Clara Ambrus

Hungary

Clara Ambrus with her husband, 1945Clara Ambrus with her husband, 1945
The name of Clara Ambrus on the honor wall in the Garden of the Righteous, Yad VashemThe name of Clara Ambrus on the honor wall in the Garden of the Righteous, Yad Vashem

On October 15, 1944 the Arrow Cross Fascist movement seized  power and instituted a reign of terror in Budapest. Hundreds of Jews were shot in the streets and on the banks of the Danube; others were drafted for brutal forced labor. On November 8, 1944, the Hungarians concentrated more than 70,000 Jews – men, women, and children in the Ujlaki brickyards in Obuda. From there they were taken on a forced march to camps in Austria. Thousands were shot and thousands more died as a result of starvation or exposure to the bitter cold.

It was during this period that Clara Ambrus and Alexander Szirmai, two medical students at the Budapest university, joined forces to save Jews. Eva Klein (Fisher) and Clara Ambrus had been friends since they were teenagers. When her friend turned to her, Clara did not hesitate and hid her in her home. She then gave Eva her identity card so that she would be able to leave Budapest, but Eva didn’t want to leave her family behind. Eventually Clara hid Eva’s entire family in the attic and cellar of a factory building. In this she was helped by Alexander Szirmai. Other Jews found refuge in the same place and the two rescuers helped all of them with hideouts and false papers. When the number of people in the care of the two students grew to twenty, Szirmai moved some of them to the histology laboratory of the University. He provided some of them with ID cards belonging to other medical students. Yad Vashem received several testimonies about the courageous deeds of the two young students.

In 1944 Clara Ambrus married a fellow medical student. In the mid 1950’s the couple emigrated to the United States and settled in Buffalo N.Y. Dr. Ambrus was a professor of pediatrics and obstetrics at the University of Buffalo, and received many professional honors.

On 29 January 2006 Yad Vashem recognized Clara Ambrus and Alexander Szirmai as Righteous Among the Nations.  The ceremony in honor of Clara Ambrus was held by the Israeli Consulate in New York, and she was presented with a medal and certificate of honor.

On 26 February 2011 she tragically died at the age of 86 from injuries suffered in a fire in her home.

 

This online story was made possible with the support of:

Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany

The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany works to secure compensation and restitution for survivors of the Holocaust.

Since 1951, the Claims Conference - working in partnership with the State of Israel - has negotiated for and distributed payments from Germany, Austria, other governments, and certain industry; recovered unclaimed German Jewish property; and funded programs to assist the neediest Jewish victims of Nazism.