Ivan Vamos was born in March 1938 in Budapest, Hungary, nearly the same day that German troops marched into neighboring Austria.
After Ivan’s father was killed and his grandfather was badly beaten, his mother, who was a professional photographer, arranged false papers for Ivan and herself and took him into hiding in the Hungarian countryside. A year later, she and Ivan walked back to Budapest and found refuge in a crowded apartment—a “protected house” like those established by Raoul Wallenberg. When German forces occupied Hungary, Ivan and his mother escaped once again—this time to a bombed-out apartment house in Budapest, where they hid in smoldering ruins until liberation in 1945.
After emigrating to the United States in 1947, Ivan led a successful career in public service, including serving as Deputy Commissioner for Planning and Development at the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation.
In this Stories Survive program, Ivan shares his remarkable story of surviving the Holocaust in Hungary and the lessons he takes from this dark chapter of his childhood.
Watch the program below.
Stories Survive is made possible by the Goldie and David Blanksteen Foundation.
This program’s original recording transcript is below. This transcription was created automatically during a live program so may contain inaccurate transcriptions of some words.
Public Programs: Hello everyone I am Gia Pace hi i'm a public programs coordinator here at the Museum of Jewish heritage, a living memorial to the Holocaust, it is a pleasure to welcome.
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Public Programs: The is a pleasure to welcome you to today's story survive program with Ivan Thomas.
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Public Programs: Ivan is a Holocaust survivor born in Budapest Hungary, whose story of loss survival and hope offers powerful lessons for us today.
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Public Programs: Ivan is also retired public servant having served for many years as deputy commissioner for planning and development at the New York state office of parks, recreation and historic preservation.
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Public Programs: please feel free to share questions for Ivan in the zoom Q amp a box during his presentation and we'll get to as many questions as we can, towards the end of the hour, without further ado welcome Ivan and thank you for being here feel free to get started.
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Ivan Vamos: Well, thank you very much, I appreciate.
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Ivan Vamos: All of you that are willing to come and listen to me on such a beautiful day.
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Ivan Vamos: I hope the program will be useful to you, but if there are questions i'm happy to resolve them either during the meeting or afterwards, or even afterwards by email.
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Ivan Vamos: I usually start my presentation to school kids by saying that my mother had a few stories when I was born, which of course I don't remember but.
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Ivan Vamos: The stories were at birth, the doctor was a crying and old Jewish doctor and my mother being worried asked of course what's wrong and he said.
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Ivan Vamos: Who can bring a child into this world well she brought a child in any way reason was it was in 1938 March, when the Germans were marching into Austria taking over with all the opposition and the.
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Ivan Vamos: Drastic.
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Ivan Vamos: laws that are Germany had would apply to Austria, and that was pretty apparent that was going going to be happening Hungary was still a little bit less.
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Ivan Vamos: very violent In this sense, but they had been for a long time.
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Ivan Vamos: Having.
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Ivan Vamos: limits to Jews gypsies other targeted people there was a local numerous close yes.
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Ivan Vamos: And that deals with my second story from my mother, which was right after my birthday my mother was showing me off the family and somebody came into the room should then see who everybody left.
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Ivan Vamos: And to see that person, it was her brother when she called boobie because he was young and small for quite a while and.
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Ivan Vamos: booby later on to be called Bob instead.
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Ivan Vamos: We had got a visa, and it was a marvelous thing you he could get out and go somewhere was very difficult to get he was going to the United States.
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Ivan Vamos: This was a Kirk of good luck coming back from end of World War one, but I won't go into this story.
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Ivan Vamos: But he was unique in that sense, and everybody was congratulating him, of course, they were happy to have it another grandchild or another.
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Ivan Vamos: cousin or whatever.
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Ivan Vamos: me.
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Ivan Vamos: My mother apparently was also crying at the same time, to get out.
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Ivan Vamos: pretty soon thereafter.
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Ivan Vamos: This is a picture from her passport in 1939 it's a 1939 passports which lists me.
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Ivan Vamos: As a infant to be carried with her, but that never really happened.
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Ivan Vamos: US leaving at that time, that is, but uncle Bob did leave.
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Ivan Vamos: And he then.
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Ivan Vamos: had taken quite a bit of photo equipment from the family, my mother's family Leon family for 50 year old photo store.
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Ivan Vamos: And reestablished the that photo store in brooklyn New York.
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Ivan Vamos: My mother got a much smaller photo store in Budapest and.
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Ivan Vamos: that's where a lot of the negatives and real other material went so she was a photographer she was a very good photographer and she did that part time.
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Ivan Vamos: While.
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Ivan Vamos: She also was at home with me and.
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Ivan Vamos: My father was part of the vamos family, which had a very.
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Ivan Vamos: Very well established woodworking factory mainly made moldings picture frames similar specialized wouldn't equipment wouldn't.
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Ivan Vamos: materials that were used for other decorations and this this was very successful as a business.
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Ivan Vamos: My father his brother and my grandfather or well established and my grandfather had.
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Ivan Vamos: assumed that Hungary would remain fairly safe, he was a World War one veteran very proud of it.
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Ivan Vamos: And the.
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Ivan Vamos: army.
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Ivan Vamos: I believe, Captain in or equivalent to a captain in the Austrian Hungarian army and.
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Ivan Vamos: Very.
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Ivan Vamos: Very.
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Ivan Vamos: critical of that Corporal that was running Germany, who was the Corporal Hitler that's as high as he got and my grandfather just couldn't imagine people following a Corporal.
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Ivan Vamos: When they had very fine generals and.
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Ivan Vamos: Other learned people but.
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Ivan Vamos: My grandfather was wrong.
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Ivan Vamos: He also dependent on Hungary being unique and being protective of their Jewish people in spite of us being limited by numerous closes.
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Ivan Vamos: So I would have been if if things would have gone on, I would have been limited in my education, I would have been limited in the occupations, I could pursue.
