Last Nuremberg prosecutor alive expected to receive Congressional Gold Medal

The medal, presented as part of the Fiscal Year 2023 spending package, would award the US Army veteran the prestigious honor.

 Benjamin Ferencz - Chief Prosecutor in 1947 Einsatzgruppen Trial - In Courtroom 600 Where Nuremberg Trials Were Held. (photo credit: ADAM JONES, PH.D. VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)
Benjamin Ferencz - Chief Prosecutor in 1947 Einsatzgruppen Trial - In Courtroom 600 Where Nuremberg Trials Were Held.
(photo credit: ADAM JONES, PH.D. VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

Nuremberg prosecutor Ben Ferencz, the last surviving prosecutor of the famed Nuremberg Trials that brought Nazi war criminals to justice at the end of World War II, is likely to receive a Congressional Gold Medal for his achievements in the next week.

A bipartisan bill included in the Fiscal Year 2023 spending package, which US President Joe Biden is expected to sign later in the week, would award the US Army veteran and lifelong advocate for international justice the prestigious honor.

“By awarding Ben Ferencz, the last living Nuremberg prosecutor, with the Congressional Gold Medal, Congress is sending an important message: That hate, bigotry, and antisemitism can never be tolerated. This message couldn’t come at a more important time with antisemitism and Holocaust denial on the rise.”

Florida Rep. Louis Frankel

“By awarding Ben Ferencz, the last living Nuremberg prosecutor, with the Congressional Gold Medal, Congress is sending an important message: That hate, bigotry, and antisemitism can never be tolerated. This message couldn’t come at a more important time with antisemitism and Holocaust denial on the rise,” said Rep. Louis Frankel (D-Florida), who co-sponsored the bill.

Who is Ben Ferencz?

As a sergeant in the US Army, Ferencz helped collect evidence of war crimes – eventually compiling enough evidence to prosecute 22 members of Nazi killing squads responsible for the deaths of more than one million Holocaust victims. 

Ferencz has since continued his career as a tireless advocate for the rule of law and international justice ever since his role in what was known to be the “biggest murder trial in history.”

THE DEFENDANTS, including Joachim von Ribbentrop in the front row, sit in the dock at Nuremberg in 1946. (credit: REUTERS)THE DEFENDANTS, including Joachim von Ribbentrop in the front row, sit in the dock at Nuremberg in 1946. (credit: REUTERS)

“As chief US prosecutor during the Nuremberg trials, Mr. Ferencz held Nazi war criminals accountable for their crimes against humanity, and spent the many decades since then fighting for human rights, justice and peace,” said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York). “Mr. Ferencz’s life exemplifies what it means to dedicate oneself to compassion, empathy and righteousness.”

“Ben Ferencz is a true champion of human rights. Beginning with his time as an investigator in World War II and chief US Army prosecutor during the Nuremberg Trials, through his long, outstanding career as an advocate of the international rule of law. Mr. Ferencz deserves our respect and appreciation,” added Rep. Joe Wilson (R-South Carolina).

Congressional Gold Medal 

Awarded just 184 times previously in America’s history and presented to great historical figures such as George Washington, the Congressional Gold Medal is Congress’s highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions.

The bill that would make Ferencz just the 185th awardee has the support of 296 House cosponsors and 81 Senate co-sponsors, as well as the Anti-Defamation League and American Jewish Committee.