Ben Ferencz, the final residing prosecutor from the Nuremberg trials, who tried Nazis for genocidal war crimes and was among the many first exterior witnesses to doc the atrocities of Nazi labor and focus camps, has died. He had simply turned 103 in March.
Ferencz died Friday night in Boynton Seaside, Florida, based on St. John’s College regulation professor John Barrett, who runs a weblog concerning the Nuremberg trials. The loss of life additionally was confirmed by the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington.
“In the present day the world misplaced a frontrunner within the quest for justice for victims of genocide and associated crimes,” the museum tweeted.
Born in Transylvania in 1920, Ferencz immigrated as a really younger boy along with his dad and mom to New York to flee rampant antisemitism. After graduating from Harvard Legislation College, Ferencz joined the U.S. Army in time to participate within the Normandy invasion throughout World Struggle II. Utilizing his authorized background, he turned an investigator of Nazi battle crimes in opposition to U.S. troopers as a part of a brand new Struggle Crimes Part of the Choose Advocate’s Workplace.
When U.S. intelligence stories described troopers encountering giant teams of ravenous individuals in Nazi camps watched over by SS guards, Ferencz adopted up with visits, first on the Ohrdruf labor camp in Germany after which on the infamous Buchenwald focus camp. At these camps and later others, he discovered our bodies “piled up like cordwood” and “helpless skeletons with diarrhea, dysentery, typhus, TB, pneumonia, and different illnesses, retching of their louse ridden bunks or on the bottom with solely their pathetic eyes pleading for assist,” Ferencz wrote in an account of his life.
“The Buchenwald focus camp was a charnel home of indescribable horrors,” Ferencz wrote. “There isn’t a doubt that I used to be indelibly traumatized by my experiences as a war crimes investigator of Nazi extermination facilities. I nonetheless strive to not discuss or take into consideration the small print.”
At one level towards the tip of the battle, Ferencz was despatched to Adolf Hitler’s mountain retreat within the Bavarian Alps to seek for incriminating paperwork however got here again empty-handed.
After the battle, Ferencz was honorably discharged from the U.S. Military and returned to New York to start working towards regulation. However that was short-lived. Due to his experiences as a battle crimes investigator, he was recruited to assist prosecute Nazi battle criminals on the Nuremberg trials, which had begun under the leadership of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson. Earlier than leaving for Germany, he married his childhood sweetheart, Gertrude.
On the age of 27, with no earlier trial expertise, Ferencz turned chief prosecutor for a 1947 case by which 22 former commanders have been charged with murdering over 1 million Jews, Romani and different enemies of the Third Reich in Jap Europe. Relatively than relying on witnesses, Ferencz principally relied on official German paperwork to make his case. All of the defendants have been convicted, and greater than a dozen have been sentenced to loss of life by hanging although Ferencz hadn’t requested for the loss of life penalty.
“At first of April 1948, when the lengthy authorized judgment was learn, I felt vindicated,” he wrote. “Our pleas to guard humanity by the rule of regulation had been upheld.”
With the battle crimes trials winding down, Ferencz went to work for a consortium of Jewish charitable teams to assist Holocaust survivors regain properties, properties, companies, artwork works, Torah scrolls, and different Jewish spiritual objects that had been confiscated from them by the Nazis. He additionally later assisted in negotiations that will result in compensation to the Nazi victims.
In later a long time, Ferencz championed the creation of a world court docket which might prosecute any government’s leaders for war crimes. These desires have been realized in 2002 with institution of the Worldwide Felony Court docket in The Hague, although its effectiveness has been restricted by the failure of nations like the US to take part.
Ferencz is survived by a son and three daughters. His spouse died in 2019.