Day 279

Here’s the story: in 1944, the Nazis came into Budapest and rounded up the Jews. If my great-grandmother hadn’t left, she might have been one of them.

Some farmers, who lived in the countryside, were sent directly to Auschwitz, where they perished.  Thirty thousand Hungarian Jews perished; forty thousand were liberated by the Russians at the end of the war. But a handful of unfortunate souls were taken to the edge of the Danube River in 1944, and ordered to remove their shoes. Then they were shot by the Hungarian Iron Cross soldiers — complicit with the Nazis — with all the perilous beauty of the Habsburg empire watching from the perch on the hills of Buda.

In 2005 the artists Gyula Pauer and Can Togay created a memorial commemorating that spot on the Danube. I walked there today. If my great grandmother hadn’t left Hungary when she did, I might never have been. This post is in her memory: Regina Falcone. The Hungarian seamstress who married my grandfather and kept her bloodline alive.

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