A Fond Remembrance of My Friend by Annette Lantos

A Fond Remembrance of My Friend
Nina Lagergren: the Loyal and Devoted Sister of my Hero, Raoul Wallenberg

On April 5th at the age of 98, my dear friend Nina Lagergren quietly and gently “slipped the surly bonds of earth” and went on to eternity with the same grace and dignity that she showed throughout her life. Nina and I were brought together 40 years ago in the same cause - namely to try and solve the mystery of what had happened to one of the greatest humanitarians of the 20th century - Raoul Wallenberg. Nina was Raoul’s devoted sister and I was one of the thousands of Hungarian Jews whose lives he had saved. In so many ways our lives could not have been more different, but

our shared love for Raoul and the decency and courage that he embodied made us more than friends - it made us sisters.

Congressman Tom Lantos, Nina Lagergren, and Guy von Dardel look on as President Reagan signs legislation authored by Congressman Lantos making Raoul an Honorary US Citizen. October, 1981.

Congressman Tom Lantos, Nina Lagergren, and Guy von Dardel look on as President Reagan signs legislation authored by Congressman Lantos making Raoul an Honorary US Citizen. October, 1981.

Nina had a full and meaningful life in every sense of the word. She was married for over half a century to Judge Gunnar Lagergren and they raised 4 wonderful children and were exceptional grandparents to their many grandchildren. Nina made sure that the next generation of the family was imbued with Raoul’s sense of duty to be his brothers’ keeper and one of her grandchildren, Michael Wernstedt, carries on the family legacy through the work of the Raoul Wallenberg Differencemakers. 

Tom and Annette Lantos join Nina Lagergren on stage during the Raoul Wallenberg bust dedication in Washington, DC. November, 1995. Tom and Annette Lantos organize a rally to commemorate Roul’s 75th Birthday in Washington, DC. August, 1987.

Although our shared and individual efforts to find out the full truth about what happened to Raoul Wallenberg never yielded the hoped for liberation in this life, Nina’s lifelong work to tell her brother’s story has ensured Raoul’s immortality and his deserved and imperishable renown. My faith assures me that the reunion that she so longed for has now taken place, and I hope she will share with Raoul the infinite gratitude of those of us who he saved.

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Rwandan Genocide Reflection Day : Placing civilization's future on each of our shoulders

This weekend we pause to remember a tragedy of vast proportions - the 1994 Rwandan genocide. 800,000 people lost their lives in barely 100 days during a staggering explosion of hatred and violence. Despite the tragic lessons of the Holocaust and the killing fields of Cambodia, the world once again stood by as this gravest of crimes unfolded in real time. Brave leaders like Lt. General Roméo Dallaire, the commander of UN peacekeeping forces in Rwanda, begged for the manpower and authority to stop the violence - instead his forces were cut and he was prevented from seizing arms caches. In Congress, only a few lonely voices like that of Congressman Tom Lantos, called for America to intervene to stop the tragedy. Clearly the world failed to learn the lessons of history and a terrible price was paid by the people of Rwanda.

As we mark this dreadful anniversary, we must commit ourselves to being alert to the ever present danger posed by evil forces that enter into a society’s consciousness like a thief in the night. Paul Rusesabagina, the hero of Hotel Rwanda and the 2011 recipient of the Lantos Human Rights Prize has observed; 

“The message {of hate} crept into our national consciousness very slowly. It did not happen all at once. We did not wake up one morning to hear it pouring out of the radio at full strength. It started with a sneering comment, the casual use of the term “cockroach”, the almost humorous suggestion that Tutsis should be airmailed back to Ethiopia. Stripping the humanity from an entire group of people takes time. It is an attitude that requires cultivation, a series of small steps, daily tending.”  


In the same way that cultivating hatred involves small degrading daily abuses, the noble task of upholding human rights and strengthening respect for all people is a work that should imbue everything we do. If we cannot win the battle for a future of greater dignity, justice, and rights for all people, then we will have lost the future, regardless of whatever technological, scientific, or economic heights we may attain.

