US Orthopaedic Doc in Eastern Bloc 1958 – 1960. Part 3: Hungary

US Doc in Eastern Bloc 1958 – 1960


Photos from the petegrafton collection

Part 3: Hungary summer 1959 & Spring 1960.

The Background

Us Doc, an orthopaedic specialist, in Prague, summer 1959. His name is believed to be Dr A Seyfried.

We have, at the moment, no idea how it was that the American Doc, believed to be Dr A Seyfried, an orthopaedic specialist, was visiting Communist controlled countries in the Eastern Bloc. (My very grateful thanks to Liz Willis, former librarian with the Medical Research Council, London, for searching and locating in Pubmed papers written by a Dr A Seyfried. By their speciality – mostly in arthritic and rheumatoid conditions, and period of publication – 1953 – 1999,  and that these papers were mostly published in Polish specialist publications, and one published in a Czech  publication, we can be reasonably sure this is the one and same person. The full Pubmed list is at the foot of this Post.)

The Cold War was at its height – the Hungarian Uprising had been put down by Soviet tanks and military in October 1956 –  just three years before these photos were taken in Hungary.

It may be that Dr.Seyfried, and a colleague were working for, or attached to the World Health Organisation in Geneva.  In transparencies from Czechoslovakia a Mercedes with Swiss plates is shown.

The photos – Kodachrome transparencies – were mostly taken by a colleague – possibly also a visiting US doctor – of the “US Doc”.  They were bought on ebay in 2008.  The seller had additional sets of photos taken  – by the same source –  of visits to Poland and Czechoslovakia in 1958 and 1959.

Kodachrome transparency and mount, processed September 1958.

Only a  very few of the transparency mounts had an identifying name – place, or person. The majority didn’t.  The ebay seller batched the sales under country, and year.  The year can be identified by the Kodak lab  date stamp on the transparency mounts.

The transparencies shown here are selected first by the orthopaedic interest, and then by local photos, outings and so on.  They are a rare colour chronicle of aspects of everyday life, and civic life,  in countries that were to live under Communist/military control  in Eastern Europe for a further 32 years from when they were taken. And, of course, they show orthopaedic practices and care of children and adults at that time.

Please use the Leave a Reply facility to get in touch if you can identify towns, places, people, or anything you spot and can clarify.  It would be very much appreciated.



Orthopaedic  Practice

Dr Seyfried on the steps of one of the entrances to the Budapest Medical University. He is standing in front of the Surgery Clinic sign. Dr. Pal Rubanyi , presumed to be the department Director, is listed as University Teacher – see detail below.  Budapest, early Spring 1960.

Dr Seyfried standing next to Budapest Medical University Surgical Clinic sign, early Spring, 1960.  Crop of above photograph.

US or Hungarian medical colleague standing by the Mercedes the US Doc seems to be using on this early Spring 1960 trip to Hungary and Budapest. Possibly the entrance – or one of the entrances – to the Medical University is just up the street.

Nurse applying plaster to a patient’s wrist. Unknown clinic, but assumed to be in Budapest.  Early Spring, 1960.

Assumed to be orthopaedic patients doing exercises using dumb bells. Believed to be a Budapest clinic, early Spring, 1960.

Assumed to be orthopaedic patients on mats in exercise area. Unknown clinic, probably in Budapest. Variation of above photo.  Early Spring, 1960.

The sign outside the National Institute of Motor Therapy building, director Dr. Andras Peto.  Budapest, Early Spring, 1960.

The street sign of the National Institute of Motor Therapy, Director Dr Andras Peto .   Early Spring, Budapest, 1960.

Dr András Petö (1893 – 1967) developed a theory and practice of physical rehabilitation of children with motor disorders such as cerebral palsy and brain injury.  His approach became known in Britain in the 1980s following two BBC TV documentaries: Standing Up for Joe (1986) and To Hungary with Love (1987). His work was the foundation of what is known as  conductive education, and  is now, in some countries, also applied to adults with Parkinson’s disease and after-stroke conditions.

It is not known whether Dr Seyfried was aware of Dr. Peto’s work before he visited Hungary, or whether Hungarian medical colleagues mentioned him to Dr.Seyfried once he had arrived in Hungary.  If Dr Seyfried met Dr Petö there are no surviving photos of them in this collection.

Buildings of the National Institute of Motor Therapy, Budapest.  Note the Communist Red Star.   Early Spring, 1960.  Norbert Kalvach has since written to say “A “Mozgásterápiai Intézet” később Pető Intézet első épülete a Villányi út 67 szám alatt volt. Ma felújítva újra központi épület lett.”  (“The Moving Therapy Institute became the first building of Peto Institute at Villanyi ut 67.   Today it has been restored to become a central building”.)  My thanks to Norbert for this information.

