Fairies in Zugliget – Children's sanatorium of Margit Révész

Margit Révész was a pioneer in the medical profession, choosing this career at a time when the road was not paved for women yet. In 1911, the child psychologist doctor founded her special education sanatorium, a residential institution in the forest of Zugliget. Our writing examines the life of doctor Révész and the children’s sanatorium, as it was called at the time, the story of “Sani”.

korteremben_782582.jpgMargit Révész was born on 25 August in 1885, in a village in Vojvodina, Bácsfeketehegy, and was born as Margit Reisz. Already his father, Fülöp Reisz, practiced as a local doctor and then as a dentist, and he Hungarianized the family surname in the late 19th century. Margit attended secondary grammar school in Békéscsaba and graduated here as well, and in 1909 she graduated as a neurologist from the University of Sciences of Budapest. At that time, women were still in much smaller numbers than men were in higher education. So much so that only a few years earlier, in 1900, Sarolta Steinberger, the first Hungarian female doctor, graduated from a Hungarian university.

ebedlo_782585.jpgShortly after graduating from university, Margit Révész founded an institute for children with special educational needs in a villa building in Zugliget, next to the Fairy Rock, in 1911, which was called the Margit Révész Special Education Children's Sanatorium and Forest School (aka Sani). She and her first husband Mihály Dósay, a second doctor at the mental hospital in Lipótmező, started running the institute. Their daughter Margit grew up within the walls of Sani.

erdei_manok_781995.jpgThe sanatorium welcomed children who were difficult to raise at home or were “nervous” from the age of three to adolescence. Thanks to the expansions, far more than the initial fifteen children were soon able to recover here. The villa was surrounded by a six-morgen park, where the “sanists” could not be bored, as it also had a playground, swimming pool and tennis court, not to mention the forest hiding places and the caves in the rocks. Classes were held in nature at the forest school.


During the Soviet Republic, Sani became the property of the state for a time and then it was returned to the doctor. At the time of nationalization, József Hrabovszky, the state inspector appointed to head of the institution, became the second husband of the previously widowed Margit Révész. Shortly afterwards, their three children, the "Hrabi children," were born one after the other in a short time. Between the two world wars, Sani flourished, and the related Fortepan photos date back to this period of peace.

During World War II, the sanatorium also served as a hiding place in Zugliget, an area that was even more separated at the time, and it was also a shelter for children of Jewish descent. After the war, the Joint International Jewish Humanitarian Organization rented the building, and orphaned children were moved here. The doctor started teaching at the Special Education Teacher Training College (now Eötvös Loránd University, Gusztáv Bárczi Faculty of Special Education).


In addition to child psychology, Margit Révész also dealt with female psychology and gave lectures in feminist circles. In addition, the treatment of “morally depraved” children was also her area of expertise, which included the integration into society of children who had been placed in a detention institution because of a crime or had been the victim of abuse. She had a number of studies published on deviant young people (The Role of the Physician in the Development of Children and Adolescents Difficult to Raise, Psychological Foundations of Criminal Pedagogy).

After the nationalization in 1948, emergency housing was established in the old sanatorium, and then the building slowly began to ruin, part of which was demolished during the construction of the Libegő (chair lift). Eventually the whole villa decayed, it is currently replaced by a condominium. Margit Révész died in 1956, at the age of 70, and worked until her death. Regarding the aftermath of the Sani, the former community developed such close ties that some of them survived the institution. Former staff members used to meet in the Sani Friends Club from time to time.


Translated by Zita Aknai


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