tv Oral Histories CSPAN November 29, 2015 8:53am-10:01am EST
involves 24 nazi defendants accused of killing more than one million people. for the 70th anniversary at the nurnberg trial, c-span is airing an oral interview with benjamin prosecutor.hief he immigrated to america when he was an immigrant and enlisted in the u.s. army after earning his -- degree and later was his assigned to set up a branch. in part three of his interview, he discusses the aftermath of the war crimes trial and how that you wish committee fought to achieve lost property for the conference, established in 1951. the mission of the conference is to secure a small measure of justice for the victims of not the last part of the interview conducted in washington, d.c.
it is about one hour. >> we talk about what sort of terms of,ou had in was it like what happened with restitution? benjamin: the conference was the acting asrganization the voice of the jewett community. authorization was obtained to speak for israel. we had one voice speaking for ewishewett community -- j community, which was important. i set up -- he would meet with all of the heads of the different political their support.re a man who worked with us in
nuremberg, a former jewish , a bachelor and a very charming man peer he said, what shall i do? i said, you make friends. all you have to do is make friends. i gave him a big american car, which cost nothing. free gasoline and free logistics support. i said, i want to know what the germans are thinking before they think it. he was the man for that. he knew all of the secretaries and all of the people and he was very popular. the problem was to persuade the germans to make the payments in this category that we wanted. to germans didn't want appear they had their own financial problems. a finance minister said this will bank -- bankruptcy germany. at one time, we even talked tout requiring every german
-- into a fund so they would realize they were paying compensation for what happened in the name. -- in their name. that would not have been seized -- feasible. the germans up and took different categories of payments. the german public was completely unaware. they felt no pain whatsoever as a result of the programs. the lossesspered and were much greater than anyone had anticipated. we estimated it would be 6 billion marks or 9 billion marks the germans said no, it will be 12 billion marks and we cannot afford that. the program is overcome it would cost the germans well over 100 alien marks. they were already passed the 100 billion marks figure. is $.70 a market, 100
billion marks would be about $70 billion, that is what it would cost the west german government to meet these claims. there were literally millions of claims filed. , don'td non-jews alike forget that. not only jewish claims. had, the claims had to be proved. in every case, the individual claimant had to prove that he was injured as a direct consequence of not see action. if you could prove he was permanently disabled, he would get a lifelong pension. they are paid now. i don't know how many are still alive. yearsst time i looked ago, there were over 100,000 jewish not the victim survivors getting lifelong pensions from that government.
the d mark is very valuable currency. this was a lifesaver for them. in order for them to get recognition, they had to persuade the german doctors that this was caused by the persecution. that was not easy because for years, they denied there could ,e any mental disability caused if it did not immediately appear on liberation. many people and anybody in the business who knew the people, managed to hold themselves together, for many years. or 20aybe five or 10 years later, suddenly they would break down. by that time, the deadlines had all expired. have been recognized for a small ability, they had to prove their grandfather had not had a nervous break down at some point, and the german doctors were hostile. i must say they were hostile.
and the german agencies who had to deal with this were very often hostile depending on the area. berlin was known to be more liberal. there was a man named lifshitz in charge who is very kind and fair. trouble allng but the way. required legal services of all kinds. they never really understood. why didn't they get more? poultry and it was in many respects. they could not understand that every case was different. sister got the same or my friend. why did they get more than i did ? there was always a reason and sometimes it was not a good reason area to have them understand that was very difficult. program, which was
originally intended to be over by 10 years, and i knew it never would be, it had to be modified. they were expanded. they were getting tired of that. they had to come with a hardship fund. with a hardship fund. then they came with another hardship fund. every time you started to implement the program you discover the losses were greater than anticipated, any of us anticipated. since germany was prospering, and many were linked to their own civil servants. when their civil servants got a raise in their pensions, the jewish got the same amount. they never got the same amount, but something lesser. some rays. got over the years the payments were significant. the program is still going on, that should be over in the next 10 or 20 years as the victims die off.
