Ben Ferencz, the last surviving prosecutor from the Nuremberg trials in Germany, has died at the age of 103.
Mr. Ferencz was an inexperienced 27-year-old when he became US attorney general, tasked with trying 22 military officers from Einsatzgruppen.
Mobile Kill Squad is part of it GermanyIn 1947, these officers were accused by Nazi forces of killing more than 1 million Jews, Gypsies and other minorities in Eastern Europe during World War II.
In his opening statement, Mr. Ferencz said: “We are here to reveal the deliberate massacre of more than a million innocent and defenseless men, women and children, which gives us both sadness and hope.
“This is a tragic realization of the plans of intolerance and arrogance.
“Revenge is not our goal, nor do we simply seek just revenge.
“We ask this Court to affirm, through international criminal proceedings, the rights of all human beings, regardless of their race or creed, to live in peace and dignity.
“The case we’ve made is a plea of humanity against the law.”
People ‘condemned in Nazi ideology’
He told the court that officers methodically carried out long-term plans to wipe out racial, ethnic, political and religious groups “condemned in the minds of the Nazis”.
“Genocide – the extermination of the entire human category – was the most important tool of the Nazi doctrine.”
All defendants were convicted and 13 were sentenced to hang, although Mr. Ferencz did not call for the death penalty.
“An Insight into the Mindset of a Mass Murderer”
Born in Romania in 1920, Mr. Ferencz was 10 months old when his family moved to the United States.
After graduating from Harvard Law School in 1943, he enlisted and fought in Europe before joining the army’s new war crimes unit.
“They murdered more than a million people in cold blood, including hundreds of thousands of children, and I wondered how educated people – many of them with PhDs or who were generals in the German army – not only tolerated but led and commit such a horrific crime.”
“The next war will make the last war look like child’s play”
Later, Mr. Ferencz worked for Jewish charities helping Holocaust survivors recapture property, businesses, religious objects and other assets stolen by the Nazis.
He also advocated the creation of an international criminal court — which was eventually established in 2002 and is currently based in The Hague, Netherlands, albeit without the participation of some major powers such as the United States.
Mr Ferencz has criticized his country’s actions in wars, particularly in Vietnam, saying in 2018: “The reason I continue to spend most of my time preventing wars is that I realize that the next war will make the last one look worse. Sounds like a child’s war game.”
Mr. Ferencz died Saturday in Boynton Beach, Florida.
His wife Gertrude died in 2019, but he is survived by a son and three daughters.