The park behind the Dohány street Grand synagogue is dedicated to Raoul Wallenberg since 1991. He was a Swedish diplomat in Budapest who made heroic efforts to save as many lives as he could in the Nazi-occupied Hungary by giving safety documents, protection letters and passports. His mission was a real success, he saved thousands of lives and today he is the symbol of humanity and courage. But in 1945, when the Soviets liberated and took Hungary everybody was suspicious in their eyes who had connections with neutral countries, so Wallenberg was taken to Russia and imprisoned in Moscow as a spy. He never came back and even today nobody knows how or where exactly one of the greatest rescuers lost his life. According to Russian notices he had a heart attack in 1947 in Moscow, Ljubljanka prison, but it wasn’t too convincing because there was no proof.
At the center of the park there is a weeping willow tree made of iron, it is called the Tree of Life. It has 6000 leaves that reminds us to the cca. 600 000 victims of the Hungarian Holocaust. Not only Jews were killed but also Gypsies, gay people and others. Most of the leaves have names engraved on them, if you touch a leaf it makes you think of a person’s life who died innocent. The construction of the park was financed by a famous American actor of the 1950s. His original name was Bernard Schwartz, his parents were Hungarian Jews but they left Hungary before the second World War. His more popular, actor name is Tony Curtis and he was a real legend in America, his career lasted for 6 decades. He played with Jack Lemmon and Marilyn Monroe as well. Tony Curtis came back to his birth country in 1990 to help the Hungarian Jewish community and supported the renovation of the Dohány street Grand synagogue and this monument was put here as well.
There is also a memorial to other Righteous Among the Nations (a title used by the State of Israel to describe non-Jewish people who saved Jews from the Nazis), among them: Swiss Vice-consul Carl Lutz, Angel Sanz Briz, the Spanish Ambassador in Hungary, Giorgio Perlasca, an Italian man who declared himself the Spanish consul, and released documents of protection and current passports to Jews in Budapest without distinction, Angelo Rotta, an Italian Prelate Bishop and Apostolic Nuncio of the State of Vatican City in Budapest. If you look at the tree you can see another symbol too, not only the tree. It looks like a menorah turned upside down. The menorah is the 7-branched candleholder.