there was a historical achievement, a great achievement . an achievement from a moral point of view with recognition that the wrongdoer has an obligation to his victim to help. of view,gal point developing the principles of compensation and law which under similarople circumstances to help another, which i fear are being repeated. when we look back upon it, i look back upon it, i think it was a great thing. it was done in the name of all of the jewish organizations on the not to survivors to make good again any of their suffering. it was a gesture that somebody cared, they had not been forgotten. so jews and non-jews may claim? mr. ferencz: yes. any clients handle except for the hardship clients
that came later. the claims were submitted to a german agency. if you are not satisfied you had to go up to the german supreme and constitutional courts. the united restitution organization, another organization that was involved in the help. to theok many cases german supreme court and restitution of court. sometimes we won, sometimes we didn't. >> [inaudible] mr. ferencz: i think the , whichntal story disturbed me for years, was the thean failure to recognize late claims. these elements which could appear only years later. particularly mental illness. it was not only mental, you would suddenly get her trouble or other things.
the germans refused directly as washough medical science beginning to recognize people subjected to trauma my -- it have this syndrome later. they began to recognize it when the german troops came home from the soviet union. suddenly, they realized, these todiers who were subject to the most difficult circumstances in captivity were suffering from mental ailments of various kinds, and physical ailments, and began to compensate them. the payments made to the german ss officers, their payments were higher than any amounts given to jewish survivors. though they are important, the jewish survivors, we do not want to exaggerate their importance to the jewish government and their own foreign as a this heroes, as they considered them.
the whole category of mental ailments was badly treated by the germans. very badly treated for many years, and many died before they got compensation. some court decisions were outrageous, outrageously unfair. moree germans felt obligation to the perpetrators? mr. ferencz: they do not call them perpetrators, they were fallen heroes. different category. this was something imposed upon them outside their normal judicial framework and they always regarded it as such. legislation,s was something special. the ordinary principles of law did not apply to these payments, and argument they made saying "we doing you a favor, get off of our back. do not come to us with legal principles when we have our own
german law. it is a special law and there are limits. " there was some truth. it was more than other governments had done, but us on the ground were trying to get as much as we could for the victims. this was all done in the name of the jewish organizations. forunately for them, and everybody, they did not have to put in any money. they generated all of the money from the ground from the first payment that supported them meetings, salaries, and everything else, and tax exemptions from germany for many of the expenditures. the organizations themselves, they welcomed germany paying. washington with delegations and say pay more, to take early in the new york times or the jewish week, or the
jewish telegraphic agency. in terms of making a sacrifice, for the victims fortunately the jewish organizations were not called upon to make sacrifices. can you talk about the anointed restitution? mr. ferencz: yes. it was very obvious from the that if the nazi victims were to assert claims the german laws, the military government laws, they would need legal help. there is no member that was not a nazi, it was a requirement. if you were not a nazi, you could not be admitted to the bar. the prospect of jewish nazi victims going to german lawyers, and paying them in an effort to get compensation, the nature of which was highly uncertain and the value which was uncertain, is not something they would do.
there was no agency to assist them with their claims. the legislative problems that we worked out were under them. , by we i mean i was was thector, the jdc leading body. there was a small organization of german-jewish lawyers that set up in england that were handling some restitution claims. they were being supported by the agency.another jewish very small payments for a small program. i incorporated them, they recall the united registration office, i called it the united restitution organization. there was a fine gentleman which was a distinguished englishmen, and palestinian citizen. i expanded it with money which
the germans had paid. from the claims conference $2 million and expanded the operation. i repaid it later. 1956 ileft germany in had a staff of 250 german offices in00 people, 19 countries, offices in every major city in germany, israel, were ever there were large concentrations who needed help with their claims. the united were -- the united restitution office set up . we had one in tel aviv, on the west coast in the united states, is still exists in new york and philadelphia. baltimore,ces in stockholm, latin america, stockholm, all around the world. to giveces were there
assistance with no down payment and a small contingent fee, which allowed the organization to maintain itself, funneling hundreds of thousands of claims through to the german agencies in germany. we had offices in frankfurt, berlin, cologne, wherever they were german agencies. set up anere we office. the heads of offices for all of the jewish lawyers. we did not rely on german lawyers except as subsidiaries .nd then we screened them it was a very big operation, largely unheard of. it worked very well, i must a. -- i must say. i set it up around 1951, and i 1992 or 1993 after 40 years.
