Thomas Buergenthal, a survivor of Auschwitz who became a judge at the UN war crimes court in The Hague, has died aged 89.
Buergenthal was born in 1934 in what was then Czechoslovakia, to a Jewish family that was forced to flee to Poland when the Germans invaded. He was one of the youngest survivors of Nazi concentration camps Auschwitz and Sachsenhausen.
Buergenthal later went on to serve from 2000 to 2010 as a judge on the International Court of Justice in the Hague, having previously served as a judge and president of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights as well as president of the Administrative Tribunal of the Inter-American Development Bank.
At the time of his death, Judge Buergenthal was the Lobingier Professor Emeritus of Comparative Law and Jurisprudence at the George Washington University Law School.
'An inspiration and a role model for all who came into contact with him'
Multiple groups expressed condolences on Tuesday.
The government of Goettingen, the German city where Buergenthal resided after the war, said Tuesday that he had “tirelessly dedicated himself to reconciliation and for human rights his entire life.” Goettingen is home to the Thomas Buergenthal Centre city library.
Menachem Rosensaft, World Jewish Congress general counsel and associate executive vice president said: “Thomas Buergenthal belonged to that unique group of young Holocaust survivors who dedicated their lives to combatting the evils of bigotry and hatred to which they and their families had been so cruelly subjected."
He added: "Together with other giants like Elie Wiesel and Abe Foxman, he was an inspiration and a role model for all who came into contact with him. Soft-spoken and mild mannered, Tom was fearless in standing up for the human rights of all victims of persecution, oppression and crimes against humanity. I had the privilege of serving with him on the United States Holocaust Memorial Council and saw firsthand his unbending integrity and his devotion to the sanctity of both the law and memory. May his memory be for a blessing.”