"The protection of freedom of religion, conscience, and belief should be a significant priority of our nation. To permit the rampant abuse of this essential human right not only violates the core of our humanity, it harms the order and well-being of societies, including our own.
In short, protecting religious liberty is not just the right thing to do. It is almost always the smart thing to do."
It is with profound grief that the Lantos Foundation marks the passing of Shimon Peres, one of the giants of our time. The last of Israel's Founding Fathers, he was a statesman of the world and his death is a deep loss to all people of goodwill. He was a man of great intellect and principle whose devotion to his nation was equaled by his determination to seek peace.
He had a close and abiding friendship with Congressman Lantos, who held dear the memory of celebrating his 80th birthday with President Peres in Israel. It has been one of the Lantos Foundation’s great honors to have awarded our highest recognition, the Lantos Prize, to President Peres in 2014.
We will forever be grateful for his eternally optimistic, hopeful, and loving vision of a world united in freedom, respect, and peace. While many, including the Lantos Foundation, will strive to carry forward his noble legacy, the world will be hard-pressed to find his equal.
Letter sent to The Guardian by Mr. Eduardo Eurnekian and Mr. Baruch Tenembaum, Chairman and Founder of the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation.
Ref.: "Daughter of US Congressman among those returning Hungarian award" - The Guardian - Sept., 4, 2016
The International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation strongly repudiates the decision to award the Knight's Cross of the Order of Merit to Mr. Zsolt Bayer, a so-called journalist and author who advanced heinous racist remarks against Roma, Jewish and Muslims.
One of the co-founders of our NGO was the late US Congressman and Holocaust survivor, Mr. Tom Lantos. We were not surprised by his daughter's decision to return the aforementioned Hungary award following the ill-judged decision to offer the same distinction to a racist. We applaud her and all the other laureates who decided to take the same step in protest.
We call upon President Janos Ader and Prime Minister Viktor Orban to recall the award to Mr. Bayer.
Hungary was a country plagued with antisemitism during WWII. The infamous Arrow Cross Militia were Hitler's henchmen and oftentimes, they were more vicious than the Nazis themselves.
It was precisely in Hungary, where Raoul Wallenberg, the young Swede, embarked in an unprecedented life-saving operation which actually spared the lives of scores of Jews and other innocent victims of the Nazis and their Hungarian partners.
Any form of racism and discrimination should not be rewarded but strongly condemned. Instead, it seems that seven decades later, the present Hungarian government has learned very little from Raoul Wallenberg's legacy. This should be immediately rectified and addressed.
Our current flagship programme, named "Houses of Life", identifies and marks physical sites in Europe that served as shelters during the Holocaust for the benefit of the victims of the Nazi persecution. Hundreds of Houses of Life have been located across Europe, including in Hungary. The underlying idea is to spread around the brave exploits of the rescuers, instilling their values of solidarity in the hearts and minds of the young generations.
This could serve as an example for the Hungarian government to stress the legacy of the Hungarian rescuers rather than granting awards to those who propagate hatred and divide.
Eduardo Eurnekian – Chairman
Baruch Tenembaum – Founder
The International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation
34 East 67th Street
New York, NY 10065
September 2, 2016
For Immediate Release
Contact: Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett
It is with a heavy heart that I have decided to return the Knight’s Cross – a distinguished state award from Hungary that I was honored to receive in 2009. I am Katrina Lantos Swett, the daughter of the late Congressman Tom Lantos, a Hungarian Holocaust survivor who was the only survivor ever elected to the United States Congress.
Despite the unspeakable tragedies that my father experienced in Hungary during that darkest time of history, he never lost his love for his native homeland. During nearly three decades of Congressional service, Tom Lantos was a stalwart advocate for a free and democratic Hungary and a devoted friend to the Hungarian people. He passed his deep love of Hungary on to his children and grandchildren, many of whom have both studied and worked in Hungary. I am keeping that flame of love alive for the great-grandchildren who never met my father as I teach the language, the history, and the songs of Hungary to my own grandchildren.
The Knight’s Cross, which was bestowed on me by Prime Minister Bajnai, was a great honor that I hoped one day to pass on to my sons and daughters. It gives me real sorrow that I will not be able to do this. However, the government’s decision to award the Knight’s Cross to Zsolt Bayer has sullied this noble award. Mr. Bayer’s despicable record of overt and hateful anti-Semitism and racism is beneath contempt. He deserves censure, not honor, for his loathsome writings and speech. Indeed, earlier this year the publication he writes for was fined for engaging in hate speech on account of his words. I feel compelled to join the many others who have denounced the shamefulness of granting this state honor to a hate-filled xenophobe like Zsolt Bayer. Accordingly, with a heavy heart, I am returning the Knight’s Cross to the government of Hungary.
My father is no longer with us, but I remember clearly the incredible pride he felt when he was awarded Hungary’s highest civilian honor, the Grand Cross, at a ceremony in the magnificent Hungarian Parliament. It was a proud and happy day. I do not presume to know exactly what my father would do were he still alive. However, I feel confident he would call on Hungary to restore the honor and virtue of this award by stripping Mr. Bayer of this unmerited recognition.