hadall that time, we hundreds of thousands of dollars and claims, there was never a trace of any scandal. not a single client was able to ofonstrate a complaint malpractice. we had no malpractice insurance, and we never had any indication of anything other than a clean and bright organization, which did not satisfy all of the clients. most said they did not get enough, but some did and they appreciated it. it was a unique corporation. doubt, the biggest legal aid society that existed. they are now down to 100 people altogether with the headquarters in frankfurt. and 1948 iseputy the chairman of the board. it still carries on.
it tries to help the best it can. are there any particular aspects you would like to go ino with the establishment the society? mr. ferencz: the usual bureaucratic problems. initially, there was some difference in emphasis on the german jews and the non-german jews. or a while, the office in israel was divided. the german jews had their claim and the non-german jews have their claims. tried joining separate departments, and i refused. same in new york. they were on different floors, i said no, they are all not to victims, they are all jews, they will be treated the same.
the dichotomy did not last long. >> what happened to the original? mr. ferencz: the one million i i told you il, as signed a document promising to repay it out of restitution moneys when the money came in. it was a fair enough arrangement to avoid getting consent from the russians. and the money was gone. gone --clay was always was also gone. andmmissioned john mccloy explained to him, being honest, that i borrowed the million marks against occupation funds and promised to repay. i said, the money is just beginning to come in, there are other priorities. i'm trying to move the dp's out of the camps in germany into israel. i need the money to buy
prefabricated homes that can be shipped. then everything was under strict control. i said, i need the funds to buy these prefabricated houses in israel,nd austria -- in in austria and ship them to israel. he said, all right. money.i need more he said how much? i said one million marks. he said can i do that legally? i said you can. so he wired another million marks. when that million marks was gone, i came back to him and said look, i know that i promised to repay and the money is coming in, but there are other priorities. usually not give priority to repay occupation funds, there are other needs. -- i need another million marks and will repay it
later. i had accumulated 3 million marks. .ne day, the time came mr. mccloy, in his infinite wisdom or folly, granted clemency to a lot of convicted war criminals. including one that had been sentenced to seven years in prison and his billions in assets. i went to see mr. mccloy. i said, i know that i have the debtto pay, is 3 million marks. if you insist on repaying i will repay, but you have just given a convicted war criminal 3 billion marks in assets. i do not think it is fair to ask the victims to pay these funds to cover a small portion of what was stolen from them. he said, what you want need to
do? i said, i want you to cancel the debt. i do this legally? i said, i have a memo that says you can. he said, the debt is canceled. that is something many do not know. it is not generally known. general mccloy was a great friend to the jews and the restitution program. he was helpful in persuading the german government to be supportive of jewish claims at a time when germany was totally dependent, financially and militarily, on the united states . mr. mccloy was the high commissioner of germany when he ,uggested the german leaders whether it be some of the others, that it would be in their interest to be more forthcoming in the dealings of jewish claims. they listened. in one speech he said this would
be the test of germany's morality and readiness to be rejoined with nations. deserveshat mr. mccloy recognition for what he did for the jews, as well as less criticism for his decision to bomb the rail lines at auschwitz , enter his judgment in which he was not alone in. roosevelt's advisor at the time, and i think that mccloy has hisen a bum rap for some of actions, as misguided and detrimental as they were in undermining the message of nuremberg. where their cases outside of the normal?
severalncz: there were two major ones come to mind. one is catholic women who were victims of medical experiments, and another was labor. the catholic women's story is simple. the concentration camp used young catholic women. they did not just select them because they were catholic, but they happened to be catholic, and use them for medical experiments, such as cutting and throwing sand and glass in the wounds to see how they would heal and how long it would take them to die. these were experiments designed to simulate conditions that german soldiers may face in traumatic situations. germany refused to pay them because they were no diplomatic relations between west germany and the polish government.
