Thursday, June 19, 2014

Experience of a lifetime!

Now that it's been a few weeks since the trip to Central Europe, I've been thinking about the entire experience.  What an incredible, beautiful (if sometimes heartbreaking) adventure!

Not only did I make new friends, but I got to see another part of the world I'd never seen before.  While there were a few shopping excursions, the brunt of the trip was very educational - the world was our classroom!

Because I am a history major, and the class I took for the trip was the History of the Holocaust, the exploratory activities I did centered on monuments and memorials.  Some of the most beautiful memorials I saw were in Budapest, Hungary.

Emmanuel Tree - Budapest

Behind the Great Synagogue in Budapest is the Raul Wallenberg Memorial Park, the home of an incredible Holocaust memorial.  The Holocaust Memorial, known as the Emanuel Tree, is a weeping willow with names of Hungarian Jews who were murdered during the Holocaust inscribed on each leaf.   
The Memorial Tree is another example of an artistic monument; while the sculpture itself does not originate from the time period it depicts, the intended meaning of memorializing victims is still clear, and perhaps kept more relevant due to the phenomenal presentation.  

Shoes on the Danube - Budapest

Sixty pairs of period-appropriate shoes cast from iron line the Pest side of the river.  Near the shoes is a plaque that reads, “To the memory of the victims shot into the Danube by Arrow Cross militiamen in 1944-1945.  Erected 16 April 2005.”  These shoes give remembrance to the victims that were ordered to remove their shoes and were shot at the edge of the water so that their bodies would fall in and be carried away. 

Memorial on the March of Life
This is a memorial to the victims of the death marches.  A plaque explains the memorial's meaning:

 Life and death take turns from the beginning of the time as an unstoppable whirlpool.  The sculpture offers memory for this ongoing circle by the use of the closed geometric and the open organic forms.  The number spiral refers to the camp tattoos and to the loss of identity…The formation without plinth inspires us to culminate with the possibilities among the plastics.  Within the forms and the symbols we can still find the ongoing tension.

The experiences from this trip will stay with me forever.  I learned so much, and saw so many things I thought I would never see.  To anyone even considering traveling abroad - go!  Not later, but now.  It changes you!
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