A partial view of the one storey building of the National Institute of Motor Therapy, Budapest, early Spring, 1960.



Us Doc, Dr Seyfried, on the left, standing at the entrance of the Grand Hotel, with possibly a Hungarian colleague.  Probably Budapest, Summer 1959.  The location of the hotel is problematical as in 2018 there are two Grand Hotels in Budapest.  One is in the centre of Budapest and the second is on Margit Island, home to Palatinus Strand and Margit Island gardens.  (See 1959 photos below.)  What we are looking at in this photo is possibly the hotel on Margit Island, now known as the Danubius Grand Hotel Margitsziget.  The architectural features on the first floor are, in 2018, very similar to this photo from 1959, but the ground floor details and entrance has since changed.

The Fisherman’s Bastion – a nineteenth century fortress with seven turreted lookout towers. Budapest, summer 1959.

Dr Seyfried standing near ruins, with the Fisherman’s Bastion in the background. Budapest,1959.

Budapest and the Danube, Summer 1959.   My thanks to Szinisztra for identifying the location of this photo.

Central Budapest, summer 1959.

Central Budapest, summer’s evening, 1959.

Budapest, summer 1959.

Central Budapest, early Spring, 1960.

The Great Synagogue, Budapest, also known as the Dohany Street synagogue.  It is the largest synagogue in Europe and the second largest in the world.  (The largest synagogue is in New York.)  Early Spring, 1960.

Budapest street, with Communist Red Flag and Hungarian flags either side, Spring 1960.

The above street photo with the Communist Red Flag, flanked by two Hungarian flags is interesting as the inclusion of the Communist Red Star and hammer and sickle emblem within the colours of the Hungarian flag was symbolically torn out by those protesting against and fighting against the Hungarian Communist Party and the Soviet crushing of the October 1956 Hungarian Uprising.  It is not clear whether as a post-Uprising concession the Hungarian Communist regime dropped the red star and hammer and sickle from the Hungarian flag.

Hungarian Communist flag with Red Star and Hammer and Sickle symbol.

Hungarian flag with the Communist Red Star and Hammer & Sickle symbol ripped out, mounted on a captured Soviet tank.  The heavy shelling of the building and displaced slates is due to Soviet tank fire.

Hungarian flags in Budapest street with ripped out Communist Red Star and Hammer & Sickle, October 1958.  Unknown photographer.

The Hungarian Uprising started with a student demonstration in Budapest on 23 October, 1956 and quickly spread to workers who set up Workers Councils ensuring that services such as electricity and the radio, etc kept running.  The Uprising, also known as the Revolution, spread throughout Hungary.  Dithering at first, the Russians launched an armed intervention predominantly using tanks which often fired indiscriminately.  By 10 November the Revolution had been crushed by the Russian Soviets.  Approximately 2,500 Hungarians and 700 Soviet troops died.

Jack Esten was in Budapest when this Russian colonel drew his revolver and endeavoured to deprive him of his camera.”  Caption and source: Photography Year Book 1958.  Photo Jack Esten.  Jack Esten worked for the British Daily Herald as a Second World War photographer and was active into the 1950s.


Budapest – Palatinus Strand & Margit Island gardens

Palatinus Strand entrance, summer 1959.

Dr Seyfried looking at a black nude statue on the steps at the entrance of Palatinus Strand, Budapest, Summer, 1959.  In photos from the 1940s the nude was white and her right arm was stretched upwards.  This black nude was perhaps temporary whilst the white nude was being restored.  Note the board  for wheelchair use next to the statues in both photos.  The white nude with outstretched right arm was back in place in the 1960s, and is still – 2018 – in position.

Palatinus Strand, with white nude with out-stretched right arm, and Fiat derivative police car. The Palatinus Strand sign changed, too, from 1959, and remains – 2018 – as seen in the above photo.  Photo  Circa mid 1960s. Photographer Unknown. – Correction: Acsai Gyorgy has kindly pointed out that the above police car – a Lada -was not manufactured until the early 1970s, therefore the photo was probably taken from the early to mid 1970s onwards.

Sunbathers in swimming costumes, near one of the swimming pools, Palatinus Strand, summer 1959.

Palatinus Strand is a very popular collection of open air swimming pools and spa on the Margit Island in the Danube.  First opened in 1919, with a simple beach, it was significantly developed in the late 1930s.  Water to the pools is supplied by thermal springs.   Adjacent to Palatinus Strand there are popular public gardens. If  Dr Seyfried or his American colleague took photos of the open air baths themselves, they have not survived in this collection.

1940 colour photo of Palatinus Strand baths.  Photographer/source Unknown.

