Benjamin Ferencz is the last surviving Nuremberg prosecutor. He is Vladimir Putin "no doubt" war criminals.

London — As Ukrainian authorities and the international community work to meticulously gather the growing evidence Russian war crimes In ~ UkraineAt the Nuremberg trial, the last surviving WWII Nazi official told CBS News that Russian President Vladimir Putin was “definitely” a war criminal.

Benjamin Ferenz, now 102, fought in some of the most important battles of World War II. He was a young lawyer, recently graduated from Harvard Law School, and was assigned to a department charged with collecting evidence for Nazi war crimes in Europe.

“It was terrible. It was incredible and indescribable. My job was to enter the concentration camp when it was liberated. So when I got there the SS were running. The Americans were after them, and the land was It was covered in dead people and some were still partially alive and begging for help with their eyes. All of them seemed starving. It’s not only an unforgettable experience, but it’s also completely traumatic and I always have pictures of them,” Ferencz said. . He told CBS News.

He led a team of researchers to uncover a cache of German documents about organized genocide outside the Nazi concentration camps in a village inhabited primarily by Jews. At the age of only 27, he charged 22 leaders of Nazi troops in Nuremburg for such crimes. All were convicted.

What the last surviving Nuremberg prosecutor wants to tell the world


“Obviously it was so terrifying that I couldn’t get away from saying, ‘Well, that was a one-time thing’. It keeps happening over and over again. As we’re talking about, people who have nothing to do with the war are being shot and killed. [in Ukraine]“So the evil I was looking for for Nuremberg to correct is still with us today, and we are starting to build on a more human and rational basis, but there is still a long way to go,” Ferencz said.

Ferencz, along with Ukraine’s foreign minister, world leaders, and jurists, advocated the establishment of a special Nuremberg-style international tribunal that would test the Russian Federation’s leadership in the war of aggression, an illegal war crime. War.

Ferencz said that “in the context of this case… as well as specifying the principle that there should be no aggression against neighboring countries or anyone” would be an important step.

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At the age of 27, Ben Ferencz became Chief Prosecutor at Nuremberg with 22 Einsatzgruppen commanders.

In the case of a Russian invasion of Ukraine (unless it is extremely unlikely that a referral to the UN Security Council, over which Russia has veto power), the International Criminal Court has jurisdiction over crimes of aggression, a separate tribunal is necessary. prosecution. And while responsibility for other war crimes may not extend down to Putin himself, the crimes of aggression may.

“Obviously he’s a war criminal, you don’t have to think too much about it,” Ferencz told CBS News.

about Whether Putin himself will actually face justiceFerencz admitted, “That’s another question. Justice is one important term. He is elected to office. He has supporters in the country.”

Putin has been charged with nearly 10,000 war crimes so far.


Ferencz gave Putin a brief message: “Stop it… The use of force has become really useless in our day, because our killing powers exceed our ability to help people. We must bring it back.”

Ferencz said the world should generally turn its back on the use of force and rely on the courts instead.

“We need to recognize that humanity must come first and a more human and peaceful world should be our goal, not more powerful. [world]. You have to be generous. you need patience He told CBS News, “You have to be patient. When you’re 102, you’re going to say, ‘I knew a 102-year-old man and that’s what he was preaching.’ You see, he was right.'”


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