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Ivan Vamos: All sorts of things that I could own and manage, but I would have been saved in Hungary, if things stay this way they were in 1938 through 1940.
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Ivan Vamos: Leon family tried very hard to get out and they managed to get one in out after another in a.
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Ivan Vamos: way, which could take another long story to tell, but we were saying we were part of Amish family and.
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Ivan Vamos: From my perspective, as a little kid things we're doing okay.
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Ivan Vamos: I.
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Ivan Vamos: Had.
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Ivan Vamos: Good food, we were relatively safe over time things got limit more limiting as far as where we could go the theaters the pools.
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Ivan Vamos: began to be closed, but we had a summer place that we could go to small place called suddenly get and we could go there, we could have some swimming hiking all sorts of things now.
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Ivan Vamos: nia is going to show some.
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Ivan Vamos: pictures that I drew I put my stories together in a strange way.
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Ivan Vamos: And this will begin this.
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Ivan Vamos: picture of the four kids and my dog.
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Ivan Vamos: In zilla get I was now playing only with these other three kids because.
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Ivan Vamos: I.
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Ivan Vamos: wasn't you the kids in the neighborhood which were in the top picture wouldn't play with me, though they were very happy beforehand to come in and do all sorts of ministers mischief in the factory jump into the snow so that's files, for example, and my grandfather would yell at us.
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Ivan Vamos: Later on, after I drew all these pictures, I wrote the story to go with it then developed and notes and i'm continually an ending to it and.
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Ivan Vamos: A.
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Ivan Vamos: Relative of ours uncle bob's wife by second marriage which happened in their 80s.
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Ivan Vamos: One more story that I won't go into phone pictures that she had.
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Ivan Vamos: And here are the four four kids that I hung around with I was the one with the suspenders in the picture.
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Ivan Vamos: But if you scroll down on a picture.
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Ivan Vamos: You will see that we left.
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Ivan Vamos: No, why did we leave.
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Ivan Vamos: well.
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Ivan Vamos: It could be number of things I was just following what my mother told me to do but.
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Ivan Vamos: By that time.
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Ivan Vamos: My father.
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Ivan Vamos: Who was a.
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Ivan Vamos: pictured here with me.
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Ivan Vamos: And it was probably the last time I had seen him.
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Ivan Vamos: had been called into what in Hungary was called a mucosal goblet its work service work servants.
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Ivan Vamos: In some books, they call them conscripted slaves, but they were not really slaves, because some of their overseers basically wanted to kill them, either through work or just outright kill them at various points, so the military was using them and.
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Ivan Vamos: In some senses, they were.
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Ivan Vamos: Being.
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Ivan Vamos: killed, perhaps more slowly.
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Ivan Vamos: This was bad news, they also got to see some earthquake scenes which they may have been able to get information back home and I mentioned mother, my father my mother was a photographer and she had a photo store in Budapest well the foot photo store probably ran.
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Ivan Vamos: primarily for Jewish customers that were trying to get false papers of various sorts, you could duplicate official documents, then.
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Ivan Vamos: Use them or you could get passport photos whatever is very likely that she talked about this to her customers at that in that store.
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Ivan Vamos: So information came in from the.
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Ivan Vamos: People that were.
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Ivan Vamos: trying to get specialized papers false papers, perhaps, and at the same time information came in from.
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Ivan Vamos: The milk thistle God lot who had.
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Ivan Vamos: Ways in Russia and and Yugoslavia.
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Ivan Vamos: Seeing.
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Ivan Vamos: What atrocities are being committed so she was worried by that time, but there were additional direct things that were happening, one day, my grandfather was called in by the military, he got dressed into his full uniform all his medals all his awards.
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Ivan Vamos: with him a sword he had a sword with him and reported to the military, along with a number of colleagues he just disappeared disappeared for weeks, maybe, maybe a month, maybe more I don't know but I knew it was a long time.
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Ivan Vamos: Then he got dumped in front of the House really have that.
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Ivan Vamos: And we've got taken in and surprisingly he revived, but I think, from the perspective of the Hungarian military he would probably die at home his main complaint that that point was he was being beaten by a book private the lowest of the low to be beating a captain.
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Ivan Vamos: How could they they had.
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Ivan Vamos: Basically, said that these were this loyal people all these Jews, they were handing information back to the allies, that they were.
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Ivan Vamos: going to.
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Ivan Vamos: jeopardize the war effort, whatever and they beat him and they starve them.
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Ivan Vamos: But he got back home.
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Ivan Vamos: So that was one piece of information now probably right after that maybe even before.
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Ivan Vamos: There was information coming in from the military again.
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Ivan Vamos: I went with my mother, along with other mothers and.
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Ivan Vamos: mothers of young children and mothers of young conscripts, and this was that his entire unit and the military rather gruffly with us kids were separate looking at equipment being watched by an old lady.
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Ivan Vamos: Rather gruffly told them that everybody got killed big accident couple of everybody's done go home stops the building apparently that was about what they said and.
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Ivan Vamos: The mothers went home, of course, it quite destroyed and crying and all sorts of scenes outside of the barracks where they were.
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Ivan Vamos: harshly ushered out and.
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Ivan Vamos: There were saying to each other mag yield kotok they had killed them.
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Ivan Vamos: Military said it was an accident that mothers said they were murdered, later on, from all the 50,000 kind of script that's when in about 10% 5000 survived so they were being killed by the Hungarian guards by the German guards.
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Ivan Vamos: Perhaps by military action.
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Ivan Vamos: Or, probably by military action as well and accidents so.
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Ivan Vamos: Who knows, but my mother.
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Ivan Vamos: Looked at all these things thought about them and then 1943 probably in the spring of 1943 late spring.
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Ivan Vamos: Leo can I have the last picture from that first page.
