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Reps. Bilirakis, Frankel, Wilson, Deutch & McGovern Introduce Legislation to Award 101-Year-Old Nuremberg Prosecutor the Congressional Gold Medal

November 18, 2021
Press Release

Washington, DC – Today, Representatives Gus Bilirakis (R-FL012), Lois Frankel (D-FL-21), Joe Wilson (R-SC-02), Ted Deutch (D-FL-22), and Jim McGovern (D-MA-02) introduced a bipartisan bill to award Benjamin Ferencz—the last living Nuremberg prosecutor— with a Congressional Gold Medal on the anniversary of the Nuremberg Trials. During WWII, Ferencz served in the U.S. Army and helped collect evidence of Nazi war crimes. After the war, he was honorably discharged with the rank of Sergeant of Infantry and was awarded five medals for his service. Over the course of his life, Ferencz has been a tireless advocate for the rule of law and international justice. This remarkable centenarian embodies the best of what the United States—and the American people—offer to the world.

The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions. Certainly Ben Ferencz, who has spent more than 50 years prosecuting war crimes and genocide, qualifies for this prestigious honor.  He has spent his entire, distinguished career pursuing justice for victims of horrific, unthinkable crimes against humanity. And he has succeeded, over and over again.  In one instance, he secured justice for 20 Nazi  Schutzstaffel  (SS) officers responsible for killing more than one million people in towns and villages across Eastern Europe. These officers never would have been brought to justice if it weren’t for his efforts. Throughout history, humanity has encountered many faces of evil. Our brightest moments as an international community have been those in which we present a united front in our efforts to identify and eradicate its presence. Mr. Ferencz has been at the helm leading that important work, and I am humbled to honor him,” said Rep. Bilirakis.

From his military service during World War II, to his role as chief prosecutor in a trial that brought 22 Nazi officials to justice, Ben Ferencz has led a remarkable life dedicated to the pursuit of justice,” said Rep. Frankel. He is a treasure to the Palm Beach County and hero to our global Jewish community, and it is an honor to be introducing a bill to award him the Congressional Gold Medal.”

Ben Ferencz is a true champion of human rights. Beginning with his time as an investigator in World War II and chief U.S. 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. The Congressional Gold Medal would be a fitting honor and I’m grateful to co-lead this bill. Thank you for all you have done in the name of global justice,” said Rep. Joe Wilson.

At a time when national surveys show more and more young Americans know less and less about the Holocaust, as anti-Semitic incidents are on the rise, and as we lose the last generation of first-hand witnesses of the horrors of World War II, I can think of no better individual to receive this honor and no better moment for him to receive it,” said Rep. Deutch.The words ‘never again’ do not simply mean learning the facts of what happened. They require each of us to take action to prevent other atrocities, and Ben Ferencz’s lifetime of remarkable achievement shows his dedication to that work. As the last living Nuremberg prosecutor, and a man who spent more than 50 years prosecuting the most horrific war crimes, Mr. Ferencz embodies the idea that while the work is not ours to finish, neither is it ours to neglect. His work has left a shining legacy for the next generation, and in honoring him, we commit to continuing his efforts.”