On March 11, 2021, Benjamin Ferencz, one of the last witnesses of the Nuremberg Trials, turned 101. The City of Nuremberg and the Memorium Nuremberg Trials offer him their warmest congratulations. In honor of his birthday, the Danish artist Bjørn Skaarup and the Ferencz family donated a bronze bust to the Memorium. In a digital conversation, Benjamin Ferencz, Bjørn Skaarup, and Axel Fischer, research associate at the Memorium Nuremberg Trials, spoke about the significance of the Nuremberg Trials and ceremonially unveiled the bust.
On March 11, 1920, Benjamin Berell Ferencz was born in Somcuta Mare, in what was then Hungary. He entered the historical world stage when he appeared in the fall of 1947 as the chief prosecutor in the so-called Einsatzgruppen Trial, the ninth of the "Nuremberg Follow-Up Trials." The jurist himself described the trial as “the largest murder trial in history”. In fact, the 24 defendants were accused of crimes that had cost hundreds of thousands of lives. The majority of the victims were Jews. They were the so-called Einsatzgruppen, death squads formed from police and military units that carried out the Holocaust outside the concentration and death camps.
Ferencz, as a young lawyer, was moving on complicated terrain of international criminal law in his first trial. Nevertheless, he and his team succeeded in obtaining a sentence for each of the defendants. The U.S. lawyer continued to stay in Germany after his job at the Military Tribunal in Nuremberg, where he worked to obtain civil reparations for Nazi injustice. He then worked as a lawyer and in teaching, where international law was always his subject. His commitment to international law as a participant in the negotiations for the Statute of the International Criminal Court in The Hague was very practical by taking the first prosecution plea before the Court. Benjamin Ferencz's motto is "Law not War".
The life, work and birthday of this man moved the Danish artist Bjørn Skaarup to create a bronze bust of Benjamin Ferencz. The artist and the Ferencz family agreed to donate the bronze to the Nuremberg Trials Memorial so that it could be placed at the site of Ferencz's early work. We would like to thank Bjørn Skaarup, Benjamin Ferencz and his family for this generous gift.
The artist: "It is fitting that Benjamin Ferencz, the last Nuremberg prosecutor, is celebrated in the courtroom where he changed the course of history. [...] This portrait bust, depicting Ferencz's motto "Law not War" was erected in recognition of his extraordinary legacy on March 11, 2021, Ferencz's 101st birthday."