The doctor who tended to the injured from both sides

Doctors, in line with their Hippocratic oaths, were of tremendous help to the injured during the revolution. Twenty-nine year-old Vilmos Oláh was one of them and organized the ambulances that operated from Péterfy Hospital to help the revolutionaries, once he saw the endless line of fighters arriving will bullet wounds. The doctor, who is in good health to this day, considers it one of the miracles of the revolution that it took only a few hours to find 60 drivers for the 60 ambulances and 100-120 volunteer nurses.

On one occasion, Oláh tended the wounds not only of revolutionaries, but he also treated two soldiers fighting on the side of the regime after they were transported to him. He did not hesitate to treat them, but placed them in a separate ward and told them not to say a word as to which side they had been fighting on. Despite this warning, the soldiers’ identities were soon revealed, and a few of the revolutionaries present tried to break into their room to execute them. Oláh, however, would not let them in, saying he was not about to allow any vigilante justice on his watch. Oláh himself was then threatened with execution as well, but he called over the leader of the revolutionary group, who sided with the doctor and then forbid these members of his group from entering the hospital wards.

On October 29, the doctor went to Austria to bring bandages, medicine, medical instruments, chocolate and oranges (which were unavailable in Hungary) for the injured. That same day he was also elected to be the deputy leader of the hospital revolutionary council, through which he revealed to his subordinates their files that the communist authorities had assembled on them about their personal and professional lives. It was a cathartic experience for every hospital worker, for this was when they learned what the authorities thought about them.

After the revolution was overthrown, the post-revolution communist henchmen arrived at the hospital on the night of December 5 looking for him, but he was able to convince them that Vilmos Oláh had escaped to Austria. On April 1, 1957, he was dismissed from the hospital and was charged with importing machine guns and mines from Austria, which was not true at all, since he had only imported medicine and other supplies to aid the wounded. It was at this point that the two communist soldiers who he had rescued during the revolution came forward to testify on his behalf, as well as a Russian officer who he had also assisted during the revolution, which ended up saving his life. His humanitarian actions during the revolution saved him not only from the hangman’s noose, but also from prison entirely.

Bence Csatári