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  • Reburial of the Past

    On the Future of the City – the Jewish and Other Districts
    Budapest in the Past and Today – Mumus, 09. 07.

    There are hardly any non-civilian organizations in Hungary today that would make a special point of protecting the old Jewish district. Even though it does not only mean the preservation of a former identity, but also its renewal. There is no future without the past and the authentic preservation of our artificial environment: it is an investment in the future. Maybe even tourism-wise, just like in Prague, Cracow or elsewhere – this is a fact that many people have already drawn attention to. Not to mention that the Jewish heritage of Hungary has become an integral part of the Hungarian cultural heritage too.
    The first mediaeval synagogue of the Buda Castle was found a couple of years ago not far from the National Office of Cultural Heritage. And it was reburied right away. Because to replace the road above it seems to have been a technically „impossible” task. Without a wince they reburied it, just like the later constructed but also mediaeval synagogue in Mihály Táncsics Street damaged during the siege in 1686 excavated by László Zolnay in the early 1960s. When similar findings came to light in downtown Vienna, it was made a kind of architectural sensation. It has been so ever since as a museum was opened right there, and because people were overjoyed and hoped that the excavation of the Gothic building set on fire almost 600 years ago will let them forget the memory of victims burnt 60 years before. In Hungary the synagogue in Óbuda and the Castle District were belittled, even hushed up. I am harbouring suspicions that „officiality” does not actually regard the Hungarian Jewish heritage as part of the Hungarian cultural heritage.

    Endre Rózsa T.

    I must refine Rózsa T’s enthusiasm: the renovation of the synagogue in Páva Street was exemplary and it is now a world sensation. Hungarian culture has actually saved one of the most significant works of Baumhorn who had built and extended more than 40 synagogues and had been forgotten undeservedly. On the open day of Cultural Heritage (September 19th and 20th) guided tours, high-standard lectures and the design sketches of the expanded and topically enriched „Kultucca” (cult-street) also included in our present edition have achieved success. Written with the aim to rouse people, the negative utopia written by Hugo Bettauer (A City without Jews, 1922) seems to be influential even today both as a novel and a film: to imagine a city in Europe and its cultstreet without Jewish culture is a paradox in itself. According to plans by the advisory board behind HDKE (the Holocaust Memorial Centre) and its new manager, László Harsányi, in the near future when the number of survivors is decreasing, the Documentation Centre is to function as a live cultural workshop presenting Jewish culture to the wider public, besides being primarily a memorial and research institute. This is an objective civilians and politicians shaping the city must keep in sight.

    György Szegő