Founded by Dr. József Csillag
Dr. József Csillag, the founder and chief physician of the former Csillag Sanatorium, which has been almost forgotten, was born in Győr on 28 October 1887. His father was Géza Csillag (1850?-1944?) and his mother Gizella Goldberger (1859-1927). He attended the Jewish elementary school and graduated from the Hungarian Royal State High School in Győr in 1907.
He graduated from the Royal Hungarian University of Budapest in 1912 then gained experience abroad, in Berlin and Vienna between 1913 and 1914.
In the First World War he served as a military doctor with the 10th Artillery Regiment for 39 months and was discharged with the rank of colonel. He was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Order of Franz Joseph, the Gold Cross of the Crown, two Signum Laudis and the Charles Cross of the Order of the Garter.
From 1917 he worked in the surgical department of the Rókus Hospital in Budapest as a surgeon, gynaecologist, laryngologist and urologist.
From the beginning of 1920 he lived again in Győr where he married Józsa Korein (Jozefin) (1901-1944). They had four children.
Dr. József Csillag opened his Csillag Sanatorium in Győr, at 20 Árpád út, which he then run as the Director-General Chief Physician. The Sanatorium made it possible for patients from the counties and towns of Upper Transdanubia not to have to be taken to Budapest for continuous medical and nursing care, and to have access to complex health care in Győr more quickly and cheaply.
At the time of opening, the sanatorium could accommodate 14 inpatients and had single and double rooms for accompanying persons. The operating theatre was equipped with roof lighting for surgical and gynaecological procedures and was equipped with the most sophisticated equipment and instruments of the time. The X-ray department and laboratory were also equipped to European standards. Even the doctors who visited the institute were surprised by the mechanical marvels of the body straightening room. Patients with all but contagious diseases were treated.
Initially, patients were cared for by Red Cross nurses led by a head nurse, later joined by Lutheran deaconesses. The working relationship between the Chief Physician and the deaconesses was characterised by mutual respect.
Dr. József Csillag’s wife was in charge of catering in the Sanatorium. Their son Antal, who himself became a surgeon, also took part in the work (after the war he worked for decades at the János Hospital in Budapest).
The Csillag family lived in the Sanatorium. When treating a serious patient during the night required the expertise of the Chief Physician, deaconess Lenke Zsohár was obliged to wake the doctor.
The Sanatorium employed excellent doctors. One of the medical staff was József Csillag’s brother-in-law, Dr. Sándor Korein (1899-1989), Senior Physician in internal medicine, who also served as the general consultant. He also acted as a volunteer doctor at the Home for the Poor and the Elderly Singles.
According to recollections, Dr Gyula Corradi (1905-1980), a specialist in infant and paediatrics, was also involved in the work of the Sanatorium.
Dr. Csillag’s statement, made at the opening of the Sanatorium, that his institution was not only available to a narrow group of people, but to the whole of Győr society, is confirmed by newspaper cuts of the time.
Dr. József Csillag also worked as a doctor for the rowing team of the Győr Gymnastics Club. He was a member of the German Surgical Society and was invited to their events until 1942.
He was a member of the School Board of the Győr Jewish Community in the 1930s, and of the Győr Committee of Judicial Affairs as a virilist until 8 January 1942. His membership ended by order of the Minister of the Interior.
The work of the Sanatorium continued, and in 1943 the cellar was declared an air-raid shelter. During the first bombing raid on Győr, the doctors and nurses of the Sanatorium worked almost non-stop.
At the end of May 1944, the Csillag Sanatorium closed its doors and Dr. Csillag together with his family was forced to the ghetto of Győrsziget. On Sunday, 11 June, they were herded into a cattle car with the first group of Győr Jews (except for his eldest son, who was then serving as a forced labourer). After a few days the train arrived with them at Auschwitz-Birkenau.
The closed Sanatorium was officially declared “Jew-free” by the Councillor of the Mayor’s Office, István Horváth.
The building of the Csillag Sanatorium has also been claimed by the Evangelical Diaconal Motherhouse for further health work, and a petition for this purpose has been submitted to the Ministry of the Interior. The Government Commissioner for Medical Workers allocated the Sanatorium’s medical equipment and facilities to the Motherhouse.
The Sanatorium was hit by a bomb (first damaged on 2 July 1944), the roof was smashed and the windows were broken. The building now attracted the attention of thieves. After a while, the loss of equipment was noticed by the Treasury, which sold off the remaining items without delay. In two days, everything was dismantled.
A few months later, at the end of March 1945, the city of Győr was liberated, and the first Jewish forced labourers and some of the Auschwitz deportees returned in April. Former Sanatorium owner , Dr. József Csillag, also survived the concentration camp and returned to his hometown. He found refuge in Győrsziget (!).
Three of the older children in his family survived the Holocaust, his youngest son and his wife were however killed in Auschwitz.
Dr. József Csillag’s weakened body was unable to overcome the lung disease he developed in the concentration camp, and he died a year after deportation on 11 June 1945, aged 58.
The former Csillag Sanatorium is now an apartment building.
A marble plaque is the only reminder of the legendary institute.
The exlusive source of this report: a communication by Vargáné, Blága Borbála. See sources she used here. The study was published by Győri Szalon in the online cultural Magazine dr. Kovács Pál Könyvtár és Közösségi Tér .
English translation by www.jewishgyor.org.
Our website (www.jewishgyor.org) invites readers to write to us if they know any descendants of Dr. József Csillag who are probably living in Budapest today (email, phone number requested), because we would like to contact them.