Monday, February 4, 2013

31.1.3013 A Day Full of Pleasant Surprises

I couldn't have possibly asked for a better or more beautiful last day of our time in Europe! When I checked the weather this morning it said it would be partly cloudy all day with 15-25 mph winds, this was not the case at all. It was sunny all day long with winds that picked up in the afternoon but were only bad enough to make me look a little wind blown.
We started our morning off at the most informative museum of our trip, the Holokauszt Emlekkozpont (The Holocaust Memorial Museum). I have said a few times in my post that some of the museums we've been too have been disappointing because of a lack of information and explanations. This museum did not disappoint at all, in fact I was a little surprised with the abundance of information. When we entered the museum there was a room that told us a little bit about Jewish culture but the rest of the rooms told us all about different laws and then a lot of information about the Holocaust. There were some parts that were really graphic like the part of the museum that talked about experiments that Dr. Mengele ran on twins in the Holocaust and there were a lot of videos and pictures of dead bodies at Auschwitz. I think that in a way this is necessary when teaching about the Holocaust because it is the reality and it is difficult for our minds to understand some things with out seeing it or at least seeing images from it. One of the the things I learned from this museum is that one of the first antisemitic laws limited the amount of Jews who could be employed in certain areas as well as how much land Jews could hold. The land that was taken away from Jews was given to gentiles, thus they learned that they benefited from antisemitism and more people started supporting it.
Once we had gone through the Holocaust Memorial Museum we went to the Dohany utca Synagogue. This is one of the oldest and biggest synagogues still standing in Europe. The reason we went to it is because there were synagogues the same size as it in Vienna and Berlin but none of them survived the Night of Broken Glass. It was extremely beautiful. Dr. Moser told us that the reason it looked so much like a church is because of the successful attempt of assimilation in the community over time. Outside of the synagogue was a garden called Memory Garden which was dedicated to a mass grave for Jews. There were a few headstones that actually commemorated a person that was buried and there was a short concrete wall showing where they were buried, but for the most part there were just a lot of name plaques leaning up against the short concrete walls commemorating some of the people that are in the mass grave. This is significant because in order for a Jewish funeral to be considered an actual Jewish funeral the person must have a headstone saying who is buried there, so it is important that some of the people have some sort of recognition even though they never actually got a proper Jewish funeral.
Exterior of the Synagogue
stained glass in the synagogue

Memory Garden
Memory Garden

After you walk past Memory Garden there is a memorial for Raoul Wallenburg who saved thousands of Jews. The memorial for him is really pretty. The walk way is cobble stone. There are some plots of grass and some trees. The memorial itself is made up of a metal tree with the names of people he saved on each leaf and a stained glass panel.
stained glass panel
Heart on one of the leaves

When we finished with the synagogue, Memory Garden, and the memorial for Raoul Wallenburg we walked across Pest to go find the cafe we were going to have Jause at, unfortunately though we did not have anything there since they did not accept American Express and Dr. Moser did not have enough Forints to pay in cash (he also did not want to take them out of the bank and be stuck with the Forints he did not spend). Once we realized we weren't going to get jause, we split up. Elliot, since he was sick the day before, wanted to go see the memorial for the Jews that were shot into the Danube so I went with him and then we wandered around Budapest for a while before making our way back to the hotel. For dinner we just had fast-food but we all sat in one of the hotel rooms joking around and telling jokes, which was a great last night of a great trip.

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