Late Congressman Tom Lantos honored at ceremony in Budapest

The late Tom Lantos, a Holocaust survivor and longtime congressman serving parts of San Mateo County and San Francisco, was honored June 21 outside the Budapest house where he lived during World War II.

The ceremony coincided with the 70th anniversary of a Nazi decree that forced Budapest Jews to live in houses marked with a yellow Star of David until the city’s ghetto was established several months later, the Times of Israel reported.

Lantos was arrested by the Nazis in 1944, at age 16, and taken to a forced labor camp outside the city. After escaping, he lived for six months in a yellow-star house along with another 70 Jews.

Lantos participated in the anti-Nazi resistance until the end of the war in 1945; two years later he moved to the United States. In 1980, he was elected to the House of Representatives, serving until his death in 2008, from esophageal cancer at age 80.

The Democrat, a staunch human rights advocate, served 14 terms and is the only Holocaust survivor to have served in the Congress.

Lantos’s daughter, Katrina Lantos-Sweet, reminisced about her childhood in a heartfelt video message shown at the ceremony. She recalled her father taking her back to Budapest and telling her how his former friends and neighbors had turned on him, the Times of Israel reported. — jta