Benjamin "Ben" Ferencz celebrates his 100th birthday today. The International Nuremberg Principles Academy sends its heartfelt congratulation wishing him good health and that his enthusiasm remains unbroken.
Ben Ferencz is one of the most important lawyers and specialist in international criminal law after the Second World War. Today he is the last living prosecutor of the Nuremberg trials. While only 27 years old, he became the chief prosecutor in the “Einsatzgruppen case”, which took place in Nuremberg from 1947 to 1948. In this "biggest murder trial in history”, 24 SS officers were charged with mass murders in the Soviet Union. All of the accused were found guilty, 14 sentenced to death.
After initially serving in an anti-aircraft artillery unit in the Second World War, he was assigned to a new war-crimes branch at the end of 1944. He was present at the liberation of several concentration camps, where he eye-witnessed the abominations and the suffering of the prisoners with and secured the evidence of the Nazi crimes committed there.
Moved by the horrors of the Holocaust and the Second World War, Ben Ferencz has continued to push the international community to commit to the rule of law. The passionate dedication to the Nuremberg Principles, tirelessly expressed in his slogan “law not war”, has shaped his long career. After the end of the Nuremberg trials, he worked for many years for victims' associations of Holocaust survivors. During decades, he was a tireless advocate of the idea and the creation of a permanent criminal court with worldwide jurisdiction to punish war crimes and crimes against humanity. The International Criminal Court finally started operating in The Hague in 2002. On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Rome Statute, Ben Ferencz sent a special video message to the participants of the Nuremberg Forum 2018, which was screened on 19 October 2018 in historic Courtroom 600 of the Nuremberg Palace of Justice. In his message, he urged the audience to follow his maxim in the fight for justice: "Never give up!"