Charles Mikecz Vámossy
ALL MATERIAL: COPYRIGHT CENTRAL EUROPEAN CULTURAL INITIATIVE / MEMORY PROJECT
**Interview conducted in 2019 by KCSP Interns Viktor Ivicsics and Judit Eszes.**
Charles Mikecz Vámossy was born on February 17, 1941 in Budapest, Hungary. He has one sister, Judit (Vámossy) Magyar. Charles is an information technology and services professional in the greater New York area and also a long-time active board member of the Hungarian American Coalition.
Charles hails from landed gentry on his paternal grandfather’s side and a strong industrialist family on his paternal grandmother’s. On his maternal side, his grandmother was a gimnazium teacher, who raised two daughters as a single mother. His life changed dramatically after WWII when the communist party rose to power in Hungary. His grandparents were deported to the countryside until 1953. His father went from being a foreign business correspondent in Budapest and earlier a junior diplomat in France to being a night watchman at a state farm near Budapest. While on duty his father - like many of his peers at the time - did translations for various publications. Charles was not allowed to go to a public high school because of his family’s background, so he attended a Franciscan school (although his family was heavily Protestant).
Although he lived in a suburb of Budapest (Leányfalu), Charles witnessed the Hungarian Revolution in 1956, and he recalls that it was the most important event in his life. Charles was 15 when the revolution broke out, and out of curiosity he went into the city, where his mother and sister lived, near Moricz Zsigmond Körtér. On October 25th he arrived at the Hungarian Parliament a mere half hour after the massacre there, witnessing the chaos and blood on the streets. He also witnessed the Hungarian national soccer team walking down Bartok Béla Avenue on their way in from the Kelenföld railway station (trains didn’t come in any further that day) - saying it was a sight he would never forget.
In November of 1945 Charles and his father escaped to Austria. He was only reunited with this sister and mother in 1964, when they, too, were able to go to the U.S. Charles, in his compelling interview, talks about the kindness and professionalism with which he and other refugees were received at Camp Kilmer and the assistance he received as a refugee of the Hungarian revolution. After his studies, he remained in the NY area and took an active part in the Hungarian-American community there. He was President of the Hungarian House in New York for 18 years, including the time when Hungary transitioned to democracy in 1989. He is still an active member of the Hungarian-American coalition, as well as a member of the Board and lives in Peekskill, New York.
Charles Mikecz Vámossy