Friday, 14 February 2014


14 February 1945
Stunde Null

The remaining German units still holding out in Budapest capitulated on 14 February 1945, but by then the War was effectively over for Budapest. Silence fell. Years later, József Finta recalled to Krisztián Ungváry –
Walking along Osztrom Street I reached Bécsi Gate. I didn't meet anybody … not a soul – only dead bodies. No Russians either ...
I got to the Castle District, not a soul anywhere. I walked along Worbőczy Street [today Táncsics Mihály Street]. Nothing but bodies and ruin, supply carts and drays … I got to Szentháromsag Square and decided to look in at the Council in case I found somebody there.. Deserted. I went up to the office. Everything turned upside down, and not a soul...
In the deathly silence on my way home I didn't meet any Russians either.
This time I walked down Várfok Street... towards Moszkva tér. I was in such a state that I was only looking in front of me to make sure that I didn't stumble over a body... (Ungváry, p. 269)
The city was wrecked –
The mad orgy of ruins, entangled wires, twisted corpses, dead horses, overturned parts of blown-up bridges, bloody hoofs which had been torn off horse, broken guns, scattered ammunition, chamber pots, rusted washbasins, pieces of straw and entrails of horses floating in muddy pools mixes with blood, cameras, wrecked cars and tank parts. These all bear witness to the suffering of a city … (Lossonczy, p. 83, as quoted by Applebaum, p.3)
But then in a very short time indeed, in Budapest as across Central Europe, there came an extraordinary return to energetic social and economic life. The writer Sándor Márai (boyhood friend of András Pető's) later described in his novel Portrait of a Marriage how this appeared in Budapest –
Whatever remained of the city, of society, sprang to life with such passion, fury and sheer will power, with such strength and stamina and cunning, it seemed as if nothing had happened ... out on the boulevard there were suddenly stalls in gateways, selling all kinds of nice food and luxury items: clothes, shoes, everything you can imagine, not to mention gold Napoleons, morphine and pork lard. The Jews who remained staggered from their yellow star houses and within a week or two you could see them bargaining, surrounded as they were by the corpses of men and horses ... people were quibbling over prices for warm British cloth, French perfumes, Dutch brandy and Swiss watches among the rubble … (Márai p. 272, as quoted by Applebaum, p. 6)
A new world dawning

Now András Pető would have to make his own way in this broken world, this world being reborn, earn a living, find somewhere to live, establish his identity, do something to bring in money... He would need to find friends, make new contacts, see what might be arranged. As Miklós Kun would later remark –
...[András Pető] ended up with motor-disabled patients by chance, which is not a bad way at all. He could have come across something else and then he would have done something completely different...
Perhaps opportunity meant Pest but, if András Pető were still in Buda, that would have to await the temporary pontoon across the river, or even the 'Link of Life' bridge that soon had urgently to replace it. Already within two months, however, Róbert Szörenyi reports, Miklós Kun was making another decisive intervention in András Pető's life –
In April 1945 Gusztáv Bárczi. Director of the College of Special Education, went to Kun for beds and blankets, as the Germans had taken everything. Kun replied that he could have anything that he wanted, on the condition that he also took Pető, and on 15 April, Pető was appointed as a senior lecturer at the college... (Szörenyi, p. 214)
No record is available of András Pető's duties at the college but he was soon running his own medical practice elsewhere, first at Miklós Kun's flat in Pozsonyi út and then nearby at the flat of the Bródy family in Stollar Béla u., both in Pest.

Onward to conductive pedagogy

In November 1946 a young medical student Júlia Dévai met András Pető's in that second flat, close to the ruined Parliament building where he was both living and carrying on his peculiar medical practice. This, however, is another story, one that would quickly unfold in a world still unimaginable in February 1945.

(You can read for yourself what Júlia later told medical historian Júdit Forrai about those events (published in English), and what later still she wrote herself about how his motor therapy soon developed into conductive pedagogy (published in both Hungarian and English versions) and was granted a state institute that would operate as András Pető's personal fief. Unimaginable indeed!)


Applebaum, A. (2012) Iron Curtain: the Crushing of Eastern Europe, London, Penguin Books

Dévai, J. Interview, in J. Forrai (ed.) (1999) Memoirs of the Beginnings of Conductive Pedagogy and András Pető, Budapest and Birmingham, Új Arányhíd and Foundation for Conductive Education, pp. 151-156

Dévai, J. (2012) Egyszer volt, s mas is van: a sakarcú Pető. A konduktív nevelés kezdetei, in Zs. Kálmán (ed.) Negyedszazád a Kommunikació Bűvöletében, Budapest, Bliss Alapitvány, pp. 73-101

Dévai, J. (2012) Personal Memories from the days of the beginning of Conductive Education, in G. Maguire and A. Sutton (eds.) András Pető, Birmingham, Conductive Education Press, pp. 45-82

Lossonczy, T. (2004) The Vision is Always Changing, Budapest, 2004

Márai, S. (2012) Portrait of a Marriage (English translation), NY

Ungváry, K. (2002) Battle for Budapest, London, BCA

Previous postings in this thread

Sutton, A. (2013) András Pető: a close brush with destiny – I, Conductive World, 24 September

Sutton, A. (2013) András Pető: a close brush with destiny – II, Conductive World, 26 September

Sutton, A. (2014) András Pető – one day in history, 4 February 1945, Conductive World, 4 February

Sutton, A. (2014) András Pető : a terrible night, 11 February 1945, Conductive World, 11 February

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