It is with deep sadness that the Nuremberg Academy learnt of the passing of Benjamin "Ben" Ferencz, former prosecutor of the Nuremberg trials, on Friday, 7 April 2023, at the age of 103 years. Director Professor Dr Christoph Safferling expressed, on behalf of the entire team of the Academy, sincere condolences to the Ferencz family.
With Ben Ferencz, the world not only loses the last prosecutor of the Nuremberg trials, but above all an extraordinary person who will be sorely missed. His lifetime achievement deserves the highest respect. We are glad, as Deputy Director Dr Viviane Dittrich pointed out, for all the occasions we could share with Ben Ferencz, not least thanks to his active involvement in events of the Nuremberg Academy. The Academy particularly remembers that on the very day of his 101st birthday it was important to Ben to participate live on in our online event in his honour.
The passion with which he tirelessly campaigned for the rule of law and against war, in keeping with his motto "Law not war", made him a role model across generations. We will honour his memory and continue to promote and advance modern international criminal law worldwide as a legacy of the Nuremberg trials.
Ben Ferencz was born in Transylvania in 1920 and emigrated later with his family to the United States. He graduated from Harvard Law School. In 1944, he landed as a soldier with the Allied troops at Normandy. He was entrusted with securing evidence on Nazi war crimes, contributing to the preparation of the Nuremberg trials. For the Nuremberg Einsatzgruppen trial in 1947/48, Ferencz was appointed US chief prosecutor. After the end of the Nuremberg trials, he worked for many years for victims' associations of Holocaust survivors. For decades, he strongly advocated the idea and establishment of a permanent International Criminal Court to prosecute crimes under international criminal law, which finally began its work in The Hague in 2002.