Look at these color pictures of Budapest, Hungary’s capital, in the summer of 1939, and you can’t help but think of what followed. Nobody is prepared for the war.
Hungary joined the Axis powers on November 20, 1940, when it signed the Tripartite Pact. Hungarian forces joined the German invasion of Yugoslavia in 1941. Miklos Horthy, a vehement anti-Semite who led Hungary from 1920 until 1944, enacted laws banning Jews from government employment, marriage, and voting. Similarly, Gypsies were persecuted and enslaved.
If you walk along the River Danube in the city, you might see a line of 60 metal shoes along the shore. Members of Hungary’s Arrow Cross Party forced as many as 20,000 Jews to wade into the river between December 1944 and January 1945, where they were beaten, stripped of their shoes, and murdered.