one of the defects in the german compensation laws was that they excluded political persecution and anybody from communist countries. lady named caroline faraday who was close to a french resistance group that was also catholic. she came to see me. she heard that i had been helpful. i was practicing law in new york . why couldn't i do something for the catholics? she explained that she had gone to the cousin that was the editor of the saturday review. some years before they had started an action to help what was called the hiroshima maidens, the women of hiroshima that had been injured by the american blast of atomic weapons and then disfigured. they were brought to new york
where they were treated by a doctor at mt. sinai hospital, given plastic surgery, and restored as far as possible as a gesture of goodwill from the americans to the japanese. a very successful program in showing compassion. he was well known for that. important influence on my world thinking. carolyn ferriday had gone to see him and said, there's no legal basis for the claims. they are different. somehow she found by name and came to see me. i agreed to help. we set up a committee. norman was the chairman. we brought in publicists, someone from "life" magazine. i approached the german government through the ambassador in 10.
you said, we can't pay. there is no provision in the law and we have no diplomatic relations with poland. they have no claim. i said, it has nothing to do with the law. you enter these people, you owe them, and he will pay them. .e said, no basis i said, we will find a basis. we led a hype publicity campaign. we filled in airplane with young polish women and brought them to the united states. i drafted speeches, norman drafted speeches, cardinal spellman read them on the steps of say cap its cathedral. -- of st. patrick's cathedral. a ticket to the senate, congress, and there was a speech. , nowg look what you did
these germans refuse to pay them. they used legal technicalities. i was on the phone every day with the german ambassador. finally, he said "i've had enough." legal matter, it is a political matter, they better settle with these women. i proceeded to bund, and the capital was taking this up outside the law. the cabinet was very annoyed with me. germany, i knew what they were thinking and doing. the word that i got from the middle of the cabinet meeting was that they were ready to pay, but not to you. they think you are a communist agent, and you are just there to embarrass the german government. i said, to whom are they willing to pay? they said, they don't know.
i said, what about the red cross? would pay the red cross. i said fine, they will make payments to the red cross. i will be in geneva and take it up with the red cross. they did. i went to geneva. from the red cross. the germans were willing to pay that only through the red cross. willing tod cross be accept it as an obligation? the red cross was smarter than me. i was ready to settle this with the germans for a million dollars or something. -- for $5 million or something. they only had 100 girls total. it was a symbolic payment. the red cross said we can not accept the limited liability this close handed deal. they will except the proposition that they will pay and we will
certify that they were victims of medical experiments. we will classify them a stomach gravity of the offense. they will set the level of compensation. we will then certify it and they will pay the expenses. fine, i said you have a deal. we made the deal. a special cabinet resolution. story thathe delights me and proves i was a full for being willing to accept a settlement for $5 million. i the time i got done paying the program, it must have cost them 50 times that much. the finance ministry said how many claims to you have? 1500. idea,e from checklist of poland, austria, hungary. all of them came to the red cross, they said that was the deal, and they kept of proving
them and getting paid. the minimum payment, i figured franc, was also made in people could go to get medical treatment abroad. the minimum payment was what a college professor would have earned in two years time. is a great thing for the polish women. it was one of the most touching moments in my experience. there is a group of them waiting at the airport in poland to greet me when i came as a guest of the polish government, to express their appreciation for the effort. that was one of the categories of claims outside of the normal range. there were many others, labor claims that i dealt with in detail in my book "less than slaves." it is now out of print. would print the paper back and again of that
book which has many useful lessons. it has been translated into german, japanese, the basis of a good german television show, and i hoped some could be done. there are other issues that have shaped my memory. another comes to mind as we talk. rabbis.payments for the you raise your eyebrows, no one has ever heard of it. we asserted a claim during the for payment to all of the officials of the jewish congregations. jewish congregations were faith organizations, entities of the state. if an elementary school teacher lost his job and stay long enough he got a pension. if a teacher in the hebrew school -- if he was a teacher in the hebrew school, he should
