A Congressional Gold Medal requires more votes from lawmakers than impeachment and conviction of an in-office president.
But in an era of escalating antisemitism and Holocaust denial, the renowned award was given Thursday to the final survivor of the Nuremberg Trials’ prosecution team.
Ben Ferencz, the renowned attorney from the Nuremberg trials, was honored on Thursday.
His son accepted the award on behalf of his bedridden, 102-year-old father.
Neighbors, supporters, and Jewish community officials were present during the presentation, which was held in Ferencz’s hometown of Delray Beach, Florida.
Along with Holocaust survivors, the American Jewish Committee and Anti-Defamation League were there.
Additionally present was U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel (D-Fla.), who successfully steered the award of Ferencz through Congress.
The Congressional Gold Medal is the legislature’s most incredible display of respect for outstanding accomplishments and contributions on a national level.
Before a resolution is taken up in the relevant congressional committees, it needs to be sponsored by two-thirds of the House and two-thirds of the Senate.
Since General George Washington received his medal from the Continental Congress on March 25, 1776, just about 175 have been given.
According to Frankel, a Jewish organization approached her with the suggestion of awarding Ferencz a Congressional Gold Medal.
Oh, this is going to be simple, she believed.
As Republican Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina and Democratic Rep. Kathy Manning of North Carolina spearheaded the effort on the opposite side of the Capitol, she joined forces with them to advance the bill through the House.
“I talked to several Democrats and Republicans to obtain their support for the law. Several elements contributed to its success, including Ben Ferencz’s greatness and accomplishments.
Frankel added that she believes Congress intended to convey a message to the American people given the upsetting circumstances of the time.
“I believe what pushed these congressmen and senators to jump on board, to send a message from the highest, most powerful political body in the world, was the development of antisemitism in the world—that hatred,” Frankel said.
“It’s crucial to convey that hatred for Jews and other minorities is unacceptable and that the Holocaust occurred.”
When Frankel informed Ferencz she would submit a bill to request the prize on his behalf, “He was polite,” Frankel told JNS.
He has never made it about himself. I believe it is significant to him that what he stood for endures. His message will stay in a variety of ways.
Ferencz, a Jewish immigrant from Hungary, was just 27 years old when he acted as the primary US prosecutor in the Einsatzgruppen case, which resulted in the prosecution and conviction of 22 Nazi leaders in 1947–1948 for the alleged murder of 1.3 million Jews.
After studying crime prevention at Harvard University, he joined the army and was assigned to an investigation force among the first to enter many liberated concentration camps to gather proof of Nazi atrocities.
Ferencz was chosen to participate in the Nuremberg prosecution shortly after receiving his discharge, marking the beginning of his legal career.
He played a significant role in the creation of the International Criminal Court later in life, which functions as s a global high court for crimes against humanity and war crimes.
He also fought for compensation for Holocaust survivors.
After listening to several speakers on Thursday, Frankel claimed to have been astounded.
“What a wonderful existence. She claimed that being at the right place at the right time and being the type of person who makes the most of your circumstances account for a great deal in life.
He inherited a love for justice and humanity from his parents. He was informed that they were short on resources (money and manpower) during the Nuremberg trials. Ben was tenacious.