Benjamin Ferencz, the last of the Nuremberg prosecutors, died at 103
Steph Deschamps / April 9, 2023
The American Benjamin Ferencz, who was the last of the prosecutors of the Nuremberg trials, died at the age of 103 years after a life dedicated to international justice, his son announced Saturday to AFP.
He died "peacefully in his sleep" Friday night in a Florida nursing home "of natural causes," said Donald Ferencz.
"If my father could have made one last statement, I'm sure he would have said: law, not war," he added.
Only 27 years old, Benjamin Ferencz had led the prosecution for the United States in the 1947 Einsatzgruppen trial. Twenty-two leaders of these mobile extermination units, which followed the German advance in Eastern Europe, were convicted after the extent of their crimes was exposed.
Based on Nazi archives, Mr. Ferencz estimated the number of victims of this "Shoah by bullets" at more than one million Jewish men, women and children.
Born in the Carpathian Mountains to Jewish parents, he took refuge in the United States at the age of 10 months and studied law at the prestigious Harvard University.
Mobilized during World War II, he was first deployed to the battlefields of Europe before being assigned to gather evidence of Nazi crimes.
In a book published in 1988, he explained that he was forever marked by the liberation of the death camps. "I can never forget the deadly sight of the crematoria (...) and the emaciated bodies piled up like firewood," he wrote.
Upon his return to civilian life, he was recruited to work on the U.S. prosecution team in Nuremberg, a city in Bavaria where the Allies tried Nazi crimes in 13 trials, laying the groundwork for an international criminal justice system.