The last living prosecutor of the nuremberg trials -the trials against a group of high Nazi war criminals-, the American lawyer Ben Ferencz, has passed away this Saturday at the age of 103, as reported by his son to NBC News. Ferencz was the last living prosecutor from the trials that marked the first time in history that serial killers were prosecuted for war crimes.
They convicted 22 Nazi death squad commanders after World War II. At the time he was just 27 years old and in his later career he played a crucial role in obtaining compensation for Holocaust survivors and the creation of the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
A tireless defender of human rights, he also wrote nine books and dozens of articles, delivered countless speeches, and traveled the world until he was 90 years old spreading his motto of “law, not war.” The New York lawyer, who turned 103 on March 11, was educated at Harvard and came from a family of Hungarian Jews.
“Today the world lost a leader in the search for justice for the victims of genocide“said the US Holocaust Museum confirming his death.
Ferenz described Buchenwald – one of the largest concentration camps in Germany – as a “charnel house of unspeakable horrors”. “There is no doubt that I was forever traumatized by my experiences as a war crimes investigator in Nazi death camps,” he wrote. “I still try not to talk or think about the details.”
After World War II, Ferenz returned to New York to practice as a lawyer, but was recruited soon after to try Nazis at the Nuremberg trials, despite having no prior trial experience. He was appointed chief prosecutor in the trials of members of the Einsatzgruppen, the mobile SS death squads that operated within Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe and are estimated to have murdered more than a million people.