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November 18, 2021 6:11 pm

US House Reps Introduce Bill to Honor 101-Year-Old Nuremberg Trials Prosecutor With Congressional Gold Medal

avatar by Sharon Wrobel

Ben Ferencz, the lead prosecutor in the Nuremberg Trials that followed World War II. Photo: Screenshot

A group of House members led by Rep. Lois Frankel (D-FL) introduced a bipartisan bill on Thursday to award Benjamin Ferencz — the last living Nuremberg prosecutor — with Congress’ highest civilian honor, for his continued support as an advocate of international law after the Second World War.

The bill to award the 101-year-old Ferencz with a Congressional Gold Medal, marking the 86th anniversary of the Nuremberg trials, is co-sponsored by House Representatives Joe Wilson (R-SC), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Jim McGovern (D-MA), and Chris Smith (R-NJ).

“From his military service during World War II, to his role as chief prosecutor in a trial that brought 22 Nazi officials to justice, Ben Ferencz has led a remarkable life dedicated to the pursuit of justice,” said Frankel. “It’s my hope that this award reminds us all of the importance of always taking a stand and doing the right thing, and helps us keep the horrors of the Holocaust from fading from our collective memory.”

Ferencz served in the US army during World War II and helped collect evidence of Nazi war crimes against humanity. A Harvard Law School graduate, Ferencz was recruited for the Nuremberg war crimes trials in around 1945. At 27 years old, he was appointed chief prosecutor for the Unites States in the Einsatztruppen trial that convicted 22 former Nazi Schutzstaffel (SS) officials for their roles in the murder of over a million people. All of the defendants were convicted, and thirteen were sentenced to death.

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“As part of the effective prosecutorial team at the Nuremburg Trials, Benjamin Ferencz helped ensure that those who committed unspeakable heinous crimes in Nazi Germany were held to account,” said Rep. Smith. “His remarkable work to expose the truth of the Holocaust helped build the foundation on which we continue to fight antisemitism in all of its ugly pernicious forms.”

Over the past decades, Ferencz has been an advocate for the rule of law and international justice, and fought for the establishment of the International Criminal Court.

“At a time when national surveys show more and more young Americans know less and less about the Holocaust, as antisemitic incidents are on the rise, and as we lose the last generation of first-hand witnesses of the horrors of World War II, I can think of no better individual to receive this honor and no better moment for him to receive it,” said Rep. Deutch.

“The words ‘never again’ do not simply mean learning the facts of what happened. They require each of us to take action to prevent other atrocities, and Ben Ferencz’s lifetime of remarkable achievement shows his dedication to that work.”

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