The world must embrace its newly articulated Responsibility to Protect - this doctrine must become enshrined in international law as a moral duty that transcends national borders. Since the Holocaust we have often heard the phrase “Never Again” uttered but not honored. We at the Lantos Foundation, turn instead to the words of Tom Lantos who has placed the responsibility for the future firmly on each of our shoulders. He said, 

“The veneer of civilization is paper thin. We are its guardians, and we can never rest.”

As we pray for the peace and rest of those lost in the Rwandan genocide, let us determine to “never rest” in defending our fellow human beings and the civilization we all share.

Media Advisory: Uyghur Freedom Rally


Rebiya Kadeer, known as the acknowledged global leader of the Uyghur people, will read a statment from Lantos Foundation President, Katrina Lantos Swett, during tomorrow's Rally in support of the Uyghur's. 



Media Advisory: Uyghur Freedom Rally

For immediate release

Contact: +1 (202) 478-1920

WHAT: Rally supporting the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act & UIGHUR Act

WHERE: Freedom Plaza -1455 Pennsylvania Ave, NW, Washington, DC 20004

WHEN: Saturday, April 6, 2019, 1:00 - 5:00 PM

WHO: Members of Congress, human rights leaders, Uyghur Americans, representatives of  Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, and Jewish faith communities, concerned citizens.

Join us April 6th to add your voice to those urging swift action by the U.S. Congress, U.S. Administration, and the international community. The Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act (H.R. 649 & S. 178) and the Uighur Intervention and Global Humanitarian Unified Response (UIGHUR) Act (H.R. 1025) are currently pending in the Congress. It is time for international action to end Chinese government’s brutal repression of the Uyghur people. The Chinese government has established a militarized police state equipped with cutting-edge surveillance technology in the Uyghur homeland of East Turkestan, and has swept an estimated 1.5 to 2 million people into a massive system of ethnic-concentration camps.

Experts have called the persecution of Uyghurs in China “a massive crime against humanity” and a case of “Never Again” happening again in the 21st century.

We will be joined by Members of Congress and speakers from numerous civil society organizations including Amnesty International, World Uyghur Congress, Uyghur American Association, Uyghur Human Rights Project, East Turkistan Association of Canada, Campaign for Uyghurs, Uyghur Academy USA, Uyghur Rally, International Campaign for Tibet, Soundvision, and Burma Task Force.

Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/uyghur-rally-tickets-59064259791


The Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) is a human rights research, reporting and advocacy organization. Our mission is to promote human rights and democracy for the Uyghur people, raise awareness of abuses of Uyghurs' human rights, and support the right of the Uyghur people to use peaceful, democratic means to determine their own political future.

UHRP was founded in 2004 as part of the Uyghur American Association (UAA), a Uyghur diaspora group which works to promote the preservation and flourishing of a rich, humanistic and diverse Uyghur culture. In partnership with UAA, in 2016 UHRP began operations as an independent group.

The 2019 Anne Frank Award Ceremony

the Lantos Foundation was proud to once again take part in the 2019 Anne Frank Award Ceremony where Ben Ferencz, the Chief Prosecutor for the Einsatzgruppen Trial held at Nuremberg, was honored for his historical heroism and his lifetime of work dedicated to the Rule of Law. Ben, now in his 100th year, remains a vibrant force of nature. Katrina Lantos Swett served as the Master of Ceremonies, and is joined (from left to right in group photo) by former US Ambassador on International Religious Freedom David Saperstein, Ben Ferencz, Mohammad Al abdallah (honored with the Anne Frank Special Recognition Award for his work with the Syria Justice and Accountability Centre), Dutch Ambassador Henne Schuwer, and Senator Ben Cardin.

Commit to Fighting the Hater Next Door - The Hill


“Massacre at the Mosques” reads one of many all-caps headlines reporting the mass killings in New Zealand last week. The world reels in the wake of the act, streamed live online by the shooter, whom we will not name here.  

Before the killer was stopped, on a fall Friday afternoon at the Al Noor Mosque and the Linwood Islamic Center, 49 men, women and children lay dead, with scores more wounded, as the mortal cost continues to rise.

