September 3-9, 1918: Health first!

Barkóczi Janka

A hundred years ago at the end of World War I, health and wellbeing became important issues for the general public, and evidently, journalists also picked up the topic.

Residents were trying to do things both individually and in groups to help the exhausted, broken society find itself again. There were numerous reports on social activities and spectacular sporting events to advertise a healthy and active lifestyle, and entertain the masses. 

Inauguration of evangelical bishop, Sándor Raffay

The gentleman with the rakish mustache, Sándor Raffay (1866-1947) was inaugurated on September 6, 1918, as the next evangelical bishop of the Highland diocese. He held that position until 1945, and from 1939 he was also a member of the Hungarian upper house. Raffay was known for his tough work ethic; he translated the New Testament from Greek, introduced a brand new way of service, penned several publications and also had an active social life. In his inaugural speech he talked about the importance of evangelical schools, women's education and further development of the public school system. Although Trianon had a devastating effect on his diocese, he could still carry out major projects at the organization, for he was called the "Builder of Churches”. He had the peak of his career during the hardest times, and his position often required him to make crucial moral decisions. He opposed the anti-Jewish laws, and viewed non-practicing Jewish people as full members of the church. He also signed a petition to end all cruelty on June 21, 1944 with Calvinist and evangelical leaders. After surviving the siege of Budapest he resigned in June, 1945 and spent his last two years in retirement battling with serious illness, but still managed to leave behind a fascinating memoir.  

Disciplinary action against a MÁV officer

The case against Dr. József Hesslein, secretary at Hungarian State Railways, tells a lot about 1910s media. His sentence included suspension and a fine for violating official policies with his articles, which forbade state employees to write about politics. The only mitigating factor in Hesslein's case was the fact that he had no self-interest in writing about low pensions, teachers in poverty and other issues. His story was picked up by the news and became so popular that organizations started issuing statements in his solidarity. From the National Association of Pensioners to the Retired Railway Employees Association of Szeged, thousands of officials stood by Hesslein. He later became president of the National Association of Railway Employees in the Republic, and was sentenced for it in 1920.  

Hungarian children arrive from Switzerland

Children's vacation was a recurring theme in the news, and unlike the one in Abbazia, this turned out to be a successful one. The train's arrival at Nyugati railway station on September 8, 1918 is already a spectacular image, reminding us of the epic silent film. The kids stepping off the train were visiting Switzerland for recreational and dietary reasons. The idea came from Gerda Sophie von Eynem, wife of the military attaché of Bern, and was realized by the Child Protection League, who were quite busy during the war. The League was founded in 1906 by earl Gyula Andrássy and Dr. Sándor Karsai, based on the child protection law 1901. VIII., XXI. tc. With departments in thousands of Hungarian towns, they managed to work independently, while both adjusting to the local conditions and taking the needs of all age groups into consideration. They were managing foster homes, took care of war orphans, stood by the issue of state support for veteran and military families, and raised awareness on the criminalization of youth and prostitution (and organized vacations). Children were raving about their successful trip to Switzerland for the Az Újság's reporter: lounging, hiking in the sun, gorgeous scenery, weekly baths, chocolate, milk, bread, cheese, fruits and macaroni!  

MAC athletic championship on Margaret Island

On September 8 from 15:00, Hungarian Athletics Association held the first Hungarian youth mass sports championships on Margaret Island. They had walk run, high jump, long-jump, discus throw and shot put. The goal for the Association was to popularize mass sports and they succeeded, as a record number of 250 people entered their competitions.  

Rowing with high school students

We do not know exactly where these images were recorded, but it could be one of the Margaret Island boathouses. These exercises are from a popular training of that time. Swedish gymnastics were developed by Per Henrik Ling in the beginning of the 19th century, based on accurate anatomical and physiological observations. Hungarians got to know about the exercise from Baroness Kocsárdné Proff's book, which she published in 1913. Ling's fans designed „gymnastic tools” such as the wall bars, beam and vaulting box, which are still being used at high school gymnastics classes today. So the fact that he boys were easily rowing that 8 person canoe after such a vigorous warm-up comes as no surprise.

Soccer game of WAC and BAK

On September 8 - the same day when the Margaret Island athletics championships was held - Budapest Athletics Club was playing against the Wiener Athletik Club and won the game. The club was founded in 1897 and had several memorable victories throughout their history. The field on Üllői út was in compliance with international standards, and was a relatively new institution at that point. It was built on land provided by the capital in 1911, to satisfy the general football fever. Next year they opened the MTK field on Hungária út, and then in 1922, UTE also got their own field on Megyeri út. From that moment the news were flooded with soccer related reports, although it took a while for camera operators to start catching the actual goals on tape.