In a powerful display of resilience and remembrance, Sand Creek Middle School recently welcomed Holocaust survivor Ivan P. Vamos to speak to students about his extraordinary journey during one of history’s darkest times. The event, organized by teacher Nina Kaplan, aimed to educate and inspire young minds by providing firsthand accounts of the Holocaust and emphasizing the importance of empathy, tolerance and understanding.
Ivan Vamos, born in March 1938 in Budapest, Hungary, was faced with the terrifying reality of Hitler’s march into Austria as a young child. Despite the assumption that their established status would protect them, Ivan’s family soon realized the harsh truth. Ivan’s father, conscripted into a slave labor battalion accompanying the Hungarian Army in their invasion of Russia, tragically perished. The Vamos family faced further persecution as restrictions and discrimination against Hungarian Jews intensified.
As the war progressed, the Hungarian government, under the influence of Nazi Germany, began deporting Jews to concentration camps. Ivan’s mother, determined to protect her son, assumed false identities and sought refuge in rural areas until they eventually returned to Budapest. Seeking safety in protected houses arranged by courageous individuals like Raul Wallenberg, they narrowly escaped the boxcars destined for extermination camps.
Surviving in bombed-out apartment buildings until the arrival of the Russian forces, Ivan and his mother endured the hardships of post-war conditions. Eventually, they emigrated to the United States, where Ivan pursued education, built a career as an engineering geologist, and contributed to various fields and projects globally.
“Mr. Vamo’s visit to Sand Creek Middle School served as a profound opportunity for students to hear a firsthand account of the Holocaust and its lasting impact, Nina Kaplan said. “He has enriched our understanding of history and taught us valuable lessons of empathy and tolerance. We thank him for his unwavering dedication to educating future generations and for inspiring us all to create a more compassionate and inclusive world.”