People in swimming costumes at Palatinus Strand, summer 1959.

Flower beds, swimming costumed people, and glimpsed in the distance (and in photo below) one of the pools at Palatinus Strand.  Summer, 1959.

Palatinus Strand, summer 1959.

People sitting and standing under the shade of trees near Palatinus Strand.  Note the parked motorbikes and mopeds in the background.  In the foreground a display of  for-sale wrapped bon-bons.

Refreshment cafe by Palatinus Strand and the gardens on Margit Island.  Budapest, summer 1959.

Dr Seyfried takes a photo of his US colleague, believed to be the gardens on Margit Island, Budapest. Summer 1959.

Visitors to the gardens on Margit Island, Budapest. Summer 1959.

Dr. Seyfried by an ice-cream seller, believed to be the gardens on Margit Island, Budapest. Summer 1959.

Budapest buses, believed to be by the gardens on Margit Island. Summer 1959.

Dr Seyfried standing on Margit Island. On the other side of the Danube is Obuda (Arpad Fejedelem utja).  Summer 1959. (My thanks to Matyas Keller for identifying the location in this photograph.)


Dr A Seyfried standing outside Szechenyihegy railway station. Near Budapest, early Spring 1960.

At Szechenyihegy the Hungarian Communist Regime in the late 1940s built a narrow gauge children’s railway which became very popular, and remains popular as an excursion destination in post Communist Hungary.

Detail of Dr Seyfried standing near Szechenyihegy railway station.  Early Spring, 1960.


Budapest – View from a High Window

View from a high window/balcony, over-looking the Danube, central Budapest, early Spring 1960.

Here are a series, taken on different times of the day, and different days from the same viewpoint.  It is assumed this was a hotel that Dr Seyfried and his US medical colleague were staying at during their early Spring visit to Budapest and Hungary.

Tug and barges on the Danube, Budapest, early Spring 1960.

War/1945 liberation memorial by the Danube, Budapest early Spring 1960.

Six open topped lorries with either troops or police or civilians parked near the War/1945 liberation memorial by the Danube. Budapest early Spring, 1960.  Note the stone parapet of the hotel/building balcony foreground.

Close up of the assembled open top lorries with military, police or civilians. Early Spring, 1960.


View of Budapest rooftops, early Spring, 1960.

Dr Seyfried standing on the steps of the Szent Istvan Bazilika, Szent Istvan Square, Budapest.  Summer 1959. (My grateful thanks to Matyas Keller for identifying the location of this photograph.)

Looking towards Budapest from elevated rural position. Early Spring 1960.


Somewhere in Hungary

Overcast day, somewhere by the Danube, early Spring, 1960.

War/1945 Liberation plinth in town square, with two male cyclists and two buses. Possibly a town near Budapest. Early Spring 1960.

Inter war or just post war village housing, with electricity wires and lone cyclist. Unidentified location, Hungary. Early Spring, 1960.

Cobbled main street in a small rural town, Hungary. Note the antennae on the far building on the right. Possibly a barracks town, or ex-estate landowner town. Early Spring, 1960.

Dr Seyfried standing in the middle of rural road after a spell of rain, with buildings, including a church in the near distance. Horse manure on the road and a man and women in a field. Unidentified location, Hungary. Early Spring, 1960.


Articles and Papers written or co-written by Dr A Seyfried between 1999 – 1953.  Source Pubmed.


Coming next, late April 2018

Dawlish:  Is it a Bird, Is it a Plane?

A Happening.

Photos by Pete Grafton.

Dawlish, Summer 2016.


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5 Responses to US Orthopaedic Doc in Eastern Bloc 1958 – 1960. Part 3: Hungary

  1. Elspeth Wight says:

    Really interesting. A snap shot of a moment in time with helpful historical context, details highlighted and inevitably many

    unanswered questions!


  2. KeMa says:

    “Dr Seyfried looking down the Danube, summer 1959. Unidentified location, Hungary.”
    Budapest, Margaret Island. The other side is Obuda (Árpád Fejedelem útja)

    “Dr Seyfried standing on the steps of a large unidentified church, believed to be in Budapest. Summer 1959.”
    The church is the Szent István Bazilika, Budapest, Szent István square


  3. Acsai György says:

    “Palatinus Strand, with white nude with out-stretched right arm, and Fiat derivative police car. The Palatinus Strand sign changed, too, from 1959, and remains – 2018 – as seen in the above photo. Photo Circa mid 1960s. Photographer Unknown.”

    The referenced image could not have been taken in the mid-1960s, as the Italians and Russians agreed to cooperate in 1966, and the factory was built around 1970. So the image must be from the early or mid seventies.


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