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Ivan Vamos: Okay sorry about that lot bottom of the page no like before first page before that we're going to leave hungry there we are we're leaving not hungry, but we're leaving Budapest and we went walk the long way, I think we took some.
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Ivan Vamos: trolley cars and things and walked into the countryside my mother probably knew where to go, maybe not but in while we were walking I was being rehearsed.
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Ivan Vamos: I was now ish man I wasn't Yvonne I was issued, one I think the second name was something like casals which, which is a cutter but I don't know for that for sure, but this one, I remember very well, it sounds a little bit like Yvonne if we make a mistake.
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Ivan Vamos: So we walked wound up in a very small village, if you can scroll down a little bit of the nia.
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Ivan Vamos: There we go there, we are and we're in a small village, and here we are it's a small village at the bottom of a hill with the forest nearby planes flying overhead fairly routinely.
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Ivan Vamos: Not necessarily.
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Ivan Vamos: dropping bombs on us, but occasionally coming down or dropping bombs, if they were trying to lighten their load if.
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Ivan Vamos: They were being.
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Ivan Vamos: attacked by fighters and.
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Ivan Vamos: damaged, to the point that they're trying to get gain elevation so.
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Ivan Vamos: This was a relatively safe place.
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Ivan Vamos: And we were in a House of an old lady.
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Ivan Vamos: Quite obese, as you can see, and she had a almost unpronounceable name.
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Ivan Vamos: All consonants so she must have been either a Slovak or crow at.
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Ivan Vamos: But well accepted by the village and we've are in the same House in a room but sharing the food and my mother helps supply the food and this old lady would be very happily going out in the countryside, with me.
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Ivan Vamos: Looking for mushrooms looking for berries.
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Ivan Vamos: Picking scrap metal when we had scrap Shell casings coming back from the planes.
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Ivan Vamos: bringing back.
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Ivan Vamos: Wood from the forest.
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Ivan Vamos: For the fireplace so I had a job i'd help.
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Ivan Vamos: She had helped these days occasionally going for a walk with.
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Ivan Vamos: One of my one of our very.
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Ivan Vamos: diligent young.
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Ivan Vamos: grandchildren, I can see the benefit of having a five or six year old.
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Ivan Vamos: And with their better eyes looking for mushrooms or looking for things in the woods one strength you're pretty good at finding things.
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Ivan Vamos: Things what went well, we were there for quite a while.
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Ivan Vamos: I wonder, one interesting thing I remember is that one day.
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Ivan Vamos: There was this rain of.
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Ivan Vamos: tinsel it was cold chaff, in some parts of the world war, it was called windows, in the first operation, where it went into being used as an Anti radar.
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Ivan Vamos: screen in Humbert Humbert.
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Ivan Vamos: military air air raid.
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Ivan Vamos: So this tensile came down from the sky and we were collecting tinsel and it was great same very exciting I don't know what she used it for but she had gotten a lot of things and I have collected an awful lot of it, she may still be her family may still be decorating.
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Ivan Vamos: Christmas trees with it.
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Ivan Vamos: Then things changed a little bit.
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Ivan Vamos: And I didn't know at the time.
00:24:00.930 --> 00:24:08.700
Ivan Vamos: At all Maybe my mother that maybe she didn't she was going out and buying food or trading things for food.
00:24:10.680 --> 00:24:12.120
Ivan Vamos: So she.
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Ivan Vamos: At that point, began to get worried we had to go into a Eric Shelton, very often, and by that time, people who are asking questions of people in Aries shots are you saying earlier, each of the four hours, once the race starts.
00:24:33.930 --> 00:24:42.570
Ivan Vamos: and have not much to do so, they asked questions well when we asked when we were asked those questions they were.
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Ivan Vamos: Not that threatening sounding but then the.
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Ivan Vamos: Rural police the gender showed up and began to.
00:24:57.450 --> 00:25:00.540
Ivan Vamos: Also inquire and and we were.
00:25:02.310 --> 00:25:11.940
Ivan Vamos: Not quite fitting in we were by that time accepted by the village, but it was clear that we there was some suspicion so.
00:25:14.370 --> 00:25:23.850
Ivan Vamos: There were there was a problem being in the air, a show there was a problem being out of the shower Eric shelter was your suspect so.
00:25:27.270 --> 00:25:28.590
Ivan Vamos: One reprieve.
00:25:29.670 --> 00:25:35.550
Ivan Vamos: I had gotten measles my mother, at one point said oh boy, you have measles, but that's great.
00:25:36.210 --> 00:25:54.660
Ivan Vamos: We don't have to go through the air each other, nobody wants to kids with measles in the air, a shelter so that gave us a little bit of a reprieve, and this may have been a little bit later in the spring, when the Germans had invaded Hungary.
00:25:55.860 --> 00:25:59.130
Ivan Vamos: In order to control the Hungarian Government.
00:26:00.240 --> 00:26:06.150
Ivan Vamos: The Hungarian Government on the MIC loesch or the was beginning to make.
00:26:10.200 --> 00:26:24.450
Ivan Vamos: openings for peace negotiations with the Russians, or so it was thought and the Germans wouldn't have none of none of that so they invaded to take over, Hungary and set up more.
00:26:26.370 --> 00:26:28.680
Ivan Vamos: loyal government to the access.
00:26:29.850 --> 00:26:30.210
Ivan Vamos: and
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Ivan Vamos: This became worrisome because apparently these rural policeman that gender or coming around.
00:26:42.810 --> 00:26:49.650
Ivan Vamos: Very haughty with Cox crow feathers on their hats and they were.
00:26:50.760 --> 00:26:53.580
Ivan Vamos: Looking for people to.
00:26:55.050 --> 00:26:58.950
Ivan Vamos: bring into a temporary ghetto and right away.
00:27:00.600 --> 00:27:03.240
Ivan Vamos: send them by train.
00:27:04.590 --> 00:27:12.330
Ivan Vamos: To wherever Germany wanted them to send them through it turned out to be Auschwitz, for the most part, but Treblinka other places.
