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The Most Interesting Urban Legends of Debrecen

Just like any other city, Debrecen has its own dark history with scandals, intrigues, violence, and murder which make for interesting reading. It’s a far cry from today, Debrecen is now considered one of the safest cities in Hungary, and yet the history remains.  There are several interesting buildings and streets in the city that hide some scandalous history.

Urban Legends Debrecen

The Death Clinic and Secret Doctor Experiments in Debrecen

A complete thriller took place at 29 Péterfia Street in the 1930s. It started when a young lady, Piroska Földesi visited a private practice. She was diagnosed with pregnancy and died of abortion surgery but from what we know today, she probably had appendicitis. The surgery was performed by young medical students, led by a drunk doctor. The horror story shook the citizens at the time, and the building on Péterfia Utca became infamous and known as the Death Clinic. 

Medical training has been taking place in Debrecen since 1921. During the 1930s, legend has it that secret human experiments and illegal organ trafficking were carried out by drunk, and drug-addicted doctors and medical students in order to fuel their habits. This was during the mid-1930s,

Jewish Treasures of downtown

Many of the Jewish people living in Debrecen never returned after the genocide of the Nazis.  Following the change of regime, the “news” started to circulate that many wealthy families lived in the area around Hatvan Street before World War II and that their belongings were hidden from the Nazis in the cellars. Adventurers visited the area of the Kápolnás Street Synagogue with metal detectors to check the cellars of the buildings. The legend says that there were many items of jewelry and other valuable items were found, but never documented. 

The Underground Level of National Instruments in Debrecen

NI was the first foreign (American) company to choose the city as its home. A rumor sprung up among the elderly who socialized in anti-US Cold War groups, that the surface factory is just a “showcase” and underneath it, there is an underground factory where the U.S. military experiments with atomic bombs, laser guns, and bioweapons. Interestingly, the distrust continues to survive although it has changed a bit. 

Among elementary school students, there is a theory that NI is developing a giant controller with which they can control the entire city. If true, we really would be living in a Smart City!…

The Visionaries of Arany János Street

In the 1920s and 1930s, the area around the Grand Station and today’s Petőfi Square was a place where the lower-middle-class lived. The area was run by the criminal underground, with dubious locales and nightclubs.

The contemporary Késes utca (the part behind today’s 24-story building) is probably named after the knife makers working there, but later the rumor started to spread that it was so named after the “stabbing” events and so became notorious and sought out by adventure seekers.

Another interesting group to frequent the area was a group of mysterious psychics, people living on Arany János Street who claimed that they were able to contact the dead. There were unexplained murder cases when investigators used their services to figure out what happened.

Much of Arany János Street has now been redeveloped today but there are still some ancient buildings whose basements may have housed seances with the dead.

The Legend of the Lyceum Tree

Located next to the Reformed Great Church is a Lyceum Tree, we don’t know exactly how old the tree is but it has become one of the greatest legends and symbols of Debrecen. Whether it be 200 or 250 years old, or whether it is really a tree or a shrub. These issues are still the subject of much debate. but the plant is a “witness” to many mysterious stories. 

The story goes, that during a heated debate with Bálint, the Reformed priest, Master Ambrosius (Catholic priest) tore off a branch from a  Lyceum bush and asserted that the teachings of Calvin would never become a religion. 

He stabbed the branch in the ground and said “there will be something of new faith when this branch will grow into a tree”.

To which priest Bálint gave the following answer: “Then it will be a tree.”

The little twig later grew into a shrub and then a tree, weaving the iron lattice window of the pastor’s house with its branches, thus symbolizing the consolidation of the Reformation.

Originally written in Hungarian by dbrcn.hu