The last surviving Nuremberg prosecutor, who secured war crime convictions for Nazi defendants in the aftermath of World War II, may be awarded the Medal of Honor.
The House passed a resolution this week bestowing the honor upon Benjamin Ferencz, who was 27 years old when he prosecuted Nazis on charges of crimes against peace, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and conspiracy to commit war crimes. He was also the chief prosecutor for the U.S. Army during the Nuremberg trials, which convicted Germans responsible for invading other countries during the war.
“In this day of partisan conflict, this is a rare show of bipartisanship with 296 co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle,” said Rep. Lois Frankel (D-FL), who introduced the bill, on Tuesday. “Mr. Ferencz is 103 years old, and to this day is a tireless advocate for the rule of law and international justice. I have met Ben Ferencz because I am blessed to say he is my constituent in Delray Beach, Florida. And he remains very alert and very humble.”
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Ferencz, a South Florida resident, received the Florida Governor’s Medal of Freedom during a ceremony in April when he warned attendees that the world had not yet learned from history, pointing to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“My hope was that we could create a more humane and peaceful world where no one would be killed or persecuted because of his race or religion or political belief,” he said. "We see it still happening today, people running with their infant children, hospitals being bombed, and we have not yet learned the lesson from Nuremberg despite the fact that we laid it out clear and unmistakable.”
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Several countries have denounced Russia for war crimes in Ukraine, with Lithuania becoming the first to designate Russia as an agent of terrorism for its attacks against civilians in Bucha, Irpin, Mariupol, Borodyanka, and Hostomel.
The bipartisan bill passed the House on Tuesday and now heads to the Senate for consideration.