00:27:16.710 --> 00:27:18.480
Ivan Vamos: It seemed that.
00:27:19.830 --> 00:27:24.120
Ivan Vamos: This became worrisome enough that my mother had said.
00:27:25.440 --> 00:27:35.850
Ivan Vamos: We were leaving to Budapest, the areas were getting too close whatever, she said to the old lady we said goodbye, and we left.
00:27:37.020 --> 00:27:38.880
Ivan Vamos: And we showed up at a.
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Ivan Vamos: Long long walk less.
00:27:44.850 --> 00:27:57.570
Ivan Vamos: trolley car rides more long walk middle of the night we showed up at a house, and this was a protected house under.
00:27:59.190 --> 00:28:04.260
Ivan Vamos: One of the being tribal nations, probably Sweden.
00:28:05.520 --> 00:28:16.680
Ivan Vamos: Initially, Sweden on the realm Wallenberg had established is protected houses and issues, some false papers, these were people that were gathered there.
00:28:17.310 --> 00:28:30.810
Ivan Vamos: to become Swedish citizens the Swiss that the same thing, later on, the Spanish litigation bit some of that later on, and even the Vatican did some of that later on.
00:28:32.910 --> 00:28:53.340
Ivan Vamos: So you're going to be going to Sweden and you were protected until the war got over and then you go to Sweden, and there were protecting you on the debt that routes well they took us into the House my mother and I, and it was very crowded.
00:28:54.600 --> 00:29:03.450
Ivan Vamos: And we went up, it was an apartment house, we went up to a apartment and there we.
00:29:04.560 --> 00:29:16.080
Ivan Vamos: Were ushered into the apartment with a child's room and I was sent into the child's room, you can see middle picture.
00:29:17.790 --> 00:29:29.880
Ivan Vamos: batch of little kids I didn't draw them all, they were about 40 of them usually there and the room next door outside with grownups arguing with each other.
00:29:30.780 --> 00:29:41.460
Ivan Vamos: What to do what was going to happen what's happening who's going to clean the bathroom whatever they were arguing about it was constant then night.
00:29:43.020 --> 00:29:46.410
Ivan Vamos: US children, we were pretty happy.
00:29:47.970 --> 00:29:53.490
Ivan Vamos: When I talk to teenagers usually tell them a.
00:29:54.570 --> 00:29:59.490
Ivan Vamos: kid like you are a young person like you sorry about me calling your kid.
00:30:01.470 --> 00:30:05.880
Ivan Vamos: was put in charge of keeping all these little kids happy.
00:30:07.080 --> 00:30:15.780
Ivan Vamos: What to do there were no books that when old toys, but there were there was a wallpaper along the children's room.
00:30:16.440 --> 00:30:35.100
Ivan Vamos: And they would point to the old paper and they say, do you see that there was that little girl in a swing he she got into terrible trouble, let me tell you about the mess she made and the trouble she got and foot story would go on, then the boy would come, you know.
00:30:36.180 --> 00:30:40.290
Ivan Vamos: afterward the sometimes sometime and lead you to some.
00:30:41.760 --> 00:30:46.980
Ivan Vamos: funny exercises, you know, everybody jump up and.
00:30:48.210 --> 00:30:48.990
Ivan Vamos: touch your head.
00:30:51.150 --> 00:30:51.720
Ivan Vamos: Whatever.
00:30:54.480 --> 00:30:57.420
Ivan Vamos: Sometimes they taught us nasty songs.
00:30:58.770 --> 00:31:10.860
Ivan Vamos: We love that all we sang them all the time grown ups hated it, but we had a good time we could talk to each other, I wasn't restricted from talking to people anymore.
00:31:13.980 --> 00:31:15.990
Ivan Vamos: I could tell him anything I liked.
00:31:17.850 --> 00:31:25.350
Ivan Vamos: same with them, so it was a good time, but we were in the same room same place for probably about two months.
00:31:27.420 --> 00:31:29.550
Ivan Vamos: Then one day.
00:31:31.980 --> 00:31:40.260
Ivan Vamos: unbeknownst to us, the government change once again and the Germans had installed the ultra rightist.
00:31:42.270 --> 00:31:54.120
Ivan Vamos: Viola show me lush means cross arrow neil's and arrow and that's what that was their symbol, rather than the hustle hard and Christ, the swastika.
00:31:56.310 --> 00:31:56.790
Ivan Vamos: So.
00:31:57.930 --> 00:32:02.010
Ivan Vamos: These people, or they didn't care about.
00:32:03.090 --> 00:32:06.690
Ivan Vamos: neutral nations, they didn't care about anything they're there.
00:32:07.980 --> 00:32:11.010
Ivan Vamos: role in the world was to kill.
00:32:12.870 --> 00:32:19.500
Ivan Vamos: All the people that didn't fit into Hungary, including Jews, of course, and and.
00:32:20.670 --> 00:32:21.420
Ivan Vamos: I presume.
00:32:24.120 --> 00:32:28.920
Ivan Vamos: Slovak residents, I presume, all kinds of other people that were on their list.
00:32:31.290 --> 00:32:35.970
Ivan Vamos: gypsies, of course, Roma people in their terms.
00:32:38.910 --> 00:32:49.050
Ivan Vamos: These people showed up at the apartment house, we were in and they were with attack dogs, they were shooting weapons into the air, and they were emailing everybody else.
00:32:51.780 --> 00:32:54.870
Ivan Vamos: We are marching you out out.
00:32:56.850 --> 00:33:00.150
Ivan Vamos: We left the apartment house and we were marched to.
00:33:01.350 --> 00:33:05.010
Ivan Vamos: The shoreline of the Danube, where.
00:33:06.750 --> 00:33:07.350
Ivan Vamos: We.
00:33:08.550 --> 00:33:10.500
Ivan Vamos: assembled along the then you.
