canon 200D, ISO 200, f/9.0, 1/30 sec, 10 mm.

 

Shoes on the Danube Promenade — Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Shoes, Boots, Slippers

This is our entry in Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Shoes, Boots, Slippers.

Just below the Hungarian Parliament Building in Budapest, on a ledge above the Danube River, is a sobering yet beautiful memorial to 20,000 Jewish victims of the Holocaust.  Ferenc Szalasi, the Hitler-installed head of the Hungarian government and leader of the antisemitic, fascist Hungarian Arrow Cross Party, was instrumental in causing their deaths.  From October 1944 to January 1945, Arrow Cross firing squads rounded up groups of Jewish men, women, and children, marched them to this location on the Danube, forced them to strip off their clothing (especially their shoes), and then shot them at close range so that they would fall into the freezing-cold river below and be carried away by the currents.  This permanent memorial, created by sculptors Gyula Pauer and Can Togay, consists of 60 pairs of shoes cast from iron (now rusted) in front of a 40-meter long stone bench with three cast iron signs. The signs state, in Hungarian, English, and Hebrew:

To the memory of the victims shot into the Danube by Arrow Cross militiamen in 1944–45. Erected 16 April 2005.

 

The reconstructed shoes are placed as if they had just been removed by their owners.  The real shoes would have been gathered by the executioners and sold on the Black Market.  Visitors to the memorial have adorned the permanently-installed shoes with symbolic items of mourning and remembrance: stones in the shoe cavities, flowers in shoes and on the ground, salt in containers and spilled on the ground, and candles.

 

These photos were taken just after 11 AM local time on April 18, 2019, with a Canon 200D.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Budapest Chain Bridge Light Trails

This is our entry in Dutch goes the Photo!’s Tuesday Photo Challenge – Night.

Following a few hours of after-sunset photography atop Buda Castle Hill and Gellért Hill in Budapest, Hungary,  we set up tripods at the Pest end of Chain Bridge to capture light trails.  There is an island between the inbound and outbound lanes of traffic that is safe for pedestrians. To create the trails in the photo, a series of eight 30 second exposures was stacked in Photoshop layers, aligned, and merged into a single image using the lighten blending mode.

An interesting phenomenon that occurs when you have a good spot is that it attracts other photographers. After a few minutes here, several other people with cameras popped up.  They weren’t using tripods so they can’t have been taking this shot.

The Budapest Eye

We have always been fascinated by Ferris wheels, so it is no surprise that we admired (and photographed) the Budapest Eye from many angles before (and after) we rode it.  The Budapest Eye — also known as the Sziget Eye — towers 65 meters high over Erzsébet Square.  Only St. Stephen’s Basilica (and the Budapest Parliament Building) are taller at 96 meters.

The first photo was taken from Gellért Hill on the evening we arrived in Budapest.  Saint Stephen’s Basilica is the imposing building behind it.  We had hiked partway down from the 140 meter peak of Gellért Hill, which rises above the Danube River. The 25 second exposure captures the rotation of the wheel.

The second photo was taken as we stood in line for our ride just after sunset. At 2700 Hungarian Forint (HUF) per ride, slightly more than $9 USD, for a minimum of three rotations or 8 – 10 minutes, it is a pricey thrill, but worth it.  Calculating from time stamps on our photos, we rode for at least 15 minutes.

The third photo was taken from directly beneath the arc of 42 cabins on the wheel.  Each cabin is sized for four to six people.

This post is our entry in nancy merrill photography’s A Photo a Week Challenge: Three of a Kind and Dutch goes the Photo!’s Tuesday Photo Challenge – Wheel.

The 19th Century Military Technology of the Lajta Monitor

This is our entry in Dutch goes the Photo!’s Tuesday Photo Challenge — Technology.

When we were in Budapest this April, we took a one hour tourist cruise on the Danube to help us locate the major attractions. As we were passing the Parliament building, our jaws dropped when we saw a ship that is known to every student of the American Civil War — a monitor. When they were built, monitors were the most technologically advanced ships ever seen. They were constructed of metal rather than wood, sailed low in the water to expose a minimal target, and had a rotating turret that allowed the guns to be aimed without turning the ship.

A few days later, we toured the ship — the SMS Leitha (or Lajta Monitor) — on a rather cold and rainy day.  The Leitha is closely based on the 1861 design of the USS Monitor and was in service as a warship from 1871 to 1921. After that, the guns were removed and it was used to haul gravel.  The ship was rediscovered more that 80 years later and restored to its 1871 configuration. After the 19th century, monitors saw action in World Wars I and II and ships derived from the design were even used in Vietnam. It was pretty stunning to learn how advanced monitor ships were and how long they were in service. It was fascinating to explore a ship so close to one of the most famous ships in the Civil War (the Huntley and the CSS Virginia would be the others).

Attila József by the Danube — Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: View From the Side

This is our entry in Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: View From the Side.

Attila József (April 11, 1905 – December 3, 1937) is a well-known Hungarian poet.  In 1980, a statue to honor József was erected on Kossuth Square in front of the Hungarian Parliament in Budapest. During Viktor Orbán’s tenure as Prime Minister, it was decided to move the statue closer to the banks of the Danube.

Attila József published his poem By the Danube in 1936.  The following is an excerpt (our selection) from the poem, with translation by John Székely.

As I sat on the bottom step of the wharf,
A melon-rind flowed by with the current;
Wrapped in my fate I hardly heard the chatter
Of the surface, while the deep was silent.
As if my own heart had opened its gate:
The Danube was turbulent, wise and great.

And the rain began to fall but then it stopped
Just as if it couldn’t have mattered less,
And like one watching the long rain from a cave,
I gazed away into the nothingness.
Like grey, endless rain from the skies overcast,
So fell drably all that was bright: the past.

But the Danube flowed on.

I am he who for a hundred thousand year
Has gazed on what he now sees the first time.
One brief moment and, fulfilled, all time appears
In a hundred thousand forbears’ eyes and mine.

In the Danube’s waves past, present and future
Are all-embracing in a soft caress.

The photo was taken on April 21, 2019. Specs are:

Canon 200D, ISO 100, f/9.0, 1/80 sec, 35 mm.