Paying tribute to the life and accomplishments of Dr. Clara Ambrus, distinguished physician, professor and humanitarian

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LEGISLATIVE RESOLUTION paying tribute to the life and accomplishments of
Dr. Clara Ambrus, distinguished physician, professor and humanitarian

WHEREAS, From time to time this Legislative Body takes note of certain
extraordinary individuals it wishes to recognize for their valued
contributions to the success and progress of society and publicly
acknowledges their endeavors which have enhanced the basic humanity
among us all; and
WHEREAS, Attendant to such concern and in full accord with its long-
standing traditions, this Legislative Body is justly proud to remember
Dr. Clara Ambrus, distinguished physician, professor, humanitarian and
Righteous Among the Nations, who passed away in Buffalo, New York, where
she had made her home for many years, on February 26, 2011 at the age of
86; and
WHEREAS, It is said that "He who saves one human being is as if he
saves an entire world"; and
WHEREAS, In 1963, Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes'
Remembrance Authority, embarked upon a worldwide project to grant the
title of Righteous Among the Nations, embodying this belief, to those
not of the Jewish faith who acted according to the most noble principles
of humanity, risking their lives to help Jews during the Holocaust; and
WHEREAS, On August 18, 2006, the Israeli government, using set crite-
ria and extensive documentation, bestowed the revered title of Righteous
Among the Nations upon Buffalo resident, Clara Ambrus, nee Baer, only
the fifth American to be so honored, in recognition of her lifesaving
efforts more than six decades ago, an honor she truly merits and one
which includes family members who shared in the rescue of Jews; and
WHEREAS, Oskar Schindler had his list; Clara Ambrus and her family had
their home in Budapest, and a nearby vacant textile factory; and
WHEREAS, While her husband Julian Ambrus served as a member of the
Hungarian Resistance, Clara Ambrus and the Baer family provided a safe
haven for Jews hiding from the Nazis, just as the German industrialist
had, sheltering and saving the lives of at least 50, including Rabbi
Bela Eisenberg, the future Chief Rabbi of Vienna, but estimated to more
likely be several hundred Jewish and non-Jewish lives saved as a result
of their efforts; and
WHEREAS, Born in Rome, where her father, an architect, was part of the
Hungarian Diplomatic Mission, on December 28, 1924, Clara Ambrus was
just 19 and in her first year of medical school when the Germans invaded
Budapest in 1944, Clara and her family turned their home into a refuge
and provided elaborate hideouts in the factory once managed by her
parents; anybody who rang the bell got a place; and
WHEREAS, Their discovery would have meant certain death for those
being sheltered and for Clara Ambrus and her family; whenever German
soldiers came to the door, she told them they had to wait until she tied
up the family's vicious dogs, though they weren't vicious at all, giving
everyone time to hide; and
WHEREAS, Very much involved with these efforts, Clara Ambrus' father,
Anthony Baer, was severely beaten when he was found to be carrying home
a suspiciously large amount of food, the injuries he suffered costing
him his life several years later; and
WHEREAS, Clara and her husband, Julian Ambrus, met at the University
of Budapest, where they had both begun their medical studies, and
married early in 1944, before the invasion of Hungary; and
WHEREAS, As a member of the Hungarian Resistance movement, Julian
Ambrus helped stage attacks against both German and Soviet invaders;

when the Soviets tightened their grip on Hungary in 1945, he was sent to
a Soviet prisoner-of-war camp, from which very few survived; and
WHEREAS, Julian Ambrus was able to use his medical training, though
limited at the time, to befriend a Russian doctor who warned him the
Soviets were coming the next day to move the prisoners to a Siberian
gulag; desperate, that night he dug a tunnel under the barbed wired
enclosure and, as he poked his head through the surface on the other
side, he was surprised and grateful to see the Russian doctor distract-
ing the watchtower guards, keeping the machine guns silent and enabling
him to make his escape; and
WHEREAS, World War II ended soon thereafter and Clara and Julian were
able to resume their studies, first in Budapest, then earning their
medical degrees at the University of Zurich in Switzerland, after which
they joined the staff of the Pasteur Institute in Paris; and
WHEREAS, They came to the United States in 1950 and to Buffalo's
Roswell Park Cancer Institute in 1955, where they have raised their
family, had distinguished research careers, became well-known throughout
Western New York for their contributions to medicine as well as their
humanitarian efforts and continued to help others, including during the
chaos of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, managing to secure jobs here for
as many as 50 Hungarians, and since that time, through their research
and in so many other ways in their adopted country; and
WHEREAS, Clara Ambrus also completed graduate studies at Jefferson
Medical College in Philadelphia and was a prominent physician and a
longtime professor of pediatrics and obstetrics and gynecology at the
State University of New York at Buffalo; she earned numerous honors and
awards, including the Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute's
George F. Koepf Award for the advancement of biomedical research; she
was declared a Foreign Member of the National Academy of Science in
Hungary, was named by the Pope as a Lady Commander of the order of the
Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem, and in 2008, was honored with the Anti-De-
famation League's prestigious Courage to Care Award; and
WHEREAS, Julian Ambrus, also 86, is a retired Roswell Park Cancer
Institute Researcher and SUNY Buffalo Medical School professor who
continues to work as a researcher at Buffalo General Hospital; and
WHEREAS, In addition to her beloved husband of 67 years, Dr. Julian L.
Ambrus, Sr., Clara Ambrus is survived by her children Dr. Madeline and
her husband Dr. David Lillie, Dr. Peter and his wife Claudia Ambrus, Dr.
Julian L. and his wife Sarah Ambrus, Jr., Linda A. and her husband
Edward Broenniman, Steven Ambrus, Katherine A. and her husband Thomas
Cheney, and Charles Ambrus; her treasured grandchildren Christine, Sarah
and Karen Lillie; Melissa Ambrus; Peter Ambrus, Jr.; Alexander and
Christopher Cheney and Courtney Ambrus; her dear brother Ivan Kavai;
several nieces and nephews and a legion of colleagues, friends and
admirers who will long cherish her memory; and
WHEREAS, Clara Ambrus exemplified the preservation of human values
during the darkest period in the civilization of mankind; she will
forever be a shining example of humanity at its very best and bravest
and an enduring source of hope and inspiration; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, That this Legislative Body pause in its deliberation to
celebrate the vital spirit of courage, bravery and beauty personified by
Clara Ambrus and to pay grateful tribute to her life and accomplish-
ments; and be it further
RESOLVED, That copies of this Resolution, suitably engrossed,be trans-
mitted to Yad Vashem and to Julian Ambrus and the Ambrus family with the
deepest condolences and greatest admiration of this Legislative Body.


  • 24 / May / 2011

Resolution Details

Law Section:
Resolutions, Legislative


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