00:33:11.730 --> 00:33:12.630
Ivan Vamos: hear from.
00:33:16.410 --> 00:33:34.920
Ivan Vamos: The web is a picture of people being marched during that time I don't know how they got the picture, but they did, and here is another picture of this is going on and nia if you would then go to the third picture.
00:33:37.350 --> 00:33:45.720
Ivan Vamos: Which is mine at the bottom of the no no back back no down there we go Thank you.
00:33:48.000 --> 00:33:50.460
Ivan Vamos: We were once we got to the this.
00:33:52.080 --> 00:33:54.120
Ivan Vamos: shoreline, then you shoreline.
00:33:55.530 --> 00:34:12.750
Ivan Vamos: A person and officer, perhaps a German office or perhaps Hungarian separated us and US children, old people sick people anybody else that couldn't be used was sent to one side.
00:34:13.440 --> 00:34:21.570
Ivan Vamos: Here is on a writer, the picture and under left side and out of the picture war those people that could still work.
00:34:22.620 --> 00:34:29.070
Ivan Vamos: And my mother was sent to that side, I was sent to the children's side and.
00:34:30.480 --> 00:34:33.900
Ivan Vamos: People guarding us with weapons and.
00:34:35.880 --> 00:34:38.610
Ivan Vamos: I didn't know what to do.
00:34:39.870 --> 00:34:50.010
Ivan Vamos: What would happen next, but my mother, she said had approached a Budapest policeman render not a trend or a render.
00:34:50.580 --> 00:35:04.380
Ivan Vamos: city policeman was a little bit more sympathetic and said i've got a sweater for my son over there i've got to go see him and i've got to give them a sweater i'll come back or whatever, she said.
00:35:05.700 --> 00:35:07.050
Ivan Vamos: He said on.
00:35:10.200 --> 00:35:21.000
Ivan Vamos: off she went with the sweater coming to me, and you know I came there she grabbed my arm and we ran and you can see, on the picture.
00:35:22.080 --> 00:35:39.000
Ivan Vamos: That she's running with me holding her hand and these soldiers turn their weapons around on us, but then we were alongside of the people there were looking into this scene, who are.
00:35:40.860 --> 00:35:46.410
Ivan Vamos: Probably Catholics, so they demoed in through the crowd so we got away.
00:35:48.240 --> 00:35:51.390
Ivan Vamos: We went on from there, near scroll down, please.
00:35:53.700 --> 00:35:54.420
Ivan Vamos: And we.
00:35:56.670 --> 00:35:59.970
Ivan Vamos: Just walked around and we were questions.
00:36:00.990 --> 00:36:16.200
Ivan Vamos: We had all false papers, some of the new lush corner could be seen, they were sort of rough eons and in very strange looking assembly of uniforms by that time.
00:36:18.210 --> 00:36:24.990
Ivan Vamos: Fully armed but essentially their job was to go find them bring in.
00:36:26.910 --> 00:36:31.110
Ivan Vamos: Or, if necessary, kill Jews and others.
00:36:32.880 --> 00:36:38.460
Ivan Vamos: While the military would was actually by that time fending off the drip of the.
00:36:43.140 --> 00:36:46.470
Ivan Vamos: Russian and Ukrainian troops that were.
00:36:47.790 --> 00:36:49.530
Ivan Vamos: beginning to see each to city.
00:36:51.450 --> 00:36:55.500
Ivan Vamos: seizure Budapest last that all together about three months is thought.
00:36:57.300 --> 00:36:59.100
Ivan Vamos: We were questions, as I said.
00:37:00.120 --> 00:37:02.790
Ivan Vamos: We got away fortunately.
00:37:03.960 --> 00:37:08.340
Ivan Vamos: And we ducked into this burnt out apartment house.
00:37:09.360 --> 00:37:17.070
Ivan Vamos: Probably near that then you've as well we didn't go very far we went up to a top floor and there.
00:37:20.910 --> 00:37:32.010
Ivan Vamos: was no people there it's the police had been abandoned it was falling down, it was a smoldering probably burning again a little bit and.
00:37:33.840 --> 00:37:50.430
Ivan Vamos: We stayed in this burnt out apartment their own their own looking for things, then we decided to eat my mother had brought from that village a bag of something was split piece.
00:37:51.540 --> 00:38:04.920
Ivan Vamos: I didn't know what we what we had up to that point but split peas pretty good food, but that food for trying to eat raw we tried we couldn't do it, we had to cook it.
00:38:07.140 --> 00:38:08.520
Ivan Vamos: First, we needed water.
00:38:10.440 --> 00:38:15.270
Ivan Vamos: All the pipes are of course broken and everything else, but we found that high.
00:38:16.320 --> 00:38:34.800
Ivan Vamos: In bathrooms there was a flushing tank and if the wall stayed up if the flushing tanks stayed up water usually stayed in it, so we piled up furniture my mother climbed up we've looked for various.
00:38:36.750 --> 00:38:39.510
Ivan Vamos: receptacles they could use.
00:38:40.710 --> 00:38:43.830
Ivan Vamos: And we managed to get watered down from there.
00:38:45.060 --> 00:38:45.690
Ivan Vamos: and
00:38:47.520 --> 00:39:03.000
Ivan Vamos: We then decided to cook and the picture shows us cooking on the stove now this place that fireplaces within cooking fireplaces my mother explained that.
00:39:03.780 --> 00:39:20.430
Ivan Vamos: Smoke would go up the chimney they know that somebody is in in there and they go look for us well, what about the smoke from the stove that we're we're cooking with wood that I brought I broken furniture I I got that it brought border.
00:39:21.450 --> 00:39:27.090
Ivan Vamos: And my mother fortune, unfortunately, was a smoker so should we add matches or.
00:39:28.170 --> 00:39:29.790
Ivan Vamos: know if we're.
