It Was the Worst of Times…

If you could see the detail on the stones in this picture, you’d notice that they were all tombstones — memorial markers, really, since this is a memorial garden for 24 mass graves on the grounds of the Jewish museum in Budapest, on the grounds of the Dohany utca Synagogue. And absent any context, you’d notice another oddity — virtually all the final dates are either 1944 or 1945, when Hungary joined most of the rest of the world in taking full leave of its humanity.  In one sense, it’s a story as old as Abraham, but seeing the stark and terrible results of the 20th century rendition will move any thinking man of God to reflection — a litmus test, perhaps, dipped into the “Final Solution” to gauge the condition of the heart.

What if I had been there? Would I have housed a five-year-old Jewish boy and his mother in my home to shelter them from the atrocities of the age like a Swedish diplomat did, allowing our guide to share his story some 67 years later? Will our children’s children’s children come to some new memorial to utter depravity and criminal indifference? Or will one, ten, or perhaps even 100,000 people be moved to lay a stone upon my grave because I stepped up?

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