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Need ideas for student travel focused on WWII and the Cold War - "Rhetoric of War and Rembrance"

I am looking to put together a study abroad experience for about 25 students. The trip would take place during the summer months. Our class would focus on the rhetoric of the WWII and the Cold War in Prague, Vienna, Budapest. We would like stay for about three weeks.

Was wondering if anyone could provide some pointers as to "must see" places for my students. I know for certain we will visit the House of Terrors museum.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Posted by
11015 posts

Budapest

For this you should really consider hiring a guide. (I know a guy if you are interested). There is just so much and a lot of it subtle; but important.

http://www.forteantimes.com/features/fortean_traveller/98/budapest_hungary.html
http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&frm=1&source=web&cd=2&ved=0CCYQFjAB&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.holocaust-history.org%2Fhungarian-photos%2F&ei=b9yJVJWuJo-eyAT3pIGIAQ&usg=AFQjCNEpit792Hug6NVyG18esxQd8UKSFA&sig2=fzXqzhJx67iwO0LMRCdq7w&bvm=bv.81456516,d.aWw
• House of Terror (despite the kitsch name it is amazing) http://www.terrorhaza.hu/
• Hospital in the Rock http://www.sziklakorhaz.eu/en
• Citadel (Gellert Hill) where some WWII and Soviet aircraft artillery pieces are on display
• Tank.hu where you can get some hands-on experience with a cold war era Soviet Tank
• Military History Museum http://www.militaria.hu/
• Statute of Reagan at Szabadsag ter
• Russian War Memorial at Szabadsag ter
• Shoes on the Danube
• Jewish Deportation Ghetto (most of District VII)
• Corner of Hajos utca and Lazar utca there is a building with some machine gun bullet holes still in the plaster
• Agriculture Ministry opposite the Parliament building. Each one marks a bullet hole from "Bloody Thursday", 25 October 1956, when the protesting crowds of the Uprising were fired upon.
• Jozsefvaros train station (now unused Deportation station)
• Statue Park (where all the communist era statues were relocated for display
• Budapest Stumbling stones stolpersteine: https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=z1PJp-HQ_qTY.kijp6a3KBut0&ie=UTF8&oe=UTF8&t=m&msa=0

Gellert Hotel where Schindler stayed when he came to warn the Jews and where Eichmann spent some time.
Eichmann's home in town and the building that housed his offices still stands.
Any of the synagogues has a story

I actually own a small Cold War Era fall out shelter if anyone would be interested in a tour. Pretty rough, pretty nasty.

Posted by
11015 posts

Students need context in history. Here are some books and movies that you might find helpful.

The first two book that are highlighted are father and daughter works on the same subject of the cold war. The first is a first hand account written during the cold war. The second written by his daughter after "the change". interesting the two perspectives on the same issue. The prison referenced in the accounts is still in Buda and still a prison.

The second two books are also two first hand accounts on the same topic of Kasztner's attempt to save Jews in Budapest during WWII. Again the two perspectives on the same topic, like in the first two books, teaches a lot about the impact of context on the various windows into the past

Finally the movie that is highlighted will help to find appreciation in being in the time we are now.

Budapest / Hungary Book and Movie List

Books
1. The Forbidden Sky: Inside the Hungarian Revolution by Endre Marton – Cold War Historical Account
2. The Great Escape: Nine Jews Who Fled Hitler and Changed the World by Kati Marton – WWII Historical Account
3. Enemies of the People: My Family's Journey to America by Kati Marton – Cold War Historical Account
4. A History of Hungary by Laszlo Kontler – General History
5. When Angels Fooled the World by Charles Fenyvesi – WWII Historical Account
6. Revolution 1989: The Fall of the Soviet Empire by Victor Sebestyen (Hungarian) – Cold War Historical Account
7. Central Europe: Enemies, Neighbors by Lonnie Johnson – Cold War Historical Account
8. The Sword and the Crucible. Count Boldizsar Batthyany and Natural Philosophy in Sixteenth-century Hungary by Dora Bobory - History
9. Budapest: A Critical Guide by Andras Torok, Andras Egyedi and Andras Felvideki – General History
10.The Paul (Pal) Street Boys, Ferenc Molnar – Historical Novel
11.The Invisible Bridge, Julie Orringer – WWII Historical Novel
12.Under the Frog by Tibor Fischer – Cold War Historical Novel
13.A Taste of the Past: The Daily Life and Cooking of a Nineteenth-Century Hungarian-Jewish Homemaker by András Koerner – Golden Age Historical Account
14.Nobody Knows The Truffles I've Seen by George Lang – WWII / Cold War Historical Account
15.The Smell of Humans: A Memoir of the Holocaust in Hungary by Ernö Szép – WWII Historical Account
16.The Budapest Protocol by Adam LeBor – WWII Historical Novel
17.Bridge at Andau by James A. Michener – Cold War Historical Account
18.Budapest 1900: A Historical Portrait of a City and Its Culture by John Lukacs – Golden Age Historical Account
19.The Envoy: The Epic Rescue of the Last Jews of Europe in the Desperate Closing Months of World War II by Alex Kershaw – WWII Historic Account
20.Kasztner's Train: The True Story of an Unknown Hero of the Holocaust by Anna Porter – WWII Historic Account

21.Ligeti, Kurtág, and Hungarian Music during the Cold War (Music in the Twentieth Century) by Rachel Willson – Cold War Historic Account

Film
1.Gloomy Sunday – WWII / Cold War
2.Kontroll – Social Commentary
3.Freedom's Fury – Cold War Documentary
4.Budapest Retro – Cold War Documentary
5.The Journey – Cold War Historical Story (1959, Yul Brynner, Deborah Kerr)
6.Budapest to Gettysburg: One man’s new birth of freedom - Documentary

Posted by
11015 posts

And Fred could probably correct me here if I am mistaken; but I believe that the Russians conquered more German held territory, and killed more Germans by a factor of 2 as compared to the US/British/French. Assuming that Fred thinks me correct then that's an angle that we don't teach in the US.

