Christmas at the Hospital in the Rock

Christmas is always sad at the time of war – this was especially true during December 1944. The Soviet army had just encircled Budapest on Christmas Eve, this was when the siege of the capital started. Ágota Steinert, who was only four years old at the time, has the following memories from that day:

„We went to the basement, where everybody – according to their temper – prayed, cursed, was furious or stayed silent. Something baffling and unimaginable happened. Just as if an earthquake had started and the walls had wanted to collapse on us. The whole house was trembling, there was whooshing and weird noises, buzzing and booming.”

She and her family moved to the Hospital in the Rock on Christmas Day.

Ágota Steinert and her sister during Christmas.

Janka Benkő’s verification from the hospital.

Christmas display from the Hospital in the Rock Museum in 2007.

Entrance to the office of Dr. István Kovács.

Lifeguards in the Castle District

The Holocaust was one of the most horrible events of not just the XX. Century, but probably even of the history of humanity. Nearly 6 million people of Jewish descent – or those classified as such – were killed across Europe, and more than 15 million died as a result of the persecution. This happened not only in Nazi Germany, but also in the allied and occupied countries.

Fortunately, however, not everyone served the persecutors, many helped the persecuted. In Hungary, perhaps Raoul Wallenberg became the most famous, but many others took their share of the rescue work. While some were able to help hundreds, others could only help one or two people. However, the people who risked everything – and sometimes gave their lives – to save others, are all heroes.

Friedrich Born, delegate of the International Red Cross in Hungary during 1944-45.

Red Cross protective document for a doctor of the Hospital in the Rock.

Dr. Endre Mester, one of the Jewish doctors of the Hospital in the Rock, sent as forced labor.

Testimony of dr. Endre Mester, about dr. István Kovács, who protected the forced labor doctors of the Hospital in the Rock.

The “Vérmező” during the WWII

Among the locations related to the siege of the Castle District, we now present Vérmező. Today’s peaceful park was the site of fierce fighting in 1945, with many wounded being transported from here to the Hospital in the Rock. The importance of the area was increased by the fact that it was the last place where the aircraft carrying supplies could land. After the war, the park was covered with scattered vehicles.

According to the recollections of Dr. Elek Farkas, the wreckages found here were used to equip the Virus Vaccine Production Institute on the territory of the Hospital in the Rock – among other things, chair legs were made from the aluminum tubes found in the aircraft.

DP-28 machine gun from WWII.

Helmet used by the Royal Hungarian Army from the 1940s.

Soviet minesweeper grenade from the 1940s.

German bandages from the 1940s.

Nuclear weapons in Hungary

From the 1950’s the relationship between the Unites States and the Soviet Union was becoming more and more tense. The third world war seemed inevitable, and – as a member of the Warsaw Pact – Hungary was supposed to take part in it. According to some military plans, Hungary was to attack Northern Italy or Bavaria in cooperation with other communist states.

Of course Western NATO countries had similar ideas, in case armed conflict seemed unavoidable. Both sides would have used nuclear weapons – big or small – in these conflicts, even in densely populated areas. Fortunately all this never had to happened.

Cold War poster – “Together in protecting socialism and peace”

Comparing the destructive potential of nuclear weapons.

The effect of a W-88 Trident nuclear warhead above Budapest.

Potential nuclear strike targets, according to an American plan from 1956.