The Last Prosecutor
This past January, Ferencz wrote an op-ed in The New York Times following the killing of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani. “I am pretty embarrassed to find the president of the United States being involved in what seems to me to be an act of murder, and also quite annoyed that he tried to conceal it by saying the victim was taken out,” he says. “What do you mean, taken out? Taken out for a walk? Taken out for a beer? Only certain kinds of self-defense are permissible, when the danger is so instantaneous and certain that you must respond. That was not the condition here.” The centenarian champion of law and concord has been an eyewitness to a turbulent century that saw a near collapse of human civilization followed by significant progress in international cooperation and the rule of law. His long memory and wry wit offer a unique perspective on past and present, which he shares freely from his home in Florida.
Young Benjamin arrived on Ellis Island as a ten-month-old Jewish immigrant from Transylvania in 1921, only 35 years after the unveiling of the Statue of Liberty. Despite his humble background, after graduating from the City College of New York the gifted young man attended Harvard Law School, graduating in 1943. Serving in Patton´s Third Army during World War II, he established its pioneering war crimes section, which helped pave the way for the Nuremberg Tribunal.