Attila Petschauer

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Attila Petschauer
Petschauer Attila.jpg
Personal information
National team Hungary
Born14 December 1904
Budapest, Austria-Hungary
DiedJanuary 30, 1943(1943-01-30) (aged 38)
Davidovka, Ukraine

Attila Petschauer (December 14, 1904 – January 30, 1943) was a Hungarian Olympic champion sabre 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]

Some claimed that Petschauer was tortured and murdered under orders of a Hungarian officer, a fellow former Hungarian Olympian named Kálmán Cseh, 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]

Recent research by historians Csaba B. Stenge and Krisztián Ungváry show that according to the records of the Hungarian Royal Army, Petschauer died of typhus in a Soviet POW camp.[19]

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 relative, Dr. Richard Markowitz.[16][20] It is known across the United States as one of the top sabre events.[21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Attila Petschauer Olympic Results". Archived from the original on April 17, 2020. Retrieved April 27, 2010.
  2. ^ Paul Taylor (2004). Jews and the Olympic Games: The Clash Between Sport and Politics - With a ... ISBN 9781903900888. Retrieved January 23, 2013.
  3. ^ The International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame - Joseph M. Siegman
  4. ^ Day by Day in Jewish Sports History - Bob Wechsler
  5. ^ Encyclopedia of Jews in Sports - Bernard Postal, Jesse Silver, Roy Silver
  6. ^ a b c d Jews in the Gym: Judaism, Sports, and Athletics
  7. ^ a b Masquerade: Dancing Around Death in Nazi-occupied Hungary - Tivadar Soros
  8. ^ Jews and the Olympic Games: the clash between sport and politics: with a ... - Paul Taylor
  9. ^ By the Sword: A History of Gladiators, Musketeers, Samurai, Swashbucklers ... - Richard Cohen
  10. ^ a b c "Petschauer, Attila". Jews In Sports. Retrieved 11 March 2016.
  11. ^ Not Just a Game - Doug Zipes
  12. ^ a b c In the Darkroom - Susan Faludi
  13. ^ "Olympians Who Were Killed or Missing in Action or Died as a Result of War". Sports Reference. Archived from the original on 17 April 2020. Retrieved 24 July 2018.
  14. ^ a b "Attila Petschauer". Retrieved April 20, 2010.
  15. ^ Lipman, Steve (August 8, 2008). "In Attila's Memory". New York Jewish Week. Retrieved April 17, 2009.
  16. ^ a b Who Betrayed the Jews?: The Realities of Nazi Persecution in the Holocaust - Agnes Grunwald-Spier
  17. ^ Jewish Jocks: An Unorthodox Hall of Fame
  18. ^ London, Europe and the Olympic Games: European Perspectives
  19. ^ and
  20. ^ "In Attila's Memory - Jewish Telegraphic Agency". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. 8 August 2008. Retrieved 6 July 2022.
  21. ^ "". Archived from the original on 2006-08-25. Retrieved April 20, 2010.

External links[edit]