To do the best of the Budapest Cold War and WWII history tour you will need a full 3 days on the ground. Four would probably be better.

For some context (but not the order I would do them in); The House of Terror is a half day with a group of that size. Same with the Hospital in the Rock. These are pretty much the must do sites and you wont find anything like them elsewhere. So one day is totally gone. Reagan, the Russian War Memorial and the shoes on the Danube, the Agriculture Building Memorial and the Glass House make at least half a day. Up in Buda, between the museum and Gellert Hill you have at least 1/2 of a day. Another day completely gone. The Holocaust stories and sights in Districts 7 and 8 will fill an entire day. These are the old Jewish districts and there is much that remains from WWII. Three days complete. Statue Park and anyone of a number of smaller attractions tied back to the period would fill another day and you have spent four days and still haven't done any typical Tourism things like the bath houses, parliament, theaters, Hero's square, Andrassy ut ---- although to be fair you will pass a lot when doing your war tour.

Off the top of my head I cant think of anything that cant be done with the transit system in maybe two or three groups split between the tram cars. Fairly economical too. It might be possible to get some special passes for the transit system.

Sounds like fun....................can I come along.................naaaaaa too old for that.

Posted by
12123 posts

Hi,

I would suggest also in tracking down sites in Budapest the "Soviet WW 2 Memorial." See that also in Vienna located close to Schwarzenbergplatz. Since Vienna is on your list, go to the Zentral Friedhof...the main cemetery. You can track down the Soviet presence in WW II and the cold war until they pulled out in 1955. As you enter you'll see the Soviet cemetery before reaching the Austrian one of WW 1.

There was a museum 25 years ago during the days of the cold war which gave a totally different, one sided view on the winning of WW 2 against Nazi Germany. I saw it once in the far eastern part of Berlin in Aug. of 1989. The museum located in Berlin-Karlshorst, housed in the same building where the Germans surrendered to the Soviets, dealt with the Soviet view of WW 2.

Pretty one sided, but you would expect that, ie, no mention of the Battle of Britain or of the Atlantic, the war in the Western Desert to defeat Rommel, and the cross-channel invasion, ie, D-Day or the Allied war in Italy. No audio-guides back then, most of the explanations were only in Russian, which I could not understand, the few other explanations were in German. Needless to say that once the Soviets left, their version of WW 2 went with them.

On the WW 2 facts as alluded to above, it's well known the tremendous role played by the Red Army and its willingness to sustain enormous casualties in what Churchill said the back of the German Army was broken on the Eastern Front.

Posted by
11015 posts

The Russian war memorial sits in front of the US Embassy. Reagan is walking from the Parliament towards the memorial (and the embassy). A reproduction of the memorial was constructed half way across town so it could show up in the last of the Die Hard movies (filmed in part in Budapest representing Moscow). The exterior of the Court House scene in the movie was filmed near Hero's square with a Museum being used to represent the Courthouse.

You didn't say the age of these students??

"Even Lonely Planet thinks Budapest has the best bars in the world! On
21 February, 2012, the A38 ship won Lonely Planet's public vote about
the best bars in the world - with 13 and a half thousand likes. The
third spot on the well-known tourist guide's list is occupied by the
first Budapest ruinpub, Szimpla kert , with 4480 likes..."

http://ruinpubs.com/index.php?id=blog&cikk=8

Posted by
11015 posts

Your students might get a kick out of this place: http://marximpub.hu/
For old communist junk you might look at Antik-Bazár at Klauzál utca 1 in District VII

http://www.antik-bazar.hu/

Do you have any idea where you are staying in Budapest? I am going to suggest deep in the heart of District VIII: cheap, fairly unrestored, gritty; the kids will have a blast.

This is great: http://twistedsifter.com/2013/07/old-photos-of-budapest-spliced-into-present-day/

Posted by
6543 posts

For 25 students and their chaperones, you'll probably need to contact a good travel agent specializing in the area. It's just enough people to transport on your own chartered bus. Many colleges in Europe will rent their dorms out to student groups in the Summer when their students are gone.

The House of Terror museum is not that good of an attraction. I would suggest your group go to a Nazi work camp or concentration camp even if it's a little out of your way. It'll be a real eye opener and well worth your time.

Posted by
4637 posts

The same topic is also under Czech Republic. If you want to read more about this topic look there.

Posted by
4 posts

When I was in undergrad I went on a study abroad trip focusing on media/ communication during communism and post communism in Central Europe.
-House of Terror (is designed to evoke emotion/atmosphere over historical importance…still worth a stop for your given course topic).
-If you can find someone to give you a private tour of the former Jewish Ghetto in Budapest it can be very powerful (my teacher was American and her husband born and raised in Budapest so they knew many hidden spots)
-Check out Tilos Radio studios (you can get a hold of them and sit in there studio while they record…something that did not even exist before 1992)…Budapest Talk Radio
-A must read would be Under a Cruel Star: A Life in Prague 1941-1968. This book drives into concentration camps, life during WWII outside of concentration camps (in hiding), why people and specifically Jewish people joined the communist party, mock trials, post-Stalinism, the Prague Spring, etc… An amazing story of this women’s life (short book only 180 pages and packed with information that students can grab onto for a more meaningful experience in Prague)