The other evening as we watched a about Budapest called Travel Man on channel four, I caught a quick glimpse of what looked like a metal weeping willow tree and knew I had to find out more about it.
The tree particularly interested me, because one of my hobbies is making wire bonsai trees and although this one looked quite large, it looked beautiful.
I found out that the Tree of Life is a commemoration for the people who risked their lives to help keep the Jewish population of Budapest safe during the days of exportation in WWII. Raoul Wallenberg was a Swedish diplomat at the time and was one of the principle leaders in the movement to protect the Hungarian Jews. If this group had been caught, they would have been executed.
The famous Tree of Life Memorial is a commemorative sculpture that has its home in the center of Raoul Wallenberg Park. It was designed to pay tribute to the 5,000 Holocaust victims that are buried in the area. It is made into the shape of a willow tree, which in traditional Hungarian Jewish thinking, is a symbol of mourning. It can also represent an overturned menorah. There is a synagogue here, with some rather famous copies of Torah housed in their ark. This Tree of Life is an amazing work of art, every leaf has the name of a family etched on it.
The park was started in the 1990s after Hungary was returned to a democratic state. A large donation from the world famous Estee Lauder (approximately $5 million U.S.) made the whole memorial possible. The completion of the memorial occurred in 1996.
So many lives lost. I wonder how that has changed the destiny of all those left behind with no sons to carry on the family name. But they have taken more than just the sons or daughters, they have destroyed a complete line of what could have been. What should have been.
All those sons and daughters that should have been born, the weeping willow tree is still weeping today…