00:39:30.960 --> 00:39:42.480
Ivan Vamos: Building a fire in a in next year old side kitchen it just smoke coming out of building it will look like the building is on fire, nobody will bother with that.
00:39:44.130 --> 00:39:48.750
Ivan Vamos: So we were safe because we made believe the building was on fire.
00:39:51.000 --> 00:39:51.960
Ivan Vamos: Strange world.
00:39:53.520 --> 00:39:54.720
Ivan Vamos: And we cooked we cook.
00:39:56.760 --> 00:40:04.320
Ivan Vamos: once every two three days became a mosh then, then it nearly froze at night, then we tried to warm it up, then we.
00:40:06.660 --> 00:40:07.080
Ivan Vamos: Had.
00:40:08.370 --> 00:40:30.810
Ivan Vamos: frozen pea soup or whatever to unthought it went on one of my activities was trying to look at the areas that were going on all the time in Budapest at the time, and my mother kept me from doing that, during the daytime.
00:40:34.050 --> 00:40:51.360
Ivan Vamos: But at night, she felt safe enough that nobody would see me, but she made me stand in front of where the windows, with which had been blown out already so there were no glass in them and I used to watch this area going on and.
00:40:53.130 --> 00:40:53.610
Ivan Vamos: Some.
00:40:54.720 --> 00:40:57.840
Ivan Vamos: Times pretty damn close to us what once.
00:40:59.460 --> 00:41:11.160
Ivan Vamos: Next, building was bombed and part of the staircase fell in and we had to go to another building start all over again gathering old utensils and other things.
00:41:11.760 --> 00:41:20.400
Ivan Vamos: We also gathered paper and we use that for insulation in our clothing and we use that for.
00:41:21.870 --> 00:41:36.960
Ivan Vamos: Making fires, we use that for our bedding and we read that read from that later I found that by the time I got through with these parts of my life I was able to read and.
00:41:38.370 --> 00:41:49.140
Ivan Vamos: when somebody asked whether you had any education at that point, I said I was home schooled except we didn't know who is home, we were in but.
00:41:50.880 --> 00:41:53.100
Ivan Vamos: It it went on, and it it.
00:41:54.900 --> 00:41:56.010
Ivan Vamos: Fortunately.
00:41:58.410 --> 00:42:10.410
Ivan Vamos: got us past that point, then one day out of the window, I saw planes coming down low strafing the Main Street, we were on a side street.
00:42:13.050 --> 00:42:21.600
Ivan Vamos: strafing the Main Street, and they were red stars on them, those are Russians with the red stars, yes, they were risky.
00:42:23.700 --> 00:42:35.430
Ivan Vamos: So we watched and I said well they're here, then you know not yet and the tanks came and again with a red star down the main street and all sorts of.
00:42:37.290 --> 00:42:42.390
Ivan Vamos: battle going on around us, my mother kept us in the apartment.
00:42:43.950 --> 00:42:56.520
Ivan Vamos: And the battle them was going across the river the Germans and Hungarians and the some other allies review your retreat it across the Danube.
00:42:57.690 --> 00:43:04.080
Ivan Vamos: To the Buddha side Russians control their side and after a while we decided that we would.
00:43:05.310 --> 00:43:05.880
Ivan Vamos: Go.
00:43:07.620 --> 00:43:08.730
Ivan Vamos: Go back home.
00:43:12.690 --> 00:43:14.850
Ivan Vamos: move one picture down, please.
00:43:15.270 --> 00:43:21.870
Public Programs: haven, where we, we need to take questions in another two or three minutes.
00:43:21.870 --> 00:43:28.920
Ivan Vamos: So okay well anyway, the Russians were there there they fed us they helped us and.
00:43:30.300 --> 00:43:35.910
Ivan Vamos: Let me just go to the very last picture very last picture very last very last thing.
00:43:37.560 --> 00:43:52.380
Ivan Vamos: There there's my passport and there's my Green Card and above that, just quickly, I had a I, for various reasons, I come to the US on my own.
00:43:53.370 --> 00:44:05.730
Ivan Vamos: My mother and check she married or able to come out and I was then left behind, but about a year later, was able to come out with a English signer on my neck.
00:44:06.780 --> 00:44:10.350
Ivan Vamos: took a couple of days, and I was.
00:44:11.850 --> 00:44:21.210
Ivan Vamos: Then, on my way to be a US citizen there's my Green car that, but let me, let me try to address some other questions sorry I took so long.
00:44:24.270 --> 00:44:25.290
Public Programs: Now it's great.
00:44:26.550 --> 00:44:33.510
Public Programs: Thank you um so we have a few questions and if you have any other questions, please you can put them in the Q amp a or in the chat.
00:44:34.650 --> 00:44:39.240
Public Programs: Linda asked what role did camp retro play in your success.
00:44:39.300 --> 00:44:40.920
Ivan Vamos: Oh camp rock roll.
00:44:43.260 --> 00:45:05.070
Ivan Vamos: The first summer I was back the summer was completely done, I was at a school, which had the some some games some other things not nothing much was happening in a US my mother, who was doing piecework at the time in.
00:45:06.570 --> 00:45:07.470
Ivan Vamos: Manhattan.
00:45:09.330 --> 00:45:11.850
Ivan Vamos: found the first three settlement house.
00:45:13.740 --> 00:45:19.260
Ivan Vamos: retro recreation rooms of the settlement house wreck row.
00:45:20.400 --> 00:45:20.940
Ivan Vamos: Was.
00:45:22.320 --> 00:45:41.970
Ivan Vamos: There camp and she got a scholarship for me to go there and I had gone there love the place work there afterwards became a pot washer became a counselor became a woodworking specialist swimming instructor whatever.
00:45:43.740 --> 00:45:56.370
Ivan Vamos: It was great thing in my life and a great thing in the life of a lot of other kids at that time environments, they Park, and I still do a lot of the things that.
