Judge Thomas Buergenthal, Honorary President of our Advisory Council, has Passed away


We mourn the loss of our Advisory Council’s Honorary President, Judge Thomas Buergenthal, who passed away, on Monday, 29 May 2023, at the age of 89 years. Judge Thomas Buergenthal supported the creation of the Nuremberg Academy from the very beginning. He became the first President of the Advisory Council and, from 2016 to the present, its Honorary President. Director Professor Dr Christoph Safferling expressed, on behalf of the entire team of the Academy, sincere condolences to his wife Peggy and the whole family.

Thomas Buergenthal lived an outstanding life with extraordinary achievements by being an inspiring, open, friendly and warm personality who deserves the highest respect and who will be deeply missed.

Although Thomas Buergenthal and his family were deported and his father was killed in Buchenwald he overcame his desire for vengeance to deal with this past by a rule of law approach, which he transmitted to his students all over the world.

„The past is always there, and the past is very important also in my work, as a judge and as a professor. I could have gone to Wall Street and become very rich, but for me the riches were to be able to work in this field.“ (Thomas Buergenthal in “Peace Through Justice”)

With the documentary “Peace Through Justice” the Nuremberg Academy honoured the legacy of this exceptional life and work. Several screenings took place in Europe and the United States, mostly with panel discussions – two of them with participation of Judge Buergenthal himself: the screening at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, in 2019, and the live online event together with Deputy Director Dr Viviane Dittrich, in 2021.

Thomas Buergenthal was born 1934 in Lubochna, former Czechoslovakia. As a child, he was deported to Auschwitz and liberated at the age of eleven. He emigrated to the US, where he made an extraordinary career in international law. As a professor, he was a pioneer in the field of International Human Rights Law. In addition, he served as a judge on many international courts, including the International Court of Justice, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the United Nations Truth Commission for El Salvador and the UN Human Rights Committee.

Thomas Buergenthal died on 29 May in Miami, USA.