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The Historical Dark Side of Debrecen

Just like any other city, Debrecen has its own dark history with scandals, intrigues, violence and murder which make for interesting stories. A far cry from what today’s Debrecen which must be one of the safest cities in Hungary.  There are several interesting buildings and streets in the city that tell some scandalous stories.

Petőfi Square, the Little Chicago of Debrecen

Petőfi Square started to play an important role in the life of the city only in the second half of the 19th century, but before this time it was used as a dumping ground. With the construction of the railroad, it became popular, but it was never an upper-class neighbourhood, but rather the “entertainment center” of the working class. It was also called “Little Chicago”. 

The Kossuth Hotel stood at the corner of what is now Elizabeth Street, operated as a reputable place at first. Later it was seen as a dangerous inn because if the guest did not pay, they would throw them out onto the street or search their wallet while he slept. 

On the street known as Késes, (translates as Knife in English) located behind a 24 story building the street was probably named after the knife makers located there, but a far more interesting story arose that quickly became widespread, that it was named so because of stabbings there.

Arany János Street was the center of “seeing the dead”

The former Arany János Street was the center of “seeing the dead”. Prophecies were made, seances were held at murder sites, but they did not usefully assist in investigations. In the ’20s and’ 30s, the police also turned to the use of seances.

Murders of the Péterfia street

At Péterfia utca 29 was the doctor’s office of a private physician who carried out a fatal operation on Piroska Földesi in 1933. After the tragic operation, a car appeared in front of her mother’s house, with the body of Piroska wrapped in a carpet and the clinic became known as the Death Office.

Péterfia Street was a lively part of the city, home to well-off families. However, in 1888, there was an inheritance dispute between András Móricz and his son, Joseph, which eventually led to the boy shooting his father. He was sentenced to death; his sister sent everyone out of the house one morning, then shot her mother and finally herself. The evil irony of fate is that the boy finally got away with a light prison sentence. Their story is still referred to as the swan song of the Civic City, Debrecen.

The stories were told by CityLegends.