Attila Petschauer

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Attila Petschauer
Petschauer Attila.jpg
Personal information
National team  Hungary
Born 14 December 1904
Budapest, Austria-Hungary
Died January 30, 1943(1943-01-30) (aged 38)
Davidovka, Ukraine
Sport fencing
Event(s) sabre

Attila Petschauer (December 14, 1904 – January 30, 1943) was a Hungarian Olympic champion fencer of Jewish heritage.[2]

Fencing career[edit]

Petschauer was born in Budapest, and was Jewish.[3][4][5]

He fenced first at a salle in Budapest opened in 1885 by Jewish maestro Károly Fodor (Mózes Freyberger) from the age of 8 to the age of 20, and then trained at Nemzeti Vivó Club (NVC) which was established by the Zionist lawyer Marcell Hajdu.[6] He won four Hungarian National Youth Championships.[6]

He was a member of the Hungarian fencing team in the 1928 and 1932 Olympics. Petschauer was regarded throughout the late 1920s and early 1930s as one of the world's top fencers.[7][8] Between 1925 and 1931, at the saber world championships he was three times a silver medalist and three times a bronze medalist.[9]

Olympic career[edit]

In Amsterdam in 1928 at the age of 23 he was part of the gold medal-winning Hungarian team in sabre, winning all 20 of his competition matches. In the individual sabre competition, Petschauer won the silver medal.[10][6]

In the 1932 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, Petschauer was again part of the champion Hungarian sabre team.[6] The Hungarians won the gold medal in team sabre, and Petschauer finished 5th in individual sabre.[10]


Petschauer was arrested by the Nazis in 1943 and sent to a forced labor camp in Davidovka, Ukraine.[11][7][12][13]

Petschauer was tortured and murdered under orders of a Hungarian officer, a fellow former Hungarian Olympian named Kalman Czéh, during his service in a Hungarian-Jewish Forced Labor Battalion.[14][12] A fellow inmate, Olympic champion wrestler Károly Kárpáti, recalled: “The guards shouted: ‘You, Olympic fencing medal winner . . . let’s see how you can climb trees.’ It was midwinter and bitter cold, but they ordered him to undress, then climb a tree. The amused guards ordered him to crow like a rooster, and sprayed him with water. Frozen from the water, he died shortly after.”[15][12][16][17]

A fictionalized account of his life and death were dramatised in the 1999 film Sunshine, starring Ralph Fiennes.[10][18]

Hall of Fame[edit]

He was inducted into the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 1985.[14]

Memorial event[edit]

The Attila Petschauer Event was begun in 1995 as a memorial to Petschauer by his descendant, Dr. Richard Markowitz.[16] It is known across the United States as one of the top sabre events.[19]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]