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Benjamin B. Ferencz collection

Document | Not Digitized | Accession Number: 1994.A.0037.21

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    The Benjamin B. Ferencz collection consists of the personal papers of Benjamin Ferencz, Chief Prosecutor of the Einsatzgruppen at the Nuremberg Trials. The collections includes materials relevant to the Second World War, the Nuremberg Trials, Holocaust-related restitution and indemnification issues, war crimes justice, the efforts to establish a permanent International Criminal Court for war crimes, and biographical information pertaining to Benjamin Ferencz.

    Series 1 includes Ferencz family biographical information, correspondence, notes, scrapbooks, identification documents, reports, yearbooks, diaries, educational certificates, notebooks, and other records related to the private life, career, and professional development of Benjamin and Gertrude Ferencz. Notably, the series includes letters from Benjamin Ferencz to Gertrude Ferencz that detail the capture, interrogation, and investigation of Karl Haberstock, Hitler's personal art dealer. The letters describe the theft of billions of dollars in art treasures throughout Europe. Most files are arranged in chronological order, but the contents of the Day Files are arranged in reverse chronological order.

    Series 2 includes correspondence, notes, scrapbooks, newspaper clippings, identification documents, essays, memoranda, reports, photographs, and other records related to war crimes in general, and the Einsatzgruppen war crimes trial in particular. The series also includes transcript volumes from the Nuremberg Trials. Most files are arranged in chronological order.

    Series 3 includes correspondence, newspaper clippings, memoranda, notes, essays, reports, and other documents pertaining to Ferencz's professional association with B'nai B'rith. The material primarily concerns Ferencz's efforts to obtain restitution for real, material, and capital property lost by B'nai B'rith during World War II. Most files are arranged in chronological order.

    Series 4 includes notes, correspondence, memoranda, telegrams, reports, and other documents related to Ferencz's legal representation of individual and group claims brought against German industrial firms after World War II. The material primarily concerns the efforts of Ferencz to obtain restitution for slave laborers from the German industrial firms which forcibly employed them. Most files are arranged in chronological order.

    Series 5 consists of correspondence related to Ferencz's efforts to obtain restitution for slave laborers employed by Nazi industrial firms during the war. The series also includes notes, drafts, research materials, annotated copies, and other materials related to the publication of Ferencz's monograph, Less Than Slaves. Most files are arranged in chronological order.

    Series 6 pertains to efforts of Ferencz and others to obtain restitution from the German Democratic Republic (former East Germany) for victims of Nazi oppression. The series details the legal arguments Ferencz and others made to this end. The case was argued until the reunification of Germany in 1990. The series also contains clippings from national and international news agencies, as well as correspondence from United States Ambassador Rozanne LeJeane Ridway. Most files are arranged in chronological order.

    Series 7 includes correspondence, notes, memoranda, and news clippings related to the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, Inc. (Claims Conference) The Conference existed to aid Jewish persons and organizations victimized by Nazi persecution in matters relating to the restitution of personal and property rights. The series notably includes materials related to the Goldmann Hardship Fund. The Fund was established in 1980 for victims of Nazi persecution who emigrated from East Europe after 1965 (the cutoff date for restitution claims). Most files are arranged in chronological order.

    Series 8 consists of correspondence related to the Jewish Restitution Successor Organization. Primarily, the correspondence deals with internal JRSO matters, such as funding and operations budgets. The series includes materials detailing the disposition of the desecrated Jewish cemetery at Fulda and Ferencz's efforts to arrive at a solution that violated neither civil nor Talmudic law. Also included in the series is the court decision of URSO vs. Augsburg; a case concerning the destruction of 800 synagogues in Bavaria and Hesse and the resulting obligations for restitution. Most files are arranged in chronological order.

    Series 9 contains correspondence, notes, critical reviews, and draft letters related to Dr. Walter Schwarz's “Rückerstattung nach den Gesetzen der Alliierten Mächte”, a history of restitution. Also included are