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 will share his remarkable story of surviving the Holocaust in Hungary and the lessons he takes from this dark chapter of his childhood.

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Stories Survive is made possible by the Goldie & David Blanksteen Foundation.
Public programming at the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust is made possible, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council; the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; a Humanities New York CARES Grant with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the federal CARES Act; and other generous donors.

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