As she moved forward, she noticed multitudes of scattered worn-out shoes covered a part of the bank at a distant. Approaching further, she realized they were not real ones but part of a permanent sculpture. She took out her guide-book and opened the page mentioning this particular art. She learned that the local militiamen who were aligned with the Nazis in last World War would bring the rounded-up dissidents and members of the Jewish community to the bank. The victims would then line up facing the river, taking off their shoes. They will be chained together. Then only the two book-end ones would be shot to die instantly and falling into the water dragging along the rest, still alive but drowning eventually. The sculpture, appropriately titled “Shoes on the Danube Bank” was the brainchild of a local artist to confront this nation’s dark history.
Suddenly, the dense fog surrounding Ms. Volodya morphed into a dark cloud with flashes of burst of machine gun fires and heavy artilleries. Ms. Volodya began to drown into a deep memory of her own distant past. She was a military nurse in the Russian army in the same war. In final year, she was assigned to a front unit that was marching forward to liberate Europe from the grips of the Nazis. On arriving Hungary, they came under an intense bombing campaign. When the dust settled, her medical unit got a call to attend to a group of wounded soldiers who got trapped in a trench, just outside this city. As her nursing unit approached the location, all they saw a series of erect black military boots, as if to signal the location of the wounded. But soon the horror became apparent. Nazis were able to capture the group of Russian soldiers there. Before retreating, they machine-gunned the entire unit, severed their legs from the knees and placed inside individual boots. In harsh cold weather, each set then became like a wooden stake, standing freely and offering a macabre display of human atrocity.
As the sun began to rise, Ms. Volodya came back to her senses. She then heard a tune coming out of a passing double-decked ship. It was Late John Lennon’s “Imagine.”