28 May Jewish-related Budapest statue-gems
Jewish-related Budapest statue-gems
I adore the hidden mini statues of Mihály Kolodko, a guerilla-sculptor, a Ukranian citizen with Hungarian origins, who has by now a few Jewish-related pieces as well in the inner and outer part of the so-called Budapest Jewish Quarter. Visiting those tiny statues became one of our favourite “be a tourist in your own city” activities with my children. Wish I could show them all next time you are here!
Just a few from the list:
Tivadar Herzl was a Jewish Austrian-Hungarian journalist, writer and political activist who became known as the father of modern Zionism. During my Budapest Jewish Walk in the Quarter I love spending a few minutes exploring a tiny sculpture of Herzl with his bike appropriately placed near the iconic Dohány Street Synagogue (also called as the Great Synagogue) in Erzsébetváros, the 7th district of Budapest. Just opposite the tiny statue there is his birth site, which is now the Jewish Museum, the left wing of the Dohány Street Synagogue.
Hannah Szenes was a poet who tried to evacuate Jews from Hungary during the Holocaust. She volunteered alongside other young Jews in Palestine to parachute into Hungary. She was arrested at the Hungarian border, captured by the Hungarian Nazis, and executed by firing squad. Yet she never gave into the Nazi’s torture. She refused the blindfold during her execution, and stared her murderers right in the eyes. A national hero in Israel, thanks to statues like this, hopefully more and more locals and travellers alike get to know her story, too.
Iconic quote: “There are stars whose radiance is visible on Earth though they have long been extinct. There are people whose brilliance continues to light the world even though they are no longer among the living. These lights are particularly bright when the night is dark. They light the way for humankind.”
The tiny bronze figure of Rezső Seress, born as Rudolf Spitzer, Hungarian composer of world-famous song ‘Gloomy Sunday’ was displayed outside the former Kispipa restaurant in Akácfa Street where Seress was the resident pianist.
He became quite successful as a songwriter in Hungary between the World Wars. His most famous composition, Gloomy Sunday, written in the age of The Great Depression in 1933, was a hit even in the United States. Due to his Jewish origins and Hungary having been an ally of Nazi Germany in the dark times of the 30s and the Second World War, he was forced to do Labour Service, which was a form of forced labour. Seress survived the Holocaust thanks to a military officer of high standing recognizing him as the writer of Gloomy Sunday but because of his long-lasting depression -he wasn’t allowed to play his songs during the communist regime as they were blacklisted- and suffering to make ends meet, Seress committed suicide in 1968.
Hungarian actor Erika Marozsán sings Gloomy Sunday in the 1999 movie version inspired by the song and life of Rezső Seress: