Yad Vashem mourns the passing of US House of Representative Tom Lantos, last night in California. Lantos was a teenager in Budapest during the Holocaust, where he was one of the thousands of Jews rescued by Righteous Among the Nations Raoul Wallenberg. After immigrating to the United States, he went on to a distinguished career in public service.
Representative Lantos was a unique voice in the US Congress and an inspiration to all who knew him. His experiences during the war informed his passionate commitment to human rights everywhere, to the state of Israel and to Holocaust remembrance.
Lantos understood that the memory of the Holocaust should inspire people of goodwill to reject the role of bystanders to injustice. He was not only an outspoken advocate of human rights worldwide, who inspired by example, but also an activist for the prevention and cessation of genocide. Lantos noted that Wallenberg served as his example, courageously illustrating how individuals, acting according to the values that underpin our civilization, can effect positive change and make a vital difference. He was fearless and forthright when speaking up whenever human rights were trampled, and as a Holocaust survivor wielded the moral authority to make his voice heard.
As both a Holocaust survivor and member of Congress, Lantos was the embodiment of the survivors who “chose life.” His distinctive presence will be missed.
Yad Vashem extends its sincerest condolences to Mrs. Lantos and the entire Lantos family.