Saturday, April 2, 2011

Missing Jews

Hungary was traditionally a place of refuge for various religious groups persecuted in Catholic Austria. Sopron, for example, became a center for Protestant and Jewish intellectual life. The Lutheran, Calvanist, and other protestant churches are still here, but you can see that this large Jewish synagogue about a block from our chapel is abandoned. A Jewish woman taking an English class from the missionaries says there are so few Jews in Sopron today that they can't afford a rabbi. So the synagogue remains boarded up. Where did they go?

In the park facing the synagogue you can see a memorial reminding us where they went--killed by the Nazis. The Jews were protected by the Hungarians until Hitler decided in the closing months of the war that Hungarians were not being cooperative enough with his final solution. He took over the government and had the Jews deported and killed, as this memorial reminds us with its Hebrew letters flying into the sky like butterflies leaving piles of coats with Jewish stars and piles of shoes and children's dolls in a concentration camp. We saw this for the first time today when we took a new route walking home.

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