Skip to Content

Press Releases

Bipartisan Bill to Award Last Living Nuremberg Prosecutor the Congressional Gold Medal Included in Fiscal Year 2023 Spending Bill

Washington, DC – Today, Representatives Lois Frankel (D-FL-21), Joe Wilson (R-SC-02), Jim McGovern (D-MA-02), and Gus Bilirakis (R-FL-12) were joined by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) to announce that their bipartisan bill to award a Congressional Gold Medal to Benjamin Ferencz—the last living Nuremberg prosecutor—was included in the Fiscal Year 2023 spending package. The funding package is expected to pass later this week and be signed by President Biden by Friday.  

“By awarding Ben Ferencz, the last living Nuremberg prosecutor, with the Congressional Gold Medal, Congrss is sending an important message: that hate, bigotry, and antisemitism can never be tolerated. This message couldn’t come at a more important time with antisemitism and Holocaust denial on the rise,” said Rep. Frankel. “Mr. Ferencz is a hero of the Jewish community who has dedicated decades of his life to combatting antisemitism, prosecuting those who act on their hatred, and keeping the lessons of the Holocaust alive. It is a privilege to recognize his remarkable, lifelong commitment to justice, peace, and human dignity with the Congressional Gold Medal—Congress’s highest expression of honor.”

“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,” said Rep. Wilson. “I am grateful to have co-led this bipartisan, bicameral legislation to award him the Congressional Gold Medal in honor of his lifelong dedication to justice and integrity.”

“Ben Ferencz has dedicated his life to standing up for human rights and justice,” said Rules Committee Chairman James P. McGovern. “As Co-Chair of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, I often hear how grave atrocities such as genocide happen because good people look the other way or fail to take action. Ben Ferencz has spent the last five decades ensuring that we do not look away—and that those who commit these heinous crimes are held accountable. Nuremberg is the model on how to investigate, how to interrogate, how to prosecute, and how to mete out justice. I am so proud that Congress is coming together in a bipartisan way to honor Mr. Ferencz with the Congressional Gold Medal. For ‘never again’ to mean ‘enough is enough,’ it is critically important for us to continue to honor and elevate the work of heroes like Mr. Ferencz.”

“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. 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 help honor him,” said Rep. Bilirakis.

“I am honored to have secured the awarding of the Congressional Gold Medal to Benjamin Ferencz, a champion for human rights and the last living Nuremberg prosecutor,” said Senator Gillibrand. “As chief U.S. prosecutor during the Nuremberg trials, Mr. Ferencz held Nazi war criminals accountable for their crimes against humanity, and spent the many decades since then fighting for human rights, justice and peace. Mr. Ferencz’s life exemplifies what it means to dedicate oneself to compassion, empathy and righteousness. Few people have been more deserving of this tremendous honor.”

During World War II, 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 battle stars for his service. Later, he was appointed Chief Prosecutor in the trial that convicted 22 former Nazi Schutzstaffel (SS) officials.

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 Congress’ highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions. The first Congressional Gold Medal was given to George Washington in 1776 and has been awarded just 184 times to our nation’s heroes, activists, scientists, and other important figures in our society.

Senator Gillibrand was joined by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), and Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) in leading the Senate companion bill. The bill enjoyed the support of 296 House cosponsors and 81 Senate cosponsors. It was endorsed by the Anti-Defamation League and American Jewish Committee.