Jewish life (and death) along the river Danube

Author: Viktória Makai

The sunny Monday morning started with an interesting lecture by Dr Gwen Jones, where we learned about the Jewish life and death along the river Danube. We found out that the Hungarian and German versions of the pubs in England were coffee houses, since in the 19th and 20th centuries a common place to gather around and exchange ideas were coffee houses. For instance, Hungary’s War of Independence started from a debate in Pilvax Coffee House in 1848. We also heard about Peter Forgács’s film, the Danube Exodus, which is set on board the cruiser, Erzsébet Királyné, and it tells the story of Jews who are trying to escape to Palestine. They have an interesting journey on the boat, including a wedding and in the end, after 83 days, they reach Palestine. We also learned that Budapest used to be referred to as ‘Judapest’ because of the large Jewish community who lived there. We were introduced to the song Szomorú Vasárnap (Gloomy Sunday), which was blamed for the suicide of many heart-broken young people. There is a film with the same title, that can be watched on Youtube, and I strongly recommend everyone to watch it, because it is a heart-breaking film, where you not only get to know true love and vengeance, but familiarise yourself with the situation of Jews in Hungary before and during the Holocaust. This is the Szomorú Vasárnap scene of the film:

And this is another version of the song, which used to be popular in Hungary:

We hope you enjoy this.