Human Rights in Budapest

SMU students, faculty and staff visited Budapest, Hungary, with SMU’s Embrey Human Rights Program Jan. 7-13, 2015. Led by program director Rick Halperin, 12 undergraduate and master’s level students traveled to the country along with Vicki Hill, SMU’s Assistant Dean for the University Curriculum.

In an effort to address past, present and future identity issues stemming from what happened in Hungary before, during and after its Nazi-occupation in World War II, the group met with Holocaust survivors, witnesses and rescuers. Many of the group’s activities were organized by the Visual World Foundation and its program “Relations to power – learning about the Holocaust in Hungary.”

Laws that subjugate

An update from Richard, a graduate student in the Master of Liberal Studies program: On Saturday, January 10, the group visited the Holocaust Memorial Center, which commemorates the 1,441 lost Jewish communities and more than 500,000 victims, Jews and Roma, of the Hungarian Holocaust. Throughout the center, displays detail the story of how the Jews of Hungary became “scapegoats” of Hungarian society because of the terms of the Trianon Treaty of 1919, which spelled out the peace terms for Hungary’s participation in World War I as an ally of Germany. The Trianon Treaty forfeited two-thirds of Hungarian territory to other nations. Included in these forfeited lands were 3 million Hungarian citizens. Retrieving these lands became the primary goal of Hungary’s foreign [...]

2015-01-22T17:15:54+00:00 January 16th, 2015|Human Rights in Budapest|

Humanity and evil

An update from Joseph, a graduate student in the Perkins School of Theology: Landing in Budapest, Hungary, I was amazed by the beauty of the city as I looked through the window of the plane. Arriving a day before my fellow students, I was picked up by one of our hosts, and while we drove from the airport, he said: "I have a surprise for you." My response was, "What surprise?" And he said: "I will drive you another route so you can see some of the beauties of our city." I never knew that this beautiful city is associated with the greatest evil of the 20th century, the Holocaust – the killing of 11 million men, women, and children by [...]

2015-01-14T17:46:51+00:00 January 14th, 2015|Human Rights in Budapest|

A controversial museum

An update from Alexandra, a graduate student in the Master of Liberal Studies program, studying human rights and social justice: Today we visited a controversial museum called the House of Terror, located inside a building that housed the old Nazi and Communist headquarters within the city.  The purpose of the museum is to educate people on what occurred within the walls of that exact building, and to commemorate the victims of the communist regime that took many victims in Hungary during the Soviet occupation after World War II. Before you even enter the museum, the outside wall pays tribute to some victims with their photographs. Upon entry, a three-story-high wall is covered in photos of victims.  Additionally, the museum provides small leaflets with [...]

2015-01-14T17:18:46+00:00 January 14th, 2015|Human Rights in Budapest|

The ‘Tree of Life’

The SMU Embrey Human Rights Program pilgrims in Budpest, Hungary, stand in front of a weeping willow-inspired artwork known as the “Tree of Life”/“Emanuel Tree” — a powerful tribute to thousands of Holocaust victims buried nearby. The memorial, by artist Imre Varga, was sponsored by the Emanuel Foundation, created by actor Tony Curtis to honor his Hungarian-Jewish roots. Photo shared by Amber/SMU Adventures. Photo shared by Amber/SMU Adventures Hungarian Holocaust victims’ names are inscripted on the memorial tree's “leaves.” Photo shared by Amber/SMU Adventures  

2015-01-12T16:12:46+00:00 January 12th, 2015|Human Rights in Budapest|

At the House of Terror

An update from Vanna, a graduate student in the Master of Liberal Studies program studying human rights and social justice: Hungary is an ancient country that has gone though tumultuous political upheaval in the past few decades. Today we visited the House of Terror, which is a museum dedicated to the depiction of the fascist and communist regime. The fascist regime in Hungary lasted during World War II and the Nazi occupation. Following the loss, Hungary came under the influence of the Soviet Union and established a communist government. Today, Hungary is a young democracy. Their first free election, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, was in 1990. Upon walking into the museum, past the lobby, you see a [...]

2015-01-12T17:04:12+00:00 January 12th, 2015|Human Rights in Budapest|

Meeting Holocaust survivors

An update from Liz, a senior majoring in political science and international studies, with a minor in human rights: Photo by Liz/SMU Adventures The Dohány Street Synagogue in connection with the Jewish Museum was both artistically pleasing and an eye-opening experience. The ornate, Oriental-style Synagogue features beautiful stained-glass windows, mosaic tiled floors and a central dome. The Synagogue was built by two non-Jewish architects, suggesting the inclusionary nature of the Synagogue's people. The Synagogue sits in conjunction with a number of moving monuments that are dedicated to Holocaust survivors. The garden features a gravesite called The Heroes' Temple. It serves as a memorial for the hundreds of Jewish people who were found murdered within the walls of the [...]

2015-01-12T15:03:18+00:00 January 12th, 2015|Human Rights in Budapest|

Angels that stare at the past

Pedro Gonzalez An update from Pedro Gonzalez, who earned a master of liberal studies, with a concentration in human rights, from SMU in 2012 and is a current graduate student at the University of Texas at Dallas: Hungary is a thousand-year-old country that exudes history. Because of the motive of our trip and its tragic nature, one name has been in the background of everything I do here: Walter Benjamin. In the 9th Theses about the Philosophy of History (Anmerkungen zu den Thesen uber den Begriff der Geschichte), Walter Benjamin talks about Paul Klee’s painting Angelus Novus. He notes that the Angel stares at something inquisitively. His eyes are fixed to his left, and having the mouth open [...]

2015-01-11T09:30:01+00:00 January 11th, 2015|Human Rights in Budapest|

Past and present

Carlos An update from Carlos, a senior majoring in history and minoring in economics: Landing in Budapest, I felt I had an idea of what to expect, having already traveled to Poland with Dr. Halperin and the Embrey Human Rights Program in December 2012. However my expectations were far from what I encountered. In comparison to Poland and other occupied countries in the second World War, the Holocaust had arrived late to the kingdom of Hungary. Participating on the side of the Axis, Hungary actively engaged in military operations in the eastern front alongside German units. The Budapest Holocaust Memorial Center. Photo by Carlos/SMU Adventures However, with the imminent German defeat in the east and the [...]

2015-01-26T17:05:40+00:00 January 10th, 2015|Human Rights in Budapest|

On the edge of the Danube River

SMU students, faculty and staff are visiting Budapest, Hungary, with SMU’s Embrey Human Rights Program Jan. 7-13, 2015. In an effort to address past, present and future identity issues stemming from what happened in Hungary before, during and after its Nazi-occupation in World War II, the group will meet with Holocaust survivors, witnesses and rescuers.

2015-01-09T10:45:53+00:00 January 9th, 2015|Human Rights in Budapest|