August 4, 2016 would have been the 94th birthday of the great Swedish diplomat and hero, Raoul Wallenberg. A few days after this anniversary, the New York Times reported that the recently published diaries of the first KGB Chief, Ivan Serov, contain previously unknown references to Stalin ordering the death of Wallenberg in 1947. (Read the New York Times article here.)
The famed humanitarian was kidnapped by the Soviets in Budapest in January of 1945. Wallenberg’s disappearance and ultimate fate in the Soviet Gulag has been the source of mystery, speculation, and frequent dissimulation on the part of Russian leadership for over seven decades.
The Lantos Foundation calls on the Russian government, once and for all, to make all relevant documents available to researchers, Wallenberg family members, and the Swedish government so that the mystery surrounding the cruel and unjust fate of one of the greatest humanitarians of the 20th century can finally be resolved.
Lantos Foundation President, Katrina Lantos Swett, said, “It is past time for Russia to come clean on all the circumstances surrounding the death of Raoul Wallenberg in Soviet custody. Both history and justice demand a full accounting of what happened to one of the most important rescuers and heroes of the Holocaust."
She added that, “The Raoul Wallenberg Research Initiative (RWI-70), launched in the past year with the goal of answering the many unanswered questions about Raoul’s fate, should be given full and free access to these recently discovered materials and all other relevant documents.”
Raoul Wallenberg is credited with saving tens of thousands of Jewish lives in Budapest in 1944, including the late Congressman Tom Lantos. In 1981 President Ronald Reagan signed into law Congressman Lantos’ legislation granting Raoul Wallenberg honorary US citizenship, only the second man so honored in US history.
Dr. Lantos Swett added, “While many questions remain about what happened to Raoul Wallenberg, what is beyond question is that through his courage and decency, Wallenberg not only rescued countless innocent lives, he also rescued our faith in the power of decency and goodness to stand up even in the face of unimaginable evil. His legacy of humanity and courage will live forever.”
Katrina Lantos Swett Statement: "Professor Wiesel was a dear friend to the Lantos family and the Lantos Foundation and his passing is an inestimable loss to us all. He was indeed the moral conscience of the world and the Lantos Foundation was honored to have presented him with the Lantos Prize in 2010.
Elie had remarked once that he was one of those who did not sleep well and that it was his duty to make sure the world also did not sleep too well but rather was kept in remembrance of the evil that could overtake us if we permitted our humanity and our moral conscience to slumber. In this conviction he was truly a "brother" to my late father Congressman Tom Lantos, another Hungarian Holocaust survivor and his close friend. In a very similar vein my father had said " The veneer of civilization is paper thin, we are its guardians and we can never rest".
Through his extraordinary writing, speaking and advocacy, Elie Wiesel reached deep into the heart of an often callous and casual world with a quiet insistence that we remember and that we act. Mingled with our sorrow at his passing is a profound gratitude for the life of this great man. Our world will not be the same without him - we promise him that we will "never rest"."
NH residents remember holocaust survivor, author and activist Elie Wiesel's legacy By: Jennifer Currier, NH1.com
"Elie Wiesel was one of those beacons of light to us that helps us to remember that our job is important and we need to keep ever-vigilant in doing the things that we do.” - Denise Perron, Lantos Foundation Executive Director
A special worship was held at the Faith Baptist Chinese Church, Vancouver, Canada on May 15, 2016 in line with The Lantos Foundation's Solidarity Sabbath initiative, bringing a spotlight to China's human rights abuses.
On Wednesday, May 18th, the Lantos Foundation, the World Affairs Council of New Hampshire, & Red River Theatres are proud to present a screening of the 2016 Academy Award winning film, Son of Saul.
The film follows Saul Ausländer, a Hungarian Jewish prisoner in Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1944. Saul is forced to assist the Nazis in the machinery of large-scale extermination. While working, he discovers the body of a boy he takes for his son. As a rebellion is planned, Saul decidesto carry out the impossible task of saving the child’s body from the flames and offering the boy a proper burial.
6:00 PM - Red River Theatres, Concord, NH. Post-film discussion with Lantos Foundation President Katrina Lantos Swett.
Please consider supporting the Crossroads Film & Discussion Series with a $10 donation per ticket to the World Affairs Council NH.
To attend, please register by phone (603.314.7970) or athttp://www.wacnh.org/event-2228889
"There's a reason the late Tom Lantos, Congress' only Holocaust survivor and a formidable diplomat, applied for a visa to enter Iran every year for the last decade of his life. What better way to puncture the petty lies of a demagogue than to force him to confront a man who has lived the very history he denies and trivializes?" - John Kerry
Katrina Lantos Swett followed in her father's footsteps when she was recently denied a visa she sought in order to confront injustices and have difficult conversations about the state of human rights. This time it was in India, where there has been a frightening increase in religious intolerance and violence against minorities. Less than a month later, Dr. Lantos Swett entered the country on a tourist visa and attended a religious freedom conference focused on China. Officials suggested that her entry was a mistake.