Underground Hospitals Remain as a Reminder of the Past in Hungary

By: Jo Rochelle

The Cold War era saw lots of tension between the United States and the former Soviet Union. As the US tried to contain the spread of communism in the West, similar resistances cropped behind enemy lines. In 1956, a huge uprising in Hungary threatened the Soviet Union’s hold on the country. They wanted a more democratic and free nation, but the Soviets quickly crushed the rebellion–it only lasted 12 days. But as the Soviets were wreaking havoc on the surface, something extraordinary was going on under the surface in Budapest’s natural caves.

The Hospital in the Rock, as it is now called, was first constructed during World War II. At first, it was an air raid alarm control system hub. After that, it became a first aid center and eventual hospital. Soldiers and civilians alike were treated here, regardless of what side of the war they fought on. That sentiment continued well into the Cold War, with the hospital serving as a refuge from the destruction of the USSR putting down the Hungarian Rebellion. It was also expanded into a bunker by the Hungarian Communist Party in response to threats of nuclear warfare. With a water storage system that could hold up to a three week supply and an air supply system that cleaned polluted air, they were prepared for the worst.

The Hospital in the Rock has since provided a number of services, including a Civil Defense Forces Store. It remained classified until 2002, and, in 2007, it was renovated to become a museum. Today, it serves as an exhibition facility with a number of programs for tourists, such as civil defense and medicine thematic activities. Interested? Check out more at http://www.sziklakorhaz.eu/en

Pictures courtesy of BBC and the Hospital in the Rock website.