Benjamin Ferencz, Champion of World Law, Leave a Strong Heritage on Which To Build.
Featured Image: Prosecutor Benjamin Ferencz at the Einsatzgruppen Trial in Nuremberg. Ferencz was a civilian employee with the OCCWC, thus the picture showing him in civilian clothes. The Einsatzgruppen Trial (or „United States vs. Otto Ohlendorf et al“) lasted from September 1947 unitl April 1948. By US Army photographer on behalf of the OCCWC/IMT, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Benjamin Ferencz, champion of World Law and World Citizen, died on 7 April 2023 at the age of 103, leaving a strong heritage of action for world law. He was particularly active in the creation of the International Criminal Court located in the Hague.
He was born in March 1920 in what is now Romania, close to the frontiers of Hungery and Ukraine. In the troubled period after the end of the First World War, the parents of Ferencz who were Jewish decided to emmigrate to New York with the help of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society. They settled in New York City, and Ferencz changed his Yiddish name Berrel to Benjamin and studied in the New York school system. He did his undergraduate work at City College and then received a scholarship to Harvard Law School, a leading U.S. law school.
The Judge-Advocate General Corps.
At the end of his law studies at Harvard, he was taken into the U.S. Army and in 1944, he was in Europe with the Army legal section, the Judge-Advocate General Corps. By conviction and interest, he began to collect information on the Nazi concentration camps. He was able to find photos, letters, and other material that he later was able to use as one of the prosecution team in the Nuremberg trials of Germans accused of war crimes. He was also a staff member of the Joint Restitution Successor Organization concerned with the restoration or compensation of goods having belonged to Jewish families. Thus, he developed close cooperation with the then recently created state of Israel.
Much of his effort was directed to the creation of the International Criminal Court.
From his experiences with the German trials and the many difficulties that the trials posed to be more than the justice of the victors and also the need not to antagonize the recently created Federal Republic of Germany, Ferencz became a strong advocate of an international legal system such as the Tribunals on Ex-Yugoslavia of 1993 and that of Rwanda (1994). Much of his effort was directed to the creation of the International Criminal Court, a creation that ows much to efforts of non-governmental organizations, such as the Association of World Citizens. It was during this effort for the creation of the International Criminal Court that we came into contact.
Benjamin Ferencz leaves a heritage on which we can build. The development of world law is often slow and meets opposition. However, the need is great, and strong efforts at both national and international levels continue.
Benjamin Ferencz – Chief Prosecutor in 1947 Einsatzgruppen Trial – In Courtroom 600 Where Nuremberg Trials Were Held – Palace of Justice – Nuremberg-Nurnberg – Germany (2012). Adam Jones, Ph.D., CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.
René Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.