On the 60th anniversary of the closing off of Budapest's Jewish ghetto, April 15, 2004, Hungary's first major center for Holocaust research and exhibits opened in the presence of Hungarian statesmen and the Israeli president. The stone facade of this one-time synagogue is an eerily high, windowless wall; the entrance comprises two tall, massive iron doors. Just inside the courtyard is a black wall bearing the names of all known Hungarian victims of the Holocaust, including both Jews and many Roma (Gypsies). From there you go downstairs into a cellar, where you proceed through a compelling and haunting blend of family and individual stories told through photos, films, original documents, personal objects, and touch-screen computers (with all text also in English). You are taken from 1938, when the Hungarian state first began depriving Jews and others of their rights; to 1944, by which time these people were being systematically deprived of their freedom and their lives; to liberation
On reaching the final space, a small synagogue, you can still hear the wedding music from the first rooms: a poignant reminder of the pre-Holocaust era. Unlike the Terror háza (House of Terror), which honors victims of both nazism and communism, nothing at all about this feels forced. It is just right. This is a moving and dignified testament to genocide.