Skip to main content

Small suitcase used by a Hungarian Jewish family while living in hiding in Budapest

Record Type:
Object
Date:
1944 March-1945 January  (use)
Accession Number:
1999.282.2
Geography:
use : in hiding; Budapest (Hungary)
Brief Narrative:
Small brown suitcase used by ten year old Gyorgy Pick and his parents Margit and Istvan to carry family photos and food while they were living in hiding in Budapest, Hungary, from November 1944-1 January 1945. Hungary was an ally of Nazi Germany and adopted discriminatory anti-Jewish laws similar to those in Germany. Istvan was conscripted into Hungarian labor battalions in 1940, 1943, and 1944. In March 1944, Germany invaded Hungary. That June, Gyorgy, his mother, and maternal grandmother Malvina were forced to move to a designated Jews only yellow star building. In November, Istvan escaped his battalion and went into hiding in Budapest at a textile factory on Csango Street where nearly 200 other Jews were also hiding. On November 22, Istvan sent for Margit and Gyorgy. In December, the Jewish owner, Imre Kormos, of this factory and three others where people were hiding, was betrayed to the Gestapo. The factory was raided December 2, but the police accepted bribes to not make arrests. On December 17, the Pick family went to the central ghetto in order to avoid being caught. On January 18, 1945, they were liberated by the Soviet Army, and returned to their own apartment. They were reunited with Malvina, who had hidden in the international ghetto. Over 160 members of Gyorgy's extended family perished in the Holocaust.
Provenance:
The suitcase was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1999 by George Pick.
Classification:
Containers
Category:
Luggage
Object Type:
Suitcases (aat)
Dimensions:
overall : 4.250 x 11.875 x 8.375 in. (10.795 x 30.163 x 21.273 cm.)
Inscription:
interior, lid, handwritten, pencil and red ink : Huj[o?]
Materials:
overall : leather, wood, fiberboard, metal, paper, thread, paint, adhesive
Conditions on Access:
No restrictions on access
Conditions on Use:
No restrictions on use
Contributor:
Subject : George Pick
Original owner : Malvina Kornhauser
Biography:
Gyorgy (George) Pick was born on March 28, 1934, to Itvan and Margit Kornhauser Pick in Budapest, Hungary. His father worked as an engineer and his mother as a legal secretary. Hungary was greatly influenced by Germany and in 1940 joined the Axis alliance. The Hungarian fascist regime adopted discriminatory anti-Jewish laws similar to those in Germany. Itvan lost his job in May 1939 because he was Jewish. In September 1940, he was conscripted in the Hungarian labor service and sent to a small town in Ruthenia for three months where he worked building roads. In summer 1943, he was transferred to Chu and continued doing road construction. Gyorgy and his mother remained in their home in Budapest and Gyorgy attended the Jewish Boys' Orphanage School.

In March 1944, Germany invaded Hungary. In June, Gyorgy and his mother were forced to move to a specially designated "yellow star" house for Jews. In April, Jews could no longer attend school. In April, his father’s labor battalion was sent to western Hungary to build anti-tank fortifications. During May and June, Budapest was a frequent target of allied bombing raids. On July 2, the city was heavily hot and Gyorgy remembers having to step over dead bodies. In September, Istvan's battalion moved to Budapest. On October 25, his commander warned the unit that they would be sent to Germany the following day. The men were given a 24-hour furlough and Istvan went into hiding with a friend. He first hid in the basement of his grandparents' home, which had been destroyed in a bombing raid. However, after his friend was caught in dragnet, Istvan had to find a new shelter. He sought the help of a former Hungarian business associate, Gyorgy Gyekis, who sent him to a textile factory on Csango Street. The factory was ostensibly manufacturing uniforms for the Hungarian army, but in actuality, had ceased production. Approximately 170 Jews were hiding there, including close to 100 women and children. The factory was established by Imre Kormos (Kohn), a Hungarian Jew living on false papers, who had experience in the textile industry. Kormos operated four factories where 1100 Jews were hidden. On November 22, one month after coming to the factory, Istvan sent an urgent message to Margit and Gyorgy telling them to join him and the family was reunited in the factory. Kormos, who had been hiding with Hungarian friends, was betrayed to the Gestapo. The informer also disclosed the locations of three of Kormos' four factories. On December 2, five armed members of the State Security Police raided the Csango Street factory where the Picks were hiding. The Jews hiding there were able to evade arrest by bribing the police. Some people in the other two buildings were killed. Kormos was tortured for two days, but he did not disclose the location of his fourth factory, thus giving those hidden there a chance to escape. Kormos was sentenced to death, but escaped and survived the war. A few days after the December 2 raid, Gyorgy was transferred with the rest of the children in his factory to a building under the protection of the International Red Cross. Because there was no food there, Gyorgy left and rejoined his parents in the textile factory. Soon after his escape, there was an Arrow Cross raid on the Red Cross safe house, during which the children were rounded-up and shot on the banks of the Danube. Gyorgy and his parents remained at the Csango Street factory until December 17, when two policemen brought them to the new central ghetto. Istvan was on the ghetto police force. There were severe food shortages as the Russians laid siege to the city. There was no gas, water, or electricity and there were dead bodies in the center square.

The city was liberated by the Soviets on January 18, 1945. 161 members of Istvan's and Margit's extended families perished in the Holocaust. The war in Europe ended on May 7, 1945. Gyorgy and his family remained in Budapest until the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, when they immigrated to the United States. Gyorgy married three times. He is now retired from a career as a mechanical engineer with the US Navy. George is committed to educating people about the Holocaust and has shared his own experiences with teaches and other groups.

Credit Line:
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of George Pick
Physical Description:
Small rectangular brown leather covered fiberboard suitcase with two flap hinges. Brown leather trim, with white thread stitching, is riveted around the edges and the corners have triangular, leather reinforcements. The lid and base edges have wooden frames with a brown painted metal band attached on the exterior of the lid frame. The bottom of the band is unpainted and bent over flat to create a narrow, decorative, silver colored band visible around the suitcase exterior when closed. A metal handle with red paint remnants is riveted to metal plates on the front of the base; a lock plate with a keyhole and hasp slot is riveted in the base center. The corresponding hasp is riveted to the front center of the lid. The interior is covered by light brown paper with light red stripes. There are handwritten letters on the lid interior. All hardware is silver colored metal. The suitcase is well used and scratched.
 
Record last modified: 2015-01-23 21:44:12