00:45:58.110 --> 00:46:00.000
Ivan Vamos: I love to do at that time.
00:46:03.270 --> 00:46:09.840
Ivan Vamos: One more thing alone camp retro that every they had a one person, an old lady that was.
00:46:12.600 --> 00:46:18.600
Ivan Vamos: fun funding, some of these first three settlement house off the bowery in New York.
00:46:21.630 --> 00:46:26.070
Ivan Vamos: Children of all sorts all colors all religions.
00:46:28.350 --> 00:46:31.230
Ivan Vamos: Including Mohammed and, by the way, from.
00:46:32.430 --> 00:46:34.680
Ivan Vamos: Bosnia and elsewhere okay so.
00:46:36.030 --> 00:46:54.360
Ivan Vamos: They old lady invited some representative kids and they carefully chose kids that could behave themselves, I was one of those I was trained well in Europe, and I was representing immigrants and.
00:46:55.440 --> 00:47:09.000
Ivan Vamos: She fed us very dainty heck fit finger sandwiches and talk to us about the joys of supporting camp role, so I was part of their promotion as well, it turns out.
00:47:11.700 --> 00:47:16.110
Public Programs: i've been have you published a book or displayed your drawings publicly.
00:47:17.790 --> 00:47:18.390
Ivan Vamos: Excuse me.
00:47:19.440 --> 00:47:21.150
Public Programs: Have you published a book.
00:47:21.180 --> 00:47:28.950
Ivan Vamos: or display published it, but it is available for publication if anybody is interested and I have about.
00:47:29.490 --> 00:47:33.510
Ivan Vamos: 25 pages of endnotes which are dense.
00:47:37.620 --> 00:47:52.440
Ivan Vamos: Information that tries to set up how I try to establish what what year I was able to, and what event, I was able to link my memories to.
00:47:53.340 --> 00:48:07.500
Ivan Vamos: In doing additional research so i'm happy to deal with this for but i've just been talking to school is based, basically, and some other rolled up goods oops.
00:48:09.330 --> 00:48:24.150
Public Programs: And Michelle would like to know what do you think of the growth of anti Semitism in today's world and what should use be learning from what happened in the Holocaust well regard to the current anti semitism.
00:48:24.330 --> 00:48:25.620
Ivan Vamos: Okay, from my.
00:48:27.180 --> 00:48:29.370
Ivan Vamos: grandfather's misconception.
00:48:30.810 --> 00:48:35.010
Ivan Vamos: Even though I served in the US navy and even though I.
00:48:36.570 --> 00:48:40.980
Ivan Vamos: Very secular and all my beliefs and everything else I.
00:48:42.090 --> 00:48:47.010
Ivan Vamos: do believe that there is no getting away from it i'm a Jew, and I.
00:48:49.890 --> 00:48:50.340
Ivan Vamos: Am.
00:48:51.840 --> 00:48:55.890
Ivan Vamos: responsible for other Jews and other people that are.
00:48:57.510 --> 00:49:00.900
Ivan Vamos: Perhaps more care to be more religious than I.
00:49:03.060 --> 00:49:06.120
Ivan Vamos: I have to pass that information on to my grandchildren.
00:49:08.070 --> 00:49:14.310
Ivan Vamos: It is a dangerous world and it's very difficult to deal with.
00:49:15.510 --> 00:49:18.420
Ivan Vamos: places that are.
00:49:19.920 --> 00:49:22.290
Ivan Vamos: Going into a.
00:49:23.430 --> 00:49:30.270
Ivan Vamos: tough time in other senses, because these are tough times it pandemic and everything else.
00:49:31.620 --> 00:49:34.260
Ivan Vamos: I hold up and earlier.
00:49:37.560 --> 00:49:39.420
Ivan Vamos: The headline from.
00:49:41.850 --> 00:49:48.090
Ivan Vamos: backwards, I think, from you from the New York Times that says.
00:49:49.110 --> 00:50:02.190
Ivan Vamos: round up the usual escape goes that's from Article about Hungary, of all places, so we are very much endangered again.
00:50:03.420 --> 00:50:03.900
Ivan Vamos: and
00:50:06.510 --> 00:50:14.910
Ivan Vamos: I tried when I talk to people and I talked to people that are in in strange situations in addition to.
00:50:17.310 --> 00:50:18.390
Ivan Vamos: The school groups.
00:50:19.590 --> 00:50:35.760
Ivan Vamos: will be grown up soon, for example, this earlier this spring I talked to people in the water for the arsenal 700 of them that are putting cannons together.
00:50:37.800 --> 00:50:39.720
Ivan Vamos: And they basically.
00:50:41.970 --> 00:50:49.320
Ivan Vamos: had to hear that their perspective on minorities is important.
00:50:51.570 --> 00:51:01.260
Ivan Vamos: And that's a message I talked to the local office of the FBI and they asked what laws were you are on there.
00:51:02.430 --> 00:51:11.640
Ivan Vamos: And I had to do some research and I got back to them, and I said I was probably under about seven different laws in my first seven years.
00:51:13.200 --> 00:51:19.470
Ivan Vamos: The last can change if you don't keep the government sensible and sensitive.
00:51:20.970 --> 00:51:31.170
Ivan Vamos: So we have to worry about our rights, we have to worry about other people's rights because we may not be the first game goes, we may be the third or fourth in line.
00:51:32.940 --> 00:51:39.960
Public Programs: Okay, so we have two more questions so Claire would like to know if you still speak Hungarian and mixed with other Hungarians.
00:51:41.460 --> 00:51:44.490
Ivan Vamos: I still still speak Hungarian.
00:51:46.020 --> 00:51:49.500
Ivan Vamos: I understand, Hungarian, to a degree.
00:51:50.580 --> 00:51:54.180
Ivan Vamos: But going back to Hungary, which I did.
00:51:56.070 --> 00:51:58.320
Ivan Vamos: I found that I was not.
