It wasn’t all genealogical research

Bela Kun, who led the brief Hungarian Soviet Republic in 1919.  He escaped to the Soviet Union and Stalin dispatched him in a purge in the 1930s.

Bela Kun, who led the brief Hungarian Soviet Republic in 1919. He escaped to the Soviet Union and Stalin dispatched him in a purge in the 1930s.

Me, the only way I could get into the Hungarian Parliament.

Me, the only way I could get into the Hungarian Parliament.

Protecting the Hungarian President; Castle Hill.

Protecting the Hungarian President; Castle Hill.

A sign on the old metro, the world's first underground passenger railway.

A sign on the old metro, the world’s first underground passenger railway.

From the Transport Museum; comparison of emigration, various European countries, to US.

From the Transport Museum; comparison of emigration, various European countries, to US.

A monument to the "martyrs" who fought the revolutionaries in 1956.

A monument to the “martyrs” who fought the revolutionaries in 1956.

Lest you think that I did nothing but drive to far cities and take trains to isolated villages, I had a lot of fun in Budapest, when I first arrived and then at the end of my trip.  One of the more interesting spots I visited was Memento Park, or what I call the Park of Dead Lenins.  When Communism fell, the civic leaders in Hungary had to make many decisions, including, what do we do with all the statues and busts of all the Lenins, Bela Kuns, and other Communist heroes scattered around the country?  The answer: build a park and put them there.

This is not a silly question.  The statuary in question was, to my eye, neither uplifting nor aesthetically pleasing.  It was probably meant to dominate, and remind the Hungarians of the ideology that governed them.  The park is at the same time ironic and deadly serious.  It seems to say, “Snicker if you want, but this is part of our history and we have to confront it.”

Earlier I mentioned the Great Synagogue in Dohanyi Street.  It is the largest synagogue in Hungary and was the center of the Jewish Ghetto in Budapest during World War II.  The story of Raoul Wallenberg is almost a cliche.  We need to remember that he was not alone in his efforts to save innocent people from massacre.

I also enjoyed the cuisine of Budapest and had a good soak at the St. Gellert Baths.  The Alexandra Bookstore on Andrassy utca, Budapest’s Fifth Avenue,

Supposedly a "SISZ" or some such thing at the Transport  Museum, but I know a Packard when I see one.

Supposedly a “SISZ” or some such thing at the Transport Museum, but I know a Packard when I see one.

is an extremely civilized place.  It occupies a former department store and the top floor is dedicated to wine, coffee, tea, and cakes.  A gentleman plays a grand piano and one can sit for hours, enjoying the refreshments and the atmosphere.  Hungarians love to read and there is a great selection of books even in English.  I bought a thriller for the long plane ride home.

Goulash, potatoes and Hungarian beer.  Life is good.

Goulash, dumplings and Hungarian beer. Life is good.

Uniforms worn by Jewish prisoners.

Uniforms worn by Jewish prisoners.

The spires of the synagogue.

The spires of the synagogue.

Inside the Gellert baths.

Inside the Gellert baths.

Enjoying a tea break on a windy and rainy evening, Alexandra Bookstore, Budapest.

Enjoying a tea break on a windy and rainy evening, Alexandra Bookstore, Budapest.

A list of the families who were members of the Great Synagogue, and were massacred.

A list of the families who were members of the Great Synagogue, and were massacred.

A tilted view of the synagogue.

A tilted view of the synagogue.

Inside the Basilica of St. Stephen, Budapest.

Inside the Basilica of St. Stephen, Budapest.

A pair of Stalin's boot, all that remained of a statue torn down in 1956.

A pair of Stalin’s boot, all that remained of a statue torn down in 1956.

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2 thoughts on “It wasn’t all genealogical research

  1. Charlie –

    The book store and the baths – oh my . . . . . . “lead me on Precious Lord, lead me on!”
    So much history of a kind we only read about.

    Sherry

    Sherry Lynn Crone
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