Ben Ferencz, the last surviving prosecutor from the post-World War Two Nuremberg trials, passed away on Friday evening at an assisted living facility in Boynton Beach, Florida, stated a BBC report. He was 103.
Ferencz was a leading advocate for international justice, having secured the convictions of 22 Nazi officers for war crimes and crimes against humanity at the age of 27.
Early Life and Career
Born in Transylvania, Romania, in 1920, Ferencz's family immigrated to the US when he was young to escape antisemitism. After graduating from Harvard Law School in 1943, he enlisted in the US Army and took part in the Allied landings at Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge.
Prosecuting Nazi War Criminals
After the war, Ferencz returned to New York to practice law. Shortly afterwards, he was recruited to help prosecute Nazis at the Nuremberg trials, despite having no prior trial experience.
He was made chief prosecutor at the trial of members of the Einsatzgruppen, mobile SS death squads that operated within Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe and are estimated to have murdered more than a million people. All 22 men on trial were convicted, with 13 of them receiving death sentences and four ultimately being executed.
Advocating for International Justice
In his later years, Ferencz became a professor of international law and campaigned for an international court that could prosecute the leaders of governments found to have committed war crimes.
He wrote several books on the subject and advocated for the establishment of the International Criminal Court, which was set up in The Hague, Netherlands in 2002. However, the effectiveness of the court has been limited by the refusal of several major countries, including the US, to take part.
Ferencz is survived by a son and three daughters. His wife, Gertrude Fried, passed away in 2019.
Ferencz's lifelong work in the pursuit of justice for victims of genocide and war crimes is a testament to his dedication to humanity. As the last surviving prosecutor of the Nuremberg trials, his legacy will be remembered as a pivotal figure in shaping the modern concept of international justice.
The US Holocaust Museum acknowledged his contribution to the quest for justice for victims of genocide and war crimes. His passing marks the end of an era, but his dedication to justice and humanitarianism will continue to inspire generations to come.
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