Housed in a striking modern building, the centre opened in 2004 on the 60th anniversary of the start of the Holocaust in Hungary. The thematic permanent exhibition traces the rise of anti-Semitism in Hungary and follows the path to genocide of Hungary’s Jewish and Roma communities. A sublimely restored synagogue in the central courtyard, designed by Leopold Baumhorn and completed in 1924, hosts temporary exhibitions. An 8m-high wall nearby bears the names of Hungarian victims of the Holocaust.
The exhibits consist of a series of maps, photographs, personal effects and graphic videos. The music is festive to begin with, but the exhibits are accompanied by the sounds of a pounding heartbeat and marching as the doomed are deprived of their freedom and dignity and deported to death camps in Germany and Poland. The films of the camps, taken by the liberators, are particularly harrowing, featuring piles of corpses and emaciated survivors.