Clara Baer was 19 when the Nazis invaded Budapest in 1944, bringing the Final Solution to Hungary. She joined her parents, devout Catholics, in rescuing Jews, giving them refuge in the family’s home and a nearby textile factory.
She was 81 when Israel honored her for her heroism last week.
Mrs. Ambrus-Baer, second from left, received Yad Vashem’s designation as a Righteous Gentile during a ceremony Friday at the Israeli Consulate General in Manhattan. Her husband of 60 years, Julian Ambrus, left, was a member of the Hungarian resistance in World War II. The couple, who moved to the United States in 1950, live in Buffalo, where they worked in the medical field.
The Baer family saved several hundred Jews during the Holocaust, Julian Ambrus said. When German soldiers came to the Baer home, they would be warned that the family’s dogs “were very vicious.” Which they weren’t. The lie bought time for the Jews inside to hide.
The family also bribed German guards to bring Jews to safety.
“I never expected this,” Mrs. Ambrus-Baer said. “I took it for normal that somebody saves people’s lives.”
After the war, the couple moved to Switzerland, where they befriended Oskar Schindler, another hero of the Holocaust.
In the U.S., no one knew of their wartime exploits. Until Israel honored Mrs. Ambrus-Baer last week.
Hungarian Consul General Gabor Horvath, right, attended the ceremony.
“The Jewish state has a long memory,” said Arye Mekel, consul general, second from right. “We remember our enemies. We don’t easily forgive. But we remember our friends, too.”