In New Zealand, as is true so many times, we hear in the aftermath of these horrific hate crimes that the perpetrator was a “lone wolf.”  But as investigators do their work, as phones and laptops are seized and analyzed, it becomes clear that 21st-century hate often leaves a digital trail — a timeline of radicalization that is fed and fueled by others in the online hate community.

Take the killings at Tree of Life, the Pittsburgh synagogue, last October.  Just minutes before the attack, the killer posted on a social media platform, called Gab, “Screw your optics. I’m going in.” It would be his last in a series of posts that traced the timeline of his descent into hate.

In New Zealand, in Pittsburgh, and too many times before, what we see is that so-called “lone wolves” may act alone, but they hate in groups.

That is the lesson we learn — or, all too often, fail to learn — when we dig deeper into the dark thought-processes that turn hate into violence.

Today, with the memory of Christchurch’s innocents fresh in our minds, we announce a project uniting MEMRI and the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights & Justice. Our new report, “The Hater Next Door: Online Incitement Against Minorities in America,” shines a light on evil and hate in our internet age right here in the United States. A snapshot in time, spanning four months ending in February 2019, it offers an in-depth look into online incitement by neo-Nazis, white supremacists, separatists, racists, fascists and other groups and individuals of similar worldviews in the United States.

Sadly, this report portrays the hate movement as alive and well in U.S. cyberspace. The research suggests the main targets are Jews and African-Americans. However, it casts a wider net, aimed at Muslims, women, feminists and the LGBTQ community. The form that this hate assumes ranges from old libels to novel slanders with no basis in fact.

Our work is more than an academic exercise or archival documentation. The intent is to track and report online hate postings in as-close-to-real-time as possible. In this way, The Hater Next Door materials will be developed into a tool for prosecutors and investigators — with a goal of moving us closer to a time when digital first-responders can stop violence before it begins.

Viewing these vile posts is uncomfortable, and that’s understandable. People of goodwill would prefer that such things did not exist. But this is our reality, and we must confront reality on this issue. Our discomfort must spark a desire not to look away but to combat this hatred and, whenever possible, to prevent its progression to violence.  While only a few examples have been shared here, the full report — and future reports — can be found online at www.TheHaterNextDoor.com.

We often hear that hateful postings appear only on fringe sites that few people see. Why does it matter, and what can be done?

It matters because history has taught that racism and anti-Semitism may begin in sporadic, disorganized and seemingly marginal form, but when ignored, it finds the space and power needed to grow into a threatening phenomenon. This is the lesson of the path to the Holocaust — and this phenomenon is still present in nascent form every time hate is transmitted from one individual to another online. If the rest of us simply stand by, the potential threat of this evil becomes exponential through the vast reach of the internet.

As for what can be done, we must face online incitement head-on. We must act to expose these venomous forms of hatred aimed in firehose fashion at every group imaginable. This is the reality of our 21st century.

For all the marvels made possible by the digital revolution, it also is beyond argument that the internet has empowered evil. Age-old hatreds have been married to the most modern means of communication, making them only a click away with a phone, tablet or laptop.   

In releasing The Hater Next Door, we commit to combating hate online in all of its manifestations, in defense of all people, whoever they are, however they live, and however they worship. We urge other individuals and organizations to join us in this fight against the online incitement to violence.

The Hater Next Door : Online Incitement Against Minorities in America

Today, the Lantos Foundation and the Middle East Media Institute (MEMRI) published a report entitled The Hater Next Door: Online Incitement Against Minorities in America. This truly horrifying report examines online hatred and incitement in the United States between November 2018 and February 2019 against minority communities including Jews, People of Color, LGBTQ and others.  

The report exposes the vicious reality of online hatred that is thriving within our own borders, fueled by neo-Nazis, white supremacists, racists and fascists that are not only fellow Americans, but are very often members of our own communities. Unlike generations past, these haters next door can easily hide behind fringe websites and online personas while indulging their most vile impulses with the miracle of the modern Internet. This exponential threat is multiplied when the means for further hate and incitement rests neatly at one’s fingertips via their phone or laptop.

