Saturday, October 29, 2016


The shoes on the Danube promenade is a commemoration dedicated to the Jewish victims of the Fascist Arrow Cross Party.  In March 1944, the German Wehrmacht invaded its ally, Hungary.  In May 1944 mass deportations commenced. In less than 2 months some 440,000 Jews were deported. Nearly 200,000 remained incarcerated in Budapest.  Between Dec. 1944 and the end of 1945, the Arrow Cross took as many as 20,000 Jewish men, women and children from the ghetto, forced them to remove their shoes, line up along the edge of the water of the Danube, and were shot. Their bodies fell or were pushed into the river and floated away. They had to take their shoes off since shoes were valuable at the time.  Sixty pairs of the cast iron shoes were created by Gyula Pauer and Can Togay.  Along with the shoes you can find a plaque with an inscription which reads:
To the memory of the victims shot into the Danube by the Arrow Cross Militiamen in 1944-45.
Sad is that some of the shoes have been pried up and stolen.
When I saw these photos and read of this, it touched me deeply. 
I wrote a poem, and here it is.


They stand
as if waiting,
waiting for their wearers to pop
out of the water after a brisk swim.
But there will be no return, no laughter,
No donning of shoes.
Sixty pairs made of cast iron stand
facing the Danube to memorialize
the twenty thousand Jewish
men, women and children shot,
discarded into the dispassionate blue water.

My eyes settle
upon one small pair,
one shoe askew from the other,
as if the child who wore them tottered
away in a hurry to run barefoot
along the sinuous waterway.
I imagine a boy, head of curls,
with a big smile and lyrical laughter.

To one side of these small shoes
stands a duet of a woman’s shoe
and I wonder if these belonged to his mother.
On the other side is a man’s single shoe poised
adventurously on the edge, its mate gone.

I want to envision
the three of them,
father, mother, son,
dancing, laughing, playing
jubilantly at this riverside.
I want to imagine this

Rose Lefebvre ©


  1. Wonderful memorials, the shoes, the plaque and your haunting poem. We must keep the losses during this terrible war and genocide before us, or it will too easily happen again to someone else, like me or you. Lynnette

  2. most TOUCHING post i ever read dear .
    thank you for enhancing my knowledge

  3. Wish I had this on paper in front of me so I could underline perfect words, and draw hearts and tearful faces. What a poignant memorial.

  4. An incredibly beautiful poem, Rose. Thank you for sharing this terrible, haunting, heartbreaking reminder that we must oppose such atrocities, that love and compassion must triumph over fear and hatred. Alice

    1. So poignant Rose and so sad. How can people be so cruel and demonic? Thanks Rose for sharing your talent!

  5. This is such a heart-touching tribute to such a heinous event. Beautiful.

  6. Beautiful. We should not forget.

  7. It was brave of you to write about such a dramatic moment of history and reading you brought tears to m eyes.

  8. Beautiful, Rose! Thank you.
    Joseph M.

  9. What a beautiful and touching poem, Rose. Thank you for sharing it.

  10. Oh, Rose - this is so heartbreaking! Mankind's inhumanity is always so shocking to me and it still goes on......your poem is lovely and sad. Hugs xo Karen