Gov. DeSantis awards state Medal of Freedom to Nuremberg trials prosecutor

ron desantis
'We have not yet learned the lesson from Nuremburg.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday awarded the state’s Governor’s Medal of Freedom to Benjamin Ferencz, the last living prosecutor of the Nuremberg trials, in which Nazi regime members stood trial for their role in the Holocaust and World War II.

Before doing so, he signed SB 1360 into law, which removed the scheduled expiration date for the Medal of Freedom award in state law, which had been set for July 1. He also stressed the importance of educating younger generations about the Holocaust.

“When you start talking about that World War II era … a lot of the first-hand experience is fading,” DeSantis said during a ceremony held at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton.

Ferencz, 102, was born in present-day Romania and emigrated with his family to the U.S. when he was 10 months old. He served in the U.S. Army from 1943-1945 during WWII, and towards the end of the war helped document Nazi atrocities as concentration camps were liberated.

He returned briefly to the U.S. before being selected to prosecute 22 members of SS death squads, responsible for murdering 2 million civilians during the war, including Jews, gypsies, disabled people and political enemies. All were convicted, with four executed by hanging.

Ferencz spoke of the “dead bodies all lying on the floor, their eyes may be pleading for help” when the death camps were liberated.

“The horrors I have seen … that had a very lasting impression on me,” Ferencz said. “My hope was that we could create a more humane and peaceful world where no one would be killed or persecuted because of his race, or his religion or his political belief.”

But he also noted Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine, in which wholesale killings of civilians were discovered in recent weeks as Russia’s troops receded from some areas such as Bucha.

“We see it still happening today,” Ferencz said. “People see the pictures on television, people running with their infant children, hospitals being bombed. And we have not yet learned the lesson from Nuremberg.”

The bill, SB 1360, was sponsored by Rep. Webster Barnaby, a Deltona Republican, who was on hand for the ceremony. It passed unanimously at every committee stop, but on the Senate floor, the vote was 36-1. Sen. Gary Farmer, a Lighthouse Point Democrat, initially voted “no” but changed his vote to “yes” after the roll call.

Gray Rohrer

One comment

  • Matthew Lusk

    April 8, 2022 at 12:32 pm

    There’s an interesting book out there worth reading: “Selective prosecution at Nuremburg.”

Comments are closed.


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