As we sailed along the Hungarian, Austrian and German rivers, I could not help but think about how things in these countries all went so terribly wrong during the second world war. Ok, no nice words. These countries under Hitler killed hundreds of thousands of their own people, who happened to be Jewish.
Basil Fawlty may well have said, 'don't mention the war' but it was all there, in our faces and undeniable.
How could that have happened? Any German people we had contact with were all terribly nice and polite and service in shops etc was always excellent. I try to transport myself back to being German in the lead up to war and the extremely awful conditions German people were living under but I just cannot understand. The ultimate solution was always on my mind.
Germany and Austria in some ways have repented, but Hungary needs to have a good hard look at itself and who it votes for. At the moment it is under an extreme and repressive government. While Budapest may be a tourist delight, Hungary is not a country of liberty or freedom, of independent thought and opposing opinions.
I knew about it already, but along the bank of the Danube in Budapest is a a row of empty sculptured boots and I saw them from the number 2 tram. They are to commemorate the shooting of Jews and then pushing them into the river during the WWII. Some local lads thought it would be fun to put pigs' trotters into the boots, pigs being an unclean and a creature not for eating by Jews. No. As I said, Hungarians need to have a good look at themselves and adjust to the 21st century.
A couple of months before our trip when I was telling my nephew, who is now in South America with his partner following football and then tripping around various South Amercian countries, about our holiday and where we travelling to. The attempted extermination of Jews during WWII came up, and I was only a little surprised at his knowledge and he summed it up rather eloquently.
" Uncle Andrew, man, that was fucking shit".