Monday, May 15, 2017

The Last Nuremberg Prosecutor Still Alive Today, Ben Ferencz Has Message for Today's World

Often times here in the United States, the World War II generation is referred to as "the greatest generation." It is difficult to argue with this, because that generation faced two of the gravest crises that faced not just this country, but the world, and they came out shining after surviving both.

Indeed, they survived the Great Depression, and then fought World War II in Europe and the Pacific, and they conquered in each instance. President Bush promised that Iraqis would be welcoming American troops with open arms, but the World War II generation of Americans actually were welcomed as liberators in Europe and elsewhere. And that the end of it, the nation enjoyed a period of relative peace and prosperity and privilege the likes of which had never before been seen, and which remains the standard that many Americans continue to aspire to today.

Yet, there is something else that that generation had to endure, as well. Of course, we all know that wars are brutal, and especially world wars. However, what people witnessed during that particular war, the level of brutality and inhumanity, stood out even among the long and sad history of wars. There were civilian casualties on a scale never experienced before, and there was destruction of whole cities and, yes, even whole countries. And there was the systematic, and bureaucratic, murder of whole races of people. There had been the Holodomor in the Ukraine in the 1930's, in the years just before the outbreak of World War II. Then, there was the Holocaust, which targeted all people that the Nazis viewed as undesirables, but especially the Jews. Finally, there were the "enemies of the state" in the Soviet Union, which saw millions of others sent to the frozen Gulags of Siberia, and often times killed and murdered.

All of these would come more fully to light over time, although the Holocaust of the Jews by Nazis in Germany and occupied territories became a horrifying and, yes, life changing story once the full scale of this became known. And there were some members of that greatest generation of Americans who were there, among the first to liberate the last of these people from the death camps.

World War II was an unbelievable time historically speaking. The map changed much more quickly and more dramatically than at probably any other point in recorded human history, and the events that transpired there continue to be remembered and have an impact to this day. The dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki are still remembered, and cast a shadow over much of what transpired in the latter half of the 20th century. So did the Holocaust, and the excesses of the Nazis in general have served as an extreme point of comparison to anyone who shows any tendency towards authoritarianism. Lately, these comparisons have grown still more extreme, as anyone who disagrees with us generally speaking seems open to comparisons with Nazis.

Even the weaponry of the war still impacts us. There seem to be public displays of World War II weapons in many, if not most, towns in the United States. And there are still unexploded bombs found throughout Europe, including as recently as this past weekend, where evacuations took place in Hanover, Germany, more than seven decades after the war's end!

So given all of that, you know that a generation that saw and went through all of those experiences would have learned something, and that we could stand to benefit by listening to what they have to say.

To that end, no less an authority than one of the prosecutors at the Nuremberg Trials - the last one still living - has some advice for people living in the present age.

Yes  Ben Ferencz, the last surviving Nuremberg prosecutor, wants to tell us living today some advice from his end, with his experience. And given his unique position to do so, I imagine that what he has to say will be absolutely fascinating!

Take a look for yourself by clicking on the link below:

What the last Nuremberg prosecutor alive wants the world to know At 97, Ben Ferencz is the last Nuremberg prosecutor alive and he has a far-reaching message for today’s world  2017 May 07 CORRESPONDENT Lesley Stahl

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