Congressman Lantos Dead at 80

Californian was the only Holocaust survivor in Congress
By Jonas Oransky,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 11, 2008 11:17 AM CST
Rep. Tom lantos, D-Calif., left, looks on as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., right, speaks during a news conference in San Francisco in this April 10, 2007 file photo. Lantos the only Holocaust...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Tom Lantos, the only Holocaust survivor to serve in Congress, has died at 80. The California Democrat disclosed his cancer last month and announced that he wouldn't seek reelection. His widow said in a statement that his life was "defined by courage, optimism, and unwavering dedication to his principles and to his family," the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Lantos was a passionate supporter of Israel, and an advocate-turned-critic of the Iraq war. Just 14 when the Nazis occupied his native Hungary, he twice escaped a forced labor camp and was protected by the legendary Raoul Wallenberg. His two daughters, who have 18 children between them, helped to fulfill a pledge to regenerate the family murdered during the Holocaust.