Ben Ferencz, the last living prosecutor from the Nuremberg trials, died at an assisted living facility in Boynton Beach. Ferencz was a former prosecutor who secured convictions against 22 Nazi death squad commanders, and was 103 years old at the time of his death.
At 27 years old, Ferencz played a crucial role in securing compensation for Holocaust survivors and creating the International Criminal Court at The Hague. He was the chief prosecutor in the trial of the Einsatzgruppen, the Nazi killing squads assigned to murder Jews and others deemed “inferior.” Ferencz gathered evidence of Nazi crimes, such as death registries that contained victims’ names, at concentration camps.
Recognition and Honors
U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, D-Fla., introduced a bipartisan bill to award Ferencz the Congressional Medal, which is Congress’ highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions by individuals or institutions. In January 2023, Frankel was at a ceremony honoring him in Delray Beach, where his son accepted the medal on behalf of his father, who was bedridden.
In 2022, Governor Ron DeSantis awarded the governor’s medal of freedom to Ferencz. A street was named in his honor at Canyon District Park in west Boynton Beach, and Palm Beach County commissioners declared February 5, 2021, as “Benjamin Ferencz Law Not War Day.”
Sharyn Bey, a friend who spent nearly a decade filming him for historic archives and speaking engagements, said, “That stuff is archival, it’s not going away. What needs to be done is, this wave of racism that our country is enduring right now, it needs to be met. It needs to be met with the truth.”
Ferencz is survived by his four children. His wife, Gertrude, died in 2019, his website states.
Ferencz’s Early Life
Ferencz was born in 1920 to Hungarian Jews and was 10 months old when his family immigrated to the United States and settled in New York City. After he graduated from Harvard University, Ferencz fought in a U.S. Army artillery unit during World War II. He earned several medals and participated in battles that included D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge.
Benjamin Ferencz was born on this day in 1920. Here he is in March 2023 reminding us to "Do something you love." Let's wish Ben a happy birthday!
As a present, please share some of Ben's stories with someone in your life: https://t.co/RbhAMS5f1k#LawNotWar
– @danielrskinner pic.twitter.com/pD8OjIx0e6
— Benjamin Ferencz (legacy) (@BenFerencz) March 11, 2023