February 15, 2008

Tom Lantos – The departure of a giant


Rep. Tom Lantos was a singular figure in the political landscape.

As a Holocaust survivor who was saved by the Swedish diplomat – Raoul Wallenberg, it would be fair to say that these two facts have marked his political lifelong path.

Tom Lantos was a relentless and passionate defender of human rights. He was similarly passionate when it came to educate the younger generations about the lessons of the Holocaust.

Some 10 years ago, together with his Argentinean friend, Baruj Tenembaum, Lantos has co-founded the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation, an NGO devoted to preserve and divulge the corageous legacy of Raoul Wallenberg and the other saviors of the Holocaust.

Tom Lantos never forgot his debt to Wallenberg. Back in the 80’s he was responsible for sanctioning the bill that granted US honorary citizenship to his savior and more recently he was the first dignitary to sign our campaign – ”100,000 names for 100,000 lives” which demands from the Russians credible answers regarding the fate of Raoul Wallenberg, who was kidnapped by the Soviets, 63 years ago.

Lantos was also the driving force behind the special tribute paid by the US Congress to Baruj Tenembaum, for his lifelong contribution to dialogue and understanding beyond religion and cultural barriers.

Congressman Lantos died at the age of 80, but he was still young in spirit and fully committed to his just cause. Unfortunately, he did not live long enough to see Raoul Wallenberg back home.

Tom has left us a huge void which we shall try to fill. We are committed to pursue his struggle.

May he rest in peace.

Perla Vaisburg