Memorials to the Cruelty of Mankind

Photography: John McCutcheon
Photography: John McCutcheon


The shoes are there. Lined along the Danube, roughed out iron memorials to the tortured. The Dead. Memorials that speak to the immeasurable cruelty of mankind.

Broken shoes, booties, ladies’ heels, boys’ shoes, Mary Janes, dress shoes, their laces untied.

Shoes face the River Danube. Nazi Arrow Cross machine guns faced the Jews.


Shock. Pain. Free falling. Fearing.

Water. Colding, rushing, swifting. Knowing.

Another line the next day.


Currents pushing, pulling, pressing, filling, flailing. Dying.

We remember.

The pain.

Darfur. Chile. Afghanistan. Ethiopia. Bosnia. The Dominican Republic.

Exploding thrusts of hate and indifference.

We remember.

Genocides. Turkish Armenians. Holodomor. Cambodia. Rwanda. D. R. Congo.

A billion in the last century. The numbers overwhelm. We can only grasp a few shoes.

But we repeat.

Tip:  The memorial, Shoes on the Danube Promenade, is about 1,000 feet south of the Parliament Building on the Pest side of Budapest.

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