Benjamin Ferencz

Prosecutor in the Einsatzgruppen Trial

Benjamin Berell Ferencz was born in 1920 in a small village in Transylvania. Due to the increasing persecution of the Jewish population there, his parents decided to emigrate to America. Benjamin Ferencz grew up in New York and later studied at Harvard Law School. Already at the end of his studies, Benjamin Ferencz dealt with the legal prosecution of war crimes. After he joined the U.S. military during World War II, his superiors took notice of the lawyer and he was eventually ordered to set up a department that would advance the search for evidence of war crimes committed by the Germans. Shortly after the end of the war and a brief return to the United States, Benjamin Ferencz returned to Germany as an investigator for the new chief prosecutor at Nuremberg, Telford Taylor, to search for evidence of war crimes. Following the discovery of the Einsatzgruppen reports, Benjamin Ferencz was appointed chief prosecutor in the Einsatzgruppen trial at the age of 27.

After the Nuremberg Trials, Benjamin Ferencz actively lobbied for progress in the establishment of what is now the International Criminal Court in The Hague. During the opening of the first case of the prosecution in The Hague in January 2009, he made it clear that the work of the International Criminal Court follows a direct line of tradition with the Nuremberg Trials. The immense significance of the Nuremberg Trials and the lessons from them was also emphasized by Benjamin Ferencz in November 2010 at the opening ceremony of the Memorium Nuremberg Trials, which he accompanied as a keynote speaker.

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