get the same pension. all the schools closed in 1933. all of the ritual, all the people involved in jewish congregation and jewish lives, we can't know that. i counted. i said, let's make a global settlement or 30 million marks. i said i will distribute. they said, we can't do that. make another deal. we will set up an advisory committee to check the claims. only when we check it and say it is ok, we will pass it to you. you can check it again, and we will only approve those cases where they would have been receiving pension. much to my relief and their regret. we set up an advisory committee of mostly german jews. we received thousands and thousands of applications of
people who would have been qualified, or felt they would have been qualified, from a -- for a pension from the jewish organizations. they passed those to the germans and they paid. under the finance ministry, but under the social ministry. said, probably to our shame, there are many cases where we turn down the claim, they appeal to the germans, and the germans approved it. although we were correct in our determination of eligibility, there were cases when the germans felt they would have been entitled. a case was a rabbi who left germany in 1935. somebody else took his position. he stayed until 1938 with 1937. he worked for two years. was he a career employee of the
congregation where was he only temporary? some of the members said no, he never expected a pension. it was only temporary. i always voted in favor when it was in doubt. tie, i always cast in favor of the client. in many cases we turned it down in the german said yes. that is an example of jews being overly cautious and the germans being overly generous. that is outside the normal range of the law and cost the germans more than we had originally anticipated. >> had you met the polish women prior to the visit to poland? no.ferencz: they had been in the states and
paraded around, but i had not met them individually. toy came to the airport greet me and we were supposed to go to a ballet. pouring the rain. they stay there with their flowers. i said to my host, they are all coming. they came later and express their appreciation. it was a touching experience. i told them all i wanted to do in poland was visit auschwitz, which i had never seen. to gave me a guide. it was interesting visit, and they were pleased to have me there. can you talk-- >> about the attitude of the german industrialists when you started making claims? mr. ferencz: the german had a uniques attitude. they began by denying that it ever happened.
was "what?e we employed concentration camps? " then they denied they were connected with it. perhaps they were assigned to us by the ss. conditions were really very good. they denied the conditions. when you pointed out conditions were terrible, but we were not responsible for that. we could under difficult circumstances. the ultimate payoff was, well, if it had not been for us, they would have gone directly to the gas chamber. by providing work, we save their lives. why are they complaining? they are less. -- they owe us. that, in summary, was the
attitude of the industrialists, despite the denials that have appeared since then. that was the universal response of all of them, without exception. , my knowledgeent of what had happened came largely from the nuremberg trials which built auschwitz. against aslave labor big industrialist who had many companies using slave labor. firms and everything else. in nuremberg, we collected the documentary evidence. the documentary evidence showed the truth. how many people they employ it, where, the conditions, how much they paid the ss for the laborers. what they had to do in order to qualify to receive inmates.
they showed clearly to me that you had to have good connections to the ss, engaged in industries they considered important, you had to ensure security, either by sending your own people to be guards,by the ss as putting barb wire around the plant, post security measures to be able to maintain them on a level that was tolerable to the ss, which meant minimum maximumion and production. they had to comply with that before they could be considered for getting labor. i'm not talking about right after the beginning of the war, when people were put to work on rubble, i am talking about regular force slave laborers.
i had the documentary proof, including the decrease from the minister responsible for the outpatient of labor. , all of themlists took the yellow line. berlin, it does bigexist anymore, this is a monthsand every three they would pay them. the russians, french, british, and americans. they were not exposed to any of the prisoners. i arranged to meet a man at the airport. it was not easy for me to shake cans with him. he spent 20 years.
in the interim he had written several books about his memoirs. in those books, and at nuremberg , he had indicated remorse for what had happened, and was prepared to assume responsibility to a certain extent for having been involved in supporting ss programs, knowing what was happening to the jews and forced laborers. him, i have a question. i've come to you with a question. documents andyour degrees. i have the requisitions. i have the reports from the concentration camp commanders. on the ss people responsible for the allocation of labor. they all tell me one thing consistently and only, all of the industrialists were fighting for the inmates and the equivalent toe a death.
