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Statement by President Higgins on the Death of Benjamin Ferencz

Date: Sun 9th Apr, 2023 | 19:52

“It is with great sadness that supporters of human rights all over the world will have learned of the death of Benjamin Ferencz, the last surviving member of the Prosecution team at the Nuremberg Military Tribunal and tireless campaigner for the creation of a permanent International Criminal Court with jurisdiction over the crime of aggression.

The modern system of international criminal justice owes a profound debt of gratitude to Benjamin Ferencz. As a war crimes investigator, Benjamin was amongst the first Allied personnel to liberate Nazi death camps. The scenes of death and unimaginable human suffering he documented and witnessed shaped the course of his extraordinary life, and continued to have a profound emotional impact on him even decades later.

The first trial he ever prosecuted – the Einsatzgruppen case – resulted in a conviction of 22 officers for their part in the murder of more than one million Jewish, Roma and other innocent civilians by mobile Nazi death squads in Eastern Europe.

After the war, he played a key role in negotiating the historic reparations agreement by which West Germany agreed to provide financial restitution to Holocaust survivors.

He devoted his life to advocating for the creation of effective international justice mechanisms to provide accountability for victims of war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity.

Ben Ferencz was a generational figure. His career proved that it is possible for peace and justice to be turned into a tangible reality. He will be sorely missed by all who believe in the universal support and application of human rights."