"I Am The Last Surviving Prosecutor of the Nuremberg Trials"
Patriots and national heroes come in all sizes, shapes, colors, and ages.
Benjamin Ferencz, a lawyer and WWII veteran, doesn't fit the everyday mold of a seasoned war veteran.
His life story starts out rather ordinary, quite like other stories of early 1900 immigrant families arriving on the shores of our great nation seeking freedom and opportunity. He entered the Army in 1941 as did thousands of young men. Although the horrors of war are never routine, initially Benjamin's assignments overseas during WWII were routine for the day.
He was surprised when shortly after the war ended, being favorably discharged from the Army, he was contacted to re-enlist as a lawyer in the WWII tribunals known the world over today as the Nuremberg Trials: CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY.
"The officer said "We need you now, you have the academic background, you have a Harvard, you know honors and all that." He said, "But I've um checking on your military record and I find that you're occasionally insubordinate." I said that is not correct sir, I am not occasionally insubordinate, I'm usually insubordinate. I never obey an order that I know is illegal."
Just after that encounter, Benjamin became the chief prosecutor of the largest murder trial in human history.
Here is a (15-minute) video clip of Benjamin describing his early life with brief recall of his recruitment as a Nuremberg Trial Prosecutor:
In the short interview there is a historic video clip of his opening statement recorded live at the Nuremberg Trial (at 10-minute mark). This is the quote:
"I accused 22 defendants, selected by me on the basis of their education, many of them had PhD, one had a double doctorate, and they were ranked generals and colonels of the SS. And accused them of the calculating murder of over a million men, women and children.
That was my first case, I had never been in a court room in my life. I arrested my case in two days, I convicted all of them.
We asked the court to affirm by international law, the right of all people to live in peace and human dignity, regardless of their race or creed.
That was my opening paragraph in the trial. And I got that from the judges we have. What is more important is to prevent it from happening again. And I've been working on that for the rest of my life. And it's very hard to do.
It's three words: Law. Not War.
If you can do that you save every day billions of dollars, which you can use to deal with the legitimate complaints of all people who need medical care students who have to pay for the tuition, all the legitimate complaints which could be solved if we didn't spend the money on weapons to kill them, instead of helping them and that is the current system. Now how you're going to do it. I will end by telling you how to do it.
And the principle which has guided me is three principles, #1, never give up, #2, never give up #3, I will never give up.
Good luck. I wish you the best of luck."
"Ben Ferencz has helped to define international criminal law and has been and continues to be one of the most effective change makers in the pursuit of justice." Dr. Friedberg
Benjamin Ferencz is now 101 years old, still bright, capable, and very coherent.
He gives a brilliant longer interview in the following video. The details he recounts about his life as a WWII veteran are striking as he describes what he saw and did while enmeshed in the war itself and later as the lead prosecutor in the second part of the tribunal trials in Germany after the war ended.
Quite a fascinating man.
Quite a fascinating story.
Quite a fascinating history.
Quite a possibility world history may be repeating itself soon.
The Last Living Nuremberg Prosecutor: Ben Ferencz 75 Years Later
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum on YouTube
Published Nov 19, 2020
51:56 viewing length
At age 27, in his first turn as a prosecutor, Benjamin Ferencz led what was then called "the biggest murder trial in history." On behalf of the US government, he won guilty verdicts against 22 Nazi leaders of mass shooting operations that murdered over a million Jews.
The Nuremberg Trials, which began 75 years ago this month, aimed to achieve a measure of justice for the unimaginable scale of Holocaust and war crimes. Ben, now 100, has devoted his life to pursuing peace, demanding justice for victims, and preventing genocide. Learn Ben's inspiring story and why his motto is: "Never give up."
Speaker Benjamin Ferencz, last living Nuremberg prosecutor
Moderator Dr. Edna Friedberg, Historian, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
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