they could only survive months in that kind of labor, and this was known to all of them, yet they denied it. how do you explain that? he said, they are lying. i said, can i quote you? he said, yes you may. i sent him the draft of "less forehand.s" the i said is this correct? if so, informed me. on the margin, agreed. he changed nothing. that was interesting. when some of these fine industrialists, representatives of mr. crook and the others, for asked about this later after making these paltry settlements with them described in the book, -- everything was fine. we had a moral obligation. in truth, they paid as little as they could get away with. they did not pay a penny more
than they had to. payoff it revealing their true attitude is what they did for the non-jews. theonnection with settlement, at a certain point in the negotiation, a gentleman had been the head of a group of auschwitz non-jewish survivors and had been agitating for compensation for them. they said we only have a limited 30 million marks. we can not pay more. you divide it. against thehe jews non-jews. that argued the ratio in the camp at the time of liberation. and i was a guest of the polish access, whichgot no one else had, to the auschwitz archives. the chief archivist gave me
cigarette paper, which the then prime minister had smuggled out when the russians came in, listing the different nationalities. 95% were jews, making it possible for them to cut off 5% for the non-jews. when he came to the others, they refused to pay. big electrical company, i met with their munich representatives at a big beautiful building. we reached a contract, then the contract said they did not recognize any legal or moral responsibility. i said, what do you mean "moral responsibility?" any moren't have responsibility, why are you? i said, why don't you want to put the truth? downon't you get this because you feel like you're being intimidated by the jews. i will sign that agreement.
but without recognizing legal or moral responsibility, that is outrageous. we got into a heated argument. who was more sober than i can and israeli, he he was morewn who is more, -- sober than, a german lawyer and israeli, he combed me down. --calmed me down. hetelevision i was asked why didn't pay non-jews? his answer was the jewish lobby was very active and the non-jews did not have that lobby. it was an honest statement, but revealed that the germans did not pay because they had a sense
of obligation to the jews, but because they felt intimidated by the jews. for that reason they gave as little as possible. they were not concerned with helping the jews, but helping their companies and germany. a want you to save germany at the end of the war. the rest of it is baloney, p or and simple. no one should believe it. may i correct something? i inadvertently misspoke. sphere that was in prison. was allowed to go free with his fortune things to mr. mccloy's generosity. i made another reference somewhere i mixed up the names of --
he had reviewed my manuscript before it was published. it was he wrote "agreed." leading nazi official confirming the accuracy of the statement that i put in my book, and the proof the german industrialists were lying. he was in the best position of all to know. >> or their problems between the jewish survivors who were getting some kind of compensation, however little, and the non-jews in the international auschwitz committee because they were excluded? mr. ferencz: there were no real problems. we met on occasion, but the inmates were unaware of these negotiations taking place. in fact, when we distributed these problems, we found that inmates came to file claims when they did not work for the
company or they did work for the company, not at a plant authorized to receive compensation. we had to engage on a voluntary basis, persons whom we knew had been there for a long time and form a screening committee. they would invite the claims in and try to confirm that they had actually been or not been there. ,n many cases, the inmates their moral feeling of what difference does it make if i schmidt, it was the same work in the same place, same time, same beatings, same starvation, why should he get it and not i? they were right, but we couldn't do anything about it. we screen them out, always kindly. we never accuse them of theft or corruption. we said, sorry, you have not been able to establish to our satisfaction that you worked under the conditions specified
under the contract. we wish it were otherwise. we had a lot of that. >> i wanted to go back for a second to the opening statement you made. about the trial. you comment on it and talk about your work for world peace. that those statements are directly related to everything else that you started and have been doing. you said "vengeance is not our .oal, merely just retributions we ask to a fireman's life to live in peace and dignity, regardless of race and creed." the case was presented as a plea to humanity for all. toward the end, you said, we seek your judgment expressing that conscience and reaffirming under law the basic rights of man. my feelings
expressed at that time have not changed. i am a lawyer. that is all i ever wanted to be. i felt that the nuremberg trial case ineinsatzgruppen particular, was an opportunity and obligation to advance that law. if it is going to have any significance, it must have more than merely executing 22 people for murdering a million people. , there is compare nothing that could be done for these defendants which would expiate in any way the magnitude of the crime of that size. i struggled with that problem is a young man. at that time, a french headline said that the prosecutor could have demanded their heads. emande their heads, is what one french newspaper falsely
reported was my opening statement. that was not my opening statement, though i had such feelings. it had to have significance, or they died for nothing. the idea of creating a rule of law where all persons, and i talk about mankind, but it also meant women kind, where all persons could in peace and dignity, regardless of their race or creed. .hat idea, remained with me it remained with me to this day. myould say that most of life, not all of it, was dedicated to trying to make that a reality. there has been a madness and that. one human being sets out and says let's see what we can do to make this a world in which those conditions exist. when i was about 50 years of age, my kids are grown. i felt, now i can dedicate myself full-time to that.