“This report shines a very bright light on the hatred that lurks right in own backyard. As a nation, we must confront and expose this evil in order to prevent future tragedies; so many recent mass tragedies, like the mosques in New Zealand or the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, start online well before any shots are taken. By exposing these Haters Next Door, we seek to empower digital first-responders to take timely action to save lives,” said Lantos Foundation President, Katrina Lantos Swett. “We encourage leaders in the media, policy, and technology spaces to join us in recognizing, exposing, and confronting these age old evils in their modern day forms.”

The report can be found at www.thehaternextdoor.com.

The Noble Banner of Human Rights: Essays in Memory of Tom Lantos

In October 2018, The Noble Banner of Human Rights: Essays in Memory of Tom Lantos was published as a joint project between the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights & Justice and the Budapest-based Tom Lantos Institute. When Congressman Tom Lantos passed away in 2008, he left behind a legacy both as the only survivor of the Holocaust to serve in Congress and as a champion of human rights who founded the Congressional Human Rights Caucus (re-established after his passing as the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission). This book, published ten years after his passing, not only provides a powerful overview of the late Congressman Lantos’s personal and professional history, but specifically focuses on the human rights issues that defined his career and provides an academic update on a number of issues he championed during his congressional tenure. 

The US launch of The Noble Banner of Human Rights was celebrated March 6th, 2019 in Washington, DC. Among the many guests, the Lantos Foundation was proud to be joined by newly appointed Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat anti-Semitism, Elan Carr, Anna-Maria Biro of the TLI, Budapest, book contributor Ambassador Robert King, Congressman Jim McGovern, Lantos Prize recipient Rebiya Kadeer, Senator Maggie Hassan, Congressman Chris Pappas, and Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Russia’s Unconscionable Attack on the Conscience Rights of Jehovah’s Witnesses

Oryol Court, 2/6/19. Image courtesy of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Oryol Court, 2/6/19. Image courtesy of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Two days ago, Dennis Christensen, a Danish Jehovah’s Witness, was sentenced to six years in prison by a Russian Court for the “crime” of peacefully and faithfully living out his beliefs. This outrageous conviction of an innocent man is the most egregious recent example of Russia’s aggressive attacks against the internationally protected right of freedom of religion, conscience, and belief. Jehovah’s Witnesses have been targeted by the Russian government and their members have been branded as “extremists” simply for practicing their faith.

Lantos Foundation President, Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett, issued the following statement:

“We call upon the Court of Appeals in Russia to overturn this disgraceful conviction and to release Dennis Christensen immediately. This entire prosecution was a travesty of justice from start to finish. Jehovah’s Witnesses are known the world over to be a peaceful, generous, and law-abiding community of believers and their persecution by the Russian state is outrageous. Russia must respect international law and protect the religious freedom rights of all its residents.”

Lantos Foundation Statement on Appointment of Special Envoy to Combat Anti-Semitism

The Lantos Foundation applauds the appointment of Elan Carr as the new Special Envoy to Combat Anti-Semitism.  After nearly two years of calls to fill this vital role from our foundation and others deeply connected to the Jewish community, we are hopeful that Mr. Carr’s appointment signals that the United States will once again actively engage in combating this evil bigotry and promote its critical importance as a key priority of our foreign policy. Political extremists from both the left and right have been mainstreaming anti-Semitism around the world, and it is beyond time for a strong voice of condemnation from the United States.

Congressman Tom Lantos, the only survivor of the Holocaust ever to serve in Congress, played the key role in establishing the post of Special Envoy because he understood from personal experience how essential it is for the United States to lead on this issue. Mr. Carr brings not only his impressive professional background, but also his deeply felt personal experience with anti-Semitism to bear in this important fight. The Lantos Foundation congratulates Mr. Carr on his appointment and we stand ready to offer our assistance as he fulfills this important mission.  

RealClear World : The Best Power Play Is to Take a Stand for Human Rights by Katrina Lantos Swett


“A dangerous shift is taking place in American politics, threatening decades of consensus and a history that stretches back to our Founding Fathers. It is a shift away from a foreign policy that prioritizes human rights and fundamental freedoms, and toward a cold, calculating politics of power and realpolitik. “