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

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Small leather case used by Malvina Kornhauser from November 1944 until January 1945 while she was staying in a Swedish protected building and then in the Budapest ghetto in German occupied Hungary. The suitcase was purchased by her son-in-law Istvan Pick during the 1930s for use in his job as a traveling sales engineer for grape presses for the Rokk Istvan Machine factory. Before November, Malvina lived with her daughter Margit Pick, her husband Istvan, and son Gyorgy. 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.

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  • Title: Small leather suitcase used by a Hungarian Jewish family while living in hiding
  • Provenance: The suitcase was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2003 by George Pick, the son of Istvan and Margaret Pick and the grandson of Malvina Kornhauser.
  • Subject Keywords: Forced labor--Hungary--Biography. Hidden children (Holocaust)--Hungary--Budapest--Biography. Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)--Hungary--Budapest--Personal narratives, Jewish. Jewish children in the Holocaust--Hungary--Budapest--Biography. Jews--Persecution--Hungary--Biography. World War, 1939-1945--Conscript labor--Hungary--Personal narratives. World War, 1939-1945--Personal narratives, Hungarian.
  • Type: Containers
  • Rights: Permanent Collection
  • External Link: See the full record at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
  • Medium: a. Small, rectangular, textured brown leather suitcase with offwhite edge stitching. The lid overlaps the base to which it is attached by an exterior leather hinge strap stitched horizontally along the back joint, with 2 leather stays riveted to the interior lid and base. There are 2 silver colored metal hasps on the lid front with corresponding lock plates on the base. Near the base center are 2 riveted leather tabs with loops; the left is torn and the handle is detached, see (b.) There are 4 metal foot studs attached to the each corner of the base underside and 4 on the the rear back side. The interior is lined with stiffened, light brown, woven cloth covered panels and there is a large, gathered, light brown cloth pocket attached across the lid interior. The suitcase is very worn, with scratches, red paint marks, and discoloration. b. Well used, brown leather suitcase handle, slightly curved, with silver colored, rectangular rings inserted through each looped end. It is detached from suitcase (.a.)