Congressman Tom Lantos, the only Holocaust survivor to serve in Congress, has died.
A spokeswoman for the California Democrat says he passed away last night at Bethesda Naval Medical Center in Maryland. Last month, Lantos disclosed that he had been diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus.
The 80-year-old Lantos referred to himself as "an American by choice." He was born to Jewish parents in Hungary and was 16 when the Nazis occupied the country in 1944. Lantos twice escaped from a forced labor camp and came under the protection of Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who used his visa-issuing powers to save thousands of Hungarian Jews. Lantos' mother and much of his family perished in the Holocaust.
His personal background gave Lantos, who chaired the House Foreign Affairs Committee and founded the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, a moral authority unique in Congress.
Lantos is survived by his wife, two daughters and 18 grandchildren.
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