Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Tom Lantos, 1928-2008

"Washington, DC - Congressman Tom Lantos (D-San Mateo, San Francisco), 80, passed away this morning due to complications from cancer at Bethesda Naval Medical Center."

Last year, Tom Lantos visited the University of Southern Denmark, attending the dissertation defense of his daughter, Katrina Swett. Mrs. Swett's dissertation was on the role of the U.S. congress in global human rights issues. See, The Lantos Doctrine for more.

Lantos was also the only Holocaust survivor ever to serve in Congress;

Born Feb. 1, 1928 in Budapest to a middle-class Jewish family, Lantos was 16 when the Nazis occupied Hungary and sent him to a labor camp. He escaped twice and eventually made it to a safe house run by Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg. With most of his family killed by the Nazis, Lantos joined the resistance. He arrived in the United States in 1947 on a college scholarship, earned a master's degree in economics at the University of Washington and a doctorate in economics at the University of California-Berkeley. Lantos taught for 30 years at San Francisco State University before winning a congressional seat in 1980.

See also this write up in the SF Gate.

From the limited secondary sources I've read, Lantos was a man that never minced words, a rare trait in contemporary politics. Anyone who attended the panel discussion as SDU following his daughter's dissertation enjoyed a great opportunity to hear the man, sharp and unfiltered. I later met him and his wife Annette, with Katrina and her husband Richard at the train station in Odense, waiting for the train to Copenhagen. We talked about family, me being an expatriate (by choice), and how much everyone enjoyed Denmark.

The Atlantic Community, SDU, and everyone here in Denmark who had the opportunity to meet Tom Lantos wish to extend our sincerest condolences to his wife Annette, daughter Katrina and their families.