February 11, 2008

Lantos dies of cancer at age 80


Rep. Tom Lantos was a unique figure in the US Congress and world politics at large. His passing leaves a huge void.

Lantos, a Holocaust survivor who fought the Nazis alongside the Hungarian resistance, was eventually saved by Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who granted life-worth visas to 100,000 Hungaria Jews and ended-up abducted by the Soviets, never to be seen again.

It would be quite fair to say that Lantos had been deeply influenced by his savior. Human rights were at the top of his agenda, regardless of the forces he had to confront.

At the same time, Tom Lantos never forgot his debt to Wallenberg.

Back in the early 80’s, he propelled the bill that granted US honourary citizenship to his saviour.

About 10 years ago, he co-founded, together with the Argentinean Baruj Tenembaum, the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation, an NGO devoted to preserve and divulge the feats of Raoul Wallenberg and his likes.

Lantos was the first to sign our campaign – ”100,000 names for 100,000 lives”, which demands from the Russian authorities credible answers about the fate of Wallenberg.

A few years ago, he led the US Congress decision to award recognition to Baruj Tenembaum, for his lifelong humanitarian work.

In a sense, Lantos’ death was premature. He was as passionate as a 20 year-old person. Always full of plans and ready to give a good fight for just causes. On the other hand, he dreamt all his life to secure answers about the whereabouts of Raoul Wallenberg. Sadly enough, he died without getting them.

We, his friends and colleagues at the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation, pledge to take on Lantos’ legacy.

We shall miss him dearly.

May he rest in peace.

Danny Rainer
Honourary Vice-President
The International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation