Nuremberg Trials prosecutor dies at 103
Benjamin Ferencz, the last of the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials prosecutors has died in south Florida at the age of 103.
I met Mr. Ferencz several times. He was a dynamic speaker. I telephoned him a few years ago to invite him to address our shul. We spoke extensively. He couldn’t join us as his wife was ill.
Speaking with Mr. Ferencz was like touching history. He was part of a group of extraordinary American (and other) prosecutors, including Telford Taylor who expertly and incisively articulated the goals of the trials. They knew they were speaking to future generations as well as calling the individual perpetrators to account.
Mr. Ferencz was 27 at the time. He relied on the Germans’ own captured documents as he methodically built his case. Not lost on the world was the irony of a Jew prosecuting Nazis.
My parents, their family and friends were Holocaust survivors yet in all the years of listening to them talk about post-war Europe, I never heard any of them say a word about the Nuremberg trials going on at the very same time, a 155 miles northwest of their Displaced Persons camp in Pocking, Germany. My dad may even have traveled to Nuremberg with the US Army officers he drove. He never mentioned it. My aunt and uncle lived in Nuremberg until 1956 when they immigrated to America. My uncle’s brother and business partner managed their toy factory in Nuremberg until the 1990’s when they sold it. We never discussed it.
All I can think of is that they may have 1) wanted to distance themselves from the trials due to the trauma they experienced and desire to normalize and rebuilt their lives 2) looked at them cynically as being too late or 3) wanted to protect us.
Benjamin Ferencz spoke for them.
May his name be remembered for a blessing.