In an inconspicuous brick building in a side street near Keleti train station lies the Rendőrmúzeum Budapest. A Hungarian flag and a model of a policeman in a guard box de-corate the entrance.

In 1908, the State Museum was opened in Budapest. Until the late 1990s it was used exclusively for the training of police students, who could familiarise themselves with the procedure in criminal cases. For example, models allowed them to tell suicides from mur-ders. Today, the museum is open to the public and portrays the main heroes, animal com-panions, crooks and murderers of the country.

The entrance to the exhibition is simple. On the left is the historical collection of the muse-um. During the Second World War, many pieces from before 1945 were almost completely destroyed. The museum is especially proud of the magnificent uniforms of the royal gen-darmerie. From the communist period there are uniforms with the red star or orders written by generals in Cyrillic script.

Weapons for military parades, rank insignia, detective passports, police ID cards, certifica-tes, bomb suits and many other peculiarities from Hungarian police history are also presented.

On the right side of the entrance can be seen photos under the motto "Past and present". This compares black-and-white photos from the archive with colour photos from 2008, which were taken again in the same place. You can see, for example, an alcohol test from the 1950s or a traffic control system from 1933 – at that time there was still left-hand traffic in Budapest, explains museum staff member Gábor Androvicz.

The photos also celebrate technical achievements, including the first fingerprint scanner, which a few years earlier consisted of ink and a sheet of paper.


Robbers and serial killers

The highlight of the museum, however, is the criminalistic hall. This seems to be a little ten-tatively furnished but it holds all the more exciting stories. Here are detailed photographs of crime scenes, for example the case of Attila A., who committed his first of a total of 30 bank and postal robberies in 1993.

He had considerable debts accumulated by his gambling addiction and quickly realised how bad the security systems in Hungarian banks were. Before each hold-up, he drank a glass of whisky, earning him the name "Whisky Robber".

Masked and armed, he exploited the security gaps of the banks over six years and cap-tured the equivalent of half a million euros. He was arrested in 1996. But A. escaped from prison and robbed three other banks before he was finally sentenced to 17 years in prison in 1999.

In 2012 he was released because of good behaviour. The police museum shows his deeds on several panels. He caused an improvement in security in banks, and he went on to help the police in their investigation of robberies.

Also exhibited is the criminal history of László F. and Tünde N., commonly known as the Hungarian version of Bonnie and Clyde. The young couple, just 16 and 26 years old, got away with 27 million forints in the city of Miskolc in the 1990s.

For half a decade they involved police in a film-worthy cat-and-mouse game, stealing cars, setting fire to them and finally seriously injuring a victim. While László F. took his own life, Tünde N. was imprisoned in 2000 and is now released.

"Another exciting case were several female corpses that were discovered for months in Hungarian forests. All the women were killed by stab wounds," says Androvicz, pointing to the photos of the file. "At first they were looking for the serial killer at high pressure. In the end, an aggressive stag turned out to be the killer."


Tracing

Visitors can look at forensic techniques such as plaster casts of shoe soles, bone reconstructions or samples of skin tissue. Police motorcycles and a mechanical chair on which mugshot photos were shot are on show. A true peculiarity of the exhibition is the stuf-fed police dog Kántor, who solved more than 500 cases in the 1950s and 1960s as a tra-cker. Later his story was filmed.

One corner deals with forged forints, some displaying fine miniature work and some provi-ded with additional zeroes. The museum has collected several copies over the years.

Another photo exhibition on the history of Hungarian policewomen is being held until the end of October. This began with the end of the Second World War, when masses of men were missing. Currently, 53,000 people work for the Hungarian Police, of which a third are women.


Conclusion

The police museum falls into the category "small but nice". The rooms look temporary and could well tolerate a few interactive elements. In terms of content, the museum convinces on the whole. The historical exhibition reflects Hungarian police history over a whole centu-ry during the various systems of government.

Crime fans will get their money's worth in the criminalistic hall. You can make your own dis-coveries here through the models. Visitors also learn a lot of interesting facts about every-day life, such as which tricks pickpockets use or what a real police pass looks like. While not all parts of the exhibition have been translated into English, visitors can register for free guided tours in English, which is especially recommended for crime and forensic devices.

Rendőrmúzeum
District VIII, Mosonyi utca 5
Open: Tuesday to Saturday 9am to 5pm
Admission free
See www.rendormuzeum.com


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