00:52:01.200 --> 00:52:05.790
Ivan Vamos: I was not able to converse in a very.
00:52:08.610 --> 00:52:09.210
Ivan Vamos: Nice a.
00:52:12.270 --> 00:52:18.330
Ivan Vamos: comfortable manner and dealing with unusual things such as.
00:52:19.380 --> 00:52:20.220
Ivan Vamos: Dealing with.
00:52:21.240 --> 00:52:24.960
Ivan Vamos: Engineering issues or stuff like that i'm completely out of out of.
00:52:25.980 --> 00:52:29.550
Ivan Vamos: touch I i'm not able to speak.
00:52:32.100 --> 00:52:38.910
Ivan Vamos: Technical stuff which ironically sounds an awful lot like or English distorted.
00:52:41.280 --> 00:52:45.360
Ivan Vamos: And I don't speak too many Hungarians my wife is Dutch.
00:52:46.500 --> 00:53:01.770
Ivan Vamos: And I hear as much Dutch occasionally, as I do, Hungarian and neither one is a very prominent in our lives, unfortunately I wish I would have kept up not only Hungarian but Slovak which I use those will speak.
00:53:03.570 --> 00:53:19.350
Public Programs: And this one is actually isn't a question, but one of our viewers just saying Ivan your drawings are wonderful, you have a talent i'm so glad you have published them you, you tell they tell your story in a very special way.
00:53:20.730 --> 00:53:22.980
Ivan Vamos: Well, thank you very much and.
00:53:25.980 --> 00:53:26.460
Ivan Vamos: I was.
00:53:28.650 --> 00:53:33.000
Ivan Vamos: known even in work where I had the.
00:53:34.770 --> 00:53:39.000
Ivan Vamos: Other responsibilities for every once awhile producing a.
00:53:40.230 --> 00:53:48.330
Ivan Vamos: cartoon that dealt with any funny and and unpleasant situation we dealt with and even now.
00:53:50.040 --> 00:53:52.290
Ivan Vamos: More than 25 years of.
00:53:53.550 --> 00:54:03.090
Ivan Vamos: My work after my retirement sometimes people come up with a cartoon so oh yeah we're still working on that problem I found the cartoon there there it is.
00:54:04.170 --> 00:54:05.100
Ivan Vamos: The same problem.
00:54:06.810 --> 00:54:08.910
Ivan Vamos: has been solved it yet so.
00:54:10.410 --> 00:54:14.370
Ivan Vamos: I have exercised that in funny ways.
00:54:16.530 --> 00:54:22.470
Public Programs: um we're here, we have some people that would like to try and reach you can I share your email address.
00:54:22.500 --> 00:54:27.480
Ivan Vamos: absolutely sure my email address and i'd be delighted to answer.
00:54:27.840 --> 00:54:28.800
00:54:31.020 --> 00:54:33.120
Ivan Vamos: To the best of my ability and.
00:54:35.370 --> 00:54:49.140
Ivan Vamos: I am available if it's if it's within about an hour drive from Albany I do have to take care of my wife, who has limits, so I can't stay away for that long but.
00:54:50.340 --> 00:54:57.210
Ivan Vamos: I am available to speak to school groups once they are avail was there, open for that.
00:54:57.750 --> 00:55:00.600
Ivan Vamos: Thank you very much for listening to me, I appreciate your.
00:55:01.020 --> 00:55:01.800
Ivan Vamos: attendance.
00:55:02.040 --> 00:55:15.360
Public Programs: At events that email is Ivan vamos iba and va firstname.lastname@example.org Ivan do you want to leave us with any words today um any thoughts, you want to leave us with.
00:55:15.900 --> 00:55:20.340
Ivan Vamos: Well, I I may add to this that.
00:55:21.720 --> 00:55:25.470
Ivan Vamos: I feel we're in a very dangerous time.
00:55:27.000 --> 00:55:37.170
Ivan Vamos: I see trends of that I do speak to other Hungarians, I do speak to other people from other countries.
00:55:39.060 --> 00:55:40.440
Ivan Vamos: That that have.
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Ivan Vamos: lived through or at least very strongly relate to.
00:55:48.780 --> 00:55:52.560
Ivan Vamos: These issues, and I see.
00:55:54.090 --> 00:55:58.290
Ivan Vamos: earmarks of the beginning of the 1930s were.
00:56:01.110 --> 00:56:02.820
Ivan Vamos: Rather, stable and.
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Ivan Vamos: well informed and and.
00:56:09.750 --> 00:56:11.760
Ivan Vamos: Well, meaning countries.
00:56:14.070 --> 00:56:22.500
Ivan Vamos: have problems, and they have problems, and they have sometimes leadership that says well.
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Ivan Vamos: I find the reason, which is those minorities their usual suspects, as the New York Times article says about Hungary.
00:56:37.710 --> 00:56:38.820
Ivan Vamos: is not a good.
00:56:40.140 --> 00:56:45.480
Ivan Vamos: Not a good trend I worry about it and I appreciate that the museum.
00:56:46.920 --> 00:56:52.950
Ivan Vamos: covers some of these issues and I appreciate they're allowing me to speak to you.
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Public Programs: Ivan Thank you so much for sharing your remarkable story with us today, your journey with your mother during the war as a powerful reminder both have the capacity of hate and racism to destroy lives.
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Public Programs: And the resilience of the human spirit we've recorded today's program and will email the recording tomorrow to everyone in attendance, along with some suggested follow up resources stay posted for that email in your inbox and.
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Public Programs: If you found the ivan's presentation meaningful we hope you'll support the Museum of Jewish heritage via the link in the zoom chat.
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Public Programs: And everything we do, including our work to preserve the stories of Holocaust survivors is made possible by the generosity of our Community Members, thank you once again, I then and take care, have a great afternoon everyone Thank you so much.
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Ivan Vamos: Thank you appreciate your.