i did not have to be so concerned about sending them to college, meeting their expenses. the.d, i will focus on i began to disassociate from my law practice. , andoted myself full-time by full-time i mean 50 hours or 60 hours a week, to those goals. the wayctical matter, that worked, we are to life again? -- where do i begin? i realized, there is a need for an international criminal court to deal against crimes against humanity. that humankind has a right to be protected from this kind of slaughter and abuse simply because of your race or religion. crimes against humanity was a crime that i was interested in. and a condemned such crimes, there was no court.
at nuremberg and subsequent no court.ere was similar crimes were committed in different places. no one talked about a quart. no talk of a court. the international community was looking the other way, including the jewish community. they didn't care. very little jewish concern. so, i began to work on international criminal court. the united nations was already working on that problem, ever since nuremberg, but had made no progress because the nations did not want it. until they had a definition of aggression, there was no use having a court. aggression is the biggest war crime. they had been fooling around with the definition of
aggression for 30 years or 40 years. they worked on it first to get it out of the way. a differentare story. it seemed to need to be absurd that the international legal community was unable to define aggression. i began to work on that problem. beginning ofthe time, and read and study everything that is ever been written or said. i began to lobby at the united the special committee was going nowhere. i got access, i obtained a pass, to the united nations. i obtained several passes from clients and was able to go to all of the meetings. i met with the delegates and presented papers for them, coached them, spoke, lobbied, aote articles, and to make long story short, they agreed on definition of
aggression. it was a good friday in 1974, i think, 1972 -- 1974. i came home and said, you come with me to the united nations. they will reach a consensus definition on aggression for the first time in 50 years. it will be the sixth committee of the united nations committee on aggression. a votebeen prepared, and on the consensus definition on aggression. i said that around. no one was there, it was the evening. the two of us were in the rear section of the hall. i said, you see? the only twoall, people not paid to be here are you and me. a historic occasion. i wrote a two-volume book on the definition of aggression
spelling out the background. work on thesic definition of aggression. i said, now i will go on to the international criminal court. they were working on a court, but getting nowhere. i wrote a two-volume book on the international criminal court laying up the history, argumentation, how to create such a court, and everything else. that came out in 1975, right after the definition. nobody read the book or paid attention. i said, all right. i tell them how, they are not interested. -- andyou enforce i force international law. i wrote a two-volume book. someone said, why do you keep writing to volumes? i said it was because my typewriter was so high and i needed something for it to sit on. that was a joke.
it was a very useful tool, and that's what it was intended to be. still, no one was paying attention. i wrote another book am in a commonsense guide to world peace. callinganother book on in the russians comparing notes from russian experts. i kept writing books and articles. nations, theunited meetings, keeping abreast of what was going on. nothing much was happening. crimes are being committed everywhere. sometimes i thought i had gotten the government moving, in bangladesh thousands of women were being raped. i said they were going to set up a court. they didn't pay me, but i was advising them. in the end, they said it was a reconciliation and let's forget it. crimes continued. -- we had aavia genocide all over again.
before that, we had saddam hussein. a clear case of aggression and all kinds of war crimes. a clear case including rape, pillage, murder, environmental degradations -- with had not been listed as a crime but for. all kinds of things in the international community did not chase them out. saddam hussein, they allowed him to remain. i was screaming bloody murder, saying you are encouraging criminality and you have the trade american people who risk their lives to go into the desert, and then you did not have the courage to follow through to create a more peaceful world. by punishing those responsible. instead you are punishing the civilian population. here sanctions star them. he does not go hungry. most people were not interested.
