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Portrait of a US soldier by Gyorgy Byfield, liberated concentration camp inmate

Object | Accession Number: 2016.114.2

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    Portrait of a US soldier by Gyorgy Byfield, liberated concentration camp inmate


    Brief Narrative
    Framed portrait painting of Staff Sergeant Louis Ranciato, United States Army, a liberator of Dachau concentration camp. It was painted by George Byfield [Gyorgy Beifeld] in the camp after its liberation by the 7th Army on April 19, 1945. Byfield, a camp inmate, had been deported from Budapest, Hungary, following the German occupation in March 1944.
    Artwork Title
    Portrait of Louis Ranciato
    creation:  after 1945 April 19-before 1945 December
    creation: Dachau (Concentration camp) after liberation; Dachau (Germany)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Rosalie Heffernan and Anthony Ranciato
    right side
    Artist: George Byfield
    Gyorgy Beifeld (born Gyorgy Beamter, later George Byfield, 1902-1982) was born in Budapest, Hungary, on April 4, 1902 to Wilhelm and Hermine Hacker Beamter. His father was killed in 1917 while serving in the army during World War I. Gyorgy attended university and was trained as a lawyer, but earned his living as a stockbroker in Budapest. He was also an accomplished artist and was fluent in Hungarian, English, French, and German.

    On April 1, 1942, Gyorgy was conscripted into the Hungarian Labor Service (Munkaszolgalat) and sent to a camp in Pomac, Hungary. Gyorgy began painting immediately after his induction, creating watercolors of the base camp in Hungary where the company was initially stationed. On April 20, 1942, Gyorgy's company departed by train for the Russian front in Orel. Their duties included building fortifications, transporting ammunition, constructing bridges and roads, laying mines, burying the dead, and carrying away the wounded. During this time, he made a visual record of his experiences, creating over 400 drawings and watercolors. He was wounded on August 28, 1943 at Prilutskiy. At the end of 1943, Gyorgy was sent home to Budapest.

    On May 12, 1944, Gyorgy was arrested and held in a camp in Velence near Budapest for six months. He was assigned prisoner number 27990. On December 25, he was deported to Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany and worked as a draughtsman. In January 1945, he was transferred to Offenburg. In April, he was sent on a death march to Dachau concentration camp. The camp was liberated by the United States 7th Army on April 29, 1945.

    Gyorgy returned to Budapest then immigrated to Australia in 1948. Following his move to Australia, he changed his name to George Byfield and opened a tobacconist shop with his wife. He later ran a successful interior design studio.

    Physical Details

    Physical Description
    Framed portrait of man from waist up, in uniform jacket and cap. Gold colored wood frame.
    overall: Height: 27.750 inches (70.485 cm) | Width: 19.875 inches (50.483 cm) | Depth: 2.000 inches (5.08 cm)
    overall : canvas, paint, wood
    Signed, dated 1945

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    No restrictions on access
    Conditions on Use
    No restrictions on use

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    The portrait was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2016 by Rosalie Heffernan and Anthony Ranciato, the children of Louis Ranciato.
    Funding Note
    The cataloging of this artifact has been supported by a grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
    Record last modified:
    2022-07-28 18:12:49
    This page:

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