Ben Ferencz is the last Nuremberg prosecutor alive: “War makes murderers of decent people. All wars and all people.”

Benjamin Ferencz


On Christmas 1945, Ferencz was honorably discharged from the Army with the rank of Sergeant. He returned to New York, but was recruited only a few weeks later to participate as a prosecutor in the Subsequent Nuremberg Trials in the legal team of Telford Taylor. Taylor appointed him Chief Prosecutor in the Einsatzgruppen Case—Ferencz’s first case. All of the 22 men on trial were convicted; 13 of them received death sentences, of which four were eventually carried out.

In a 2005 interview for The Washington Post, Ferencz revealed some of his activities during his period in Germany by way of showing how different military legal norms were at the time:

Someone who was not there could never really grasp how unreal the situation was … I once saw DPs beat an SS man and then strap him to the steel gurney of a crematorium. They slid him in the oven, turned on the heat and took him back out. Beat him again, and put him back in until he was burnt alive. I did nothing to stop it. I suppose I could have brandished my weapon or shot in the air, but I was not inclined to do so. Does that make me an accomplice to murder?
You know how I got witness statements? I’d go into a village where, say, an American pilot had parachuted and been beaten to death and line everyone one up against the wall. Then I’d say, “Anyone who lies will be shot on the spot.” It never occurred to me that statements taken under duress would be invalid.

Ferencz stayed in Germany after the Nuremberg Trials, together with his wife Gertrude, whom he had married in New York on March 31, 1946. Together with Kurt May and others, he participated in the setup of reparation and rehabilitation programs for the victims of persecutions by the Nazis, and also had a part in the negotiations that led to the Reparations Agreement between Israel and West Germany signed on September 10, 1952 and the first German Restitution Law in 1953. In 1956, the family—they had four children by then—returned to the U.S., where Ferencz entered private law practice as a partner of Telford Taylor.—Wikipedia

2 thoughts on “Ben Ferencz is the last Nuremberg prosecutor alive: “War makes murderers of decent people. All wars and all people.”

  1. Two readers here believe believe that liberals are too quick to forgive and forget.
    The point is to r e m e m b e r.


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