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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Tom Lantos Dies at 80 of Cancer

WASHINGTON -- Representative Tom Lantos, who as a teenager twice escaped from a Nazi-run forced labor camp in Hungary and became the only Holocaust survivor to win a seat in the U.S. Congress, has died. He was 80.

Lantos earned a name in Russia with criticism of its human rights record and calls for its removal from the Group of Eight, only to surprise Moscow last year with comments that the relationship between the two countries was in for a "historic" and "positive" change. The comments came on his assumption of the chairmanship of the House International Relations Committee.

Lantos, a Democrat, disclosed last month that he had been diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus. He said at the time that he would serve out his 14th term but would not seek re-election in his northern California district, which includes part of San Francisco.

Lantos, who referred to himself as "an American by choice," was born to Jewish parents in Budapest, Hungary, and was 16 when Adolf Hitler occupied Hungary in 1944. He survived by escaping from the labor camp and coming under the protection of Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who used his official status and visa-issuing powers to save thousands of Hungarian Jews.

Lantos' mother and much of his family perished in the Holocaust.