György (George) Pick

György (George) Pick

Born: March 28, 1934

Budapest, Hungary

György was the only child of middle class Jewish parents living in the Hungarian capital of Budapest. His father, Istvan, was an engineer responsible for producing hydraulic grape presses for wineries. His mother, Margit, worked as a legal secretary. 

1933–39: In 1938 and 1939, Hungary’s authoritarian government passed the first in a series of major anti-Jewish laws. The legislation severely restricted the participation of Jews in the economy and defined them in racial terms, much like the Nuremberg Race Laws in Nazi Germany. As a result, György’s father lost his job. His father soon set up a tool and machine parts business, which was registered in the name of a non-Jew.

1940–44: In 1940, Hungary became an ally of Nazi Germany. Because he was Jewish, György’s father was conscripted into the Hungarian forced-labor battalions. He was sent to the newly annexed territory of Subcarpathian Rus (part of interwar Czechoslovakia and present-day Ukraine), where he was forced to build roads for the military. He was released after three months, but then conscripted again in 1943 and 1944. György  attended school until March 1944, when German troops occupied Hungary. In June, the Picks along with other Jews in Budapest had to move into designated apartment buildings marked with a yellow star. These yellow star houses were a special form of ghettoization. In November 1944, just weeks after the Arrow Cross Party took power in a German-backed coup, György  and his family went into hiding. A month later, they were discovered. György  was placed in a home with 500 other children, but he soon escaped. Those who remained were killed. Two weeks after this incident, the Picks were sent to the Budapest ghetto. 

In January 1945, the Picks were liberated from the city's ghetto by Soviet troops. After the war, György  learned that 130 of his relatives had been killed at the Auschwitz-Birkenau killing center. In 1956, he participated in the Hungarian Revolution against the Soviet-backed Communist government. Once the Soviets crushed the revolution, he fled the country and came to the United States as a political refugee. 

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