News item | 11-04-2023
At the age of 103, Benjamin Ferencz (1920-2023) has died. Ferencz was the last living prosecutor of the Nuremberg Trials. He became chief prosecutor at the age of 27 in one of the twelve so-called follow-up trials in which war criminals of the Second World War were prosecuted. Benjamin Ferencz, whose motto was ‘Law, not war’, spent his entire career advocating for the rule of law.
After World War II, 24 leading figures of the Nazi regime stood trial in Nuremberg, Germany. This trial began on 20 November 1945 and was led by the four major Allies: the Soviet Union, United States, France and the United Kingdom. They had specially established an international military tribunal. On 30 September and 1 October 1946, the verdicts were handed down at the Nuremberg Trials. The sentences ranged from death to life imprisonment, and three acquittals. The Nuremberg Trials are considered as the birth of international criminal law.
The International Court of Justice (ICJ), which is housed at the Peace Palace, is the official custodian of the Nuremberg Military Tribunal archives. The files were taken to the Peace Palace in 1950.
Benjamin Ferencz dedicated his life to the rule of law and also advocated for the establishment of the International Criminal Court (ICC).
In 2017, Benjamin Ferencz visited the Peace Palace and taught school children from The Hague about his experience during the war, the Nuremberg Trials, and his belief in international law. During this visit, the municipality of The Hague honored him for his achievements by naming a public footpath next to the Peace Palace after him.
One year later, his family’s foundation, the Planethood Foundation, presented the City of The Hague with a beautiful wooden bench overlooking the Peace Palace.
When visiting the Peace Palace, Ferencz said: “Consider the proposition that law, not war, should be your guide. If you could do that, those three words—law, not war—will save billions of dollars every day, not to say how many millions of lives will be saved. How can you do that? I will give you three more words and three sentences: Never give up! Never give up! Never give up!”.