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Brown leather work boots worn by a Hungarian Jewish man for forced labor and in hiding

Object | Accession Number: 2003.442.3 a-b

Leather work boots bought by Istvan Pick in Budapest, Hungary, in spring 1943 when he received a summons to report for forced labor. He wore them in two forced labor battalions, and when he went into hiding in Budapest. Istvan, his wife Margit, and their ten year old son Gyorgy lived in hiding in Budapest from November 1944-January 1945. Hungary was an ally of Nazi Germany and adopted similar anti-Jewish laws in the 1930s. Istvan, an engineer, lost his job in May 1939 because he was Jewish. He was conscripted into Hungarian labor battalions in 1940, 1943, and 1944. After German setbacks in the war against the Soviet Union in early 1943, Hungary sought a separate peace. In March 1944, Germany invaded Hungary. The next month, Hungarian authorities began round-ups of Hungarian Jews for deportation to concentration camps. That June, Gyorgy, his mother, and Malvina were forced to move to a designated Jews only yellow star building. Malvina's sister Gizella already lived in a designated building and they moved in with her. In November, Istvan escaped his labor 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, he sent for Margit and Gyorgy. They packed a small suitcase and left without telling Malvina. The building was raided the next day, and Malvina, Gizella, and the other residents were taken to transit camps in the brickyards along the river. The building superintendent knew that the women had a brother, Bela, living in one of the safe houses in the international ghetto protected by the efforts of the Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg. Bela was able to get protective cards for Malvina and the others and they moved into the safe house. In December, the Jewish owner of the factory where Gyorgy and his family 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 to avoid capture. Budapest was under heavy bombardment and there was no electricity, gas, or water. Food was scarce because of the Soviet blockade. The Picks lived in the crowded basement with nearly 200 others. On January 18, 1945, Pest, where they lived was liberated by the Soviet Army; Buda was liberated on February 13. The family returned to their own apartment. They were reunited with Malvina, who returned from the international ghetto. Over 160 members of Gyorgy's extended family perished in the Holocaust. The family remained in Budapest. In 1956, Gyorgy became involved in the Hungarian Uprising against the Soviet controlled government and had to flee to Austria. He wore the boots during this flight from Hungary and his immigration to the United States in November-December 1956.

received:  approximately 1943 March
use:  1943 March-1956
emigration:  1956 December
use: forced labor; Cluj (Romania)
use: in hiding; Budapest (Hungary)
Dress Accessories
Object Type
Boots (lcsh)
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of George Pick
Record last modified: 2020-06-30 09:19:38
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