you are interested in scandal, rock stars, football players, scholars. in yugoslavia, ethnic cleansing got a very popular. states that we cannot get involved. our fingers were burned with somalia. states government was opposed to an international court, or doing anything. medium, because of television, and the opportunity of the public to see people get on television and say, as i heard one man's day, i rate doesn't of muslim women, then i cut their throats. dozens of muslim women, then i cut their throats. that is what my commander told me to do. american women began to scream "do something."
the american government said, what can we do? let's set up a court. so, they set up a court for yugoslavia, war crimes in the yugoslavia. limited to yugoslavia after 1991, which is preposterous. when the general assembly approved the draft statute for that court, i was in geneva at a meeting of the international law commission. i'm not a member, i was there doing my usual lobbying. a proud moment was when the statutes came through. one of the staff members brought it to me and said, this is your work. times when there is progress made. it may take a long time, it is slow progress. it is limited to have a limited jurisdiction. we need a permanent international court, and i'm working on that. there is a gap in the
international legal order. , security council, is a comprehensive bringing together of 20 years of careful thought. i share with the public. all of my royalties are given away. i will not make a penny on this book. that book is out to educate the public on the need for planetary thinking. there will be no peace for anyone, anywhere, until there is peace everywhere. that is my conviction. i tried to avail the blueprint, specifically, including security council resolutions to achieve that goal. it is feasible without amending the u.n. charger. and afraid to tear it up
start again, because i see the anarchy in the former soviet union in yugoslavia. it is dangerous. canle will die before we put it together again. i am trying to interpret the laws and lay numerals rules to make it more democratic and more fair. that is my thinking in my new book. now that i am pushing 75, i hope the time will come for me to close my book and say this is my effort to create a more humane and peaceful world for all men to live in peace and dignity. it is not a matter of patients. it is a drive. a calling. it is not a job. it is not something i set out to do. it is something that happens. say it is something
that requires my patients. at no patience for anything else. i cannot explain that. it may be part of the delayed syndrome that they have written about. >> did you read a short excerpt from one of the letters that you wrote to your wife on war crimes? [in honorable] [inaudible] -- mr. ferencz: i have one right here. to my darling, it says. she saved all of the letters
that i wrote from the front, scenes in the concentration camps. letters were saved. they were saved in their original envelopes. at that time you were not about to write where you were. i smuggled these out by some means that i don't remember, but i was giving it to an officer that was going to another country to put it in the mailbox. she has it with the envelopes and stamps. theof these that relate to holocaust have been given to the holocaust museum and can be found there. this is one that is reasonably typical. it is on a covering note for a longer report, i don't know how many pages the longer report is, much more detail. i say, this is a case i wrote about long ago, i must have written about it in may while
the war was still on. near the czechwn border in germany. when a liberated french pw told me about having to dig a hole. they pointed out the spot. it had already been covered over. the old lady at the farmhouse told you about seeing the ss group of weary men into the woods. they were part of the 15,000 marched out of the fax number concentration camp going for. how. the farmer's wife heard the shots as they rang out in brief intervals. the farmer and his sons told statements about how they had covered the bodies with jerk to prevent disease. i sent the photographers to the spot. must having closed pictures.
i am sure the holocaust memorial of thehas the pictures bodies i helped uncover. i hope they will not scare you, but the pictures can only give a small indication of what it was like. i just want to get the things off my hands. use them in any way you like, and i hope they will not keep you awake. in case you cannot find the more detailed letter, these murdered men were murdered prisoners of every nationality. they were murdered because they were too tired to continue the march successfully. for themnot even wait to fall. they just marched them into the woods for slaughter. these were non-jews. jews were also included. i thinkhappy note -- you for the opportunity to record this piece of history.
we hope that the next world will be a better one. i thank you all. [inaudible] announcer: you're watching american history tv. 48 hours every weekend on c-span3. follow us on twitter. >> each week until the 2016 presidential election, american history tv will bring you archival coverage of past presidential candidates. next, we look back at the 1988 campaign of massachusetts governor michael dukakis who visited a farmers market in cedar rapids, iowa. he finished third in the 808i look caucus is but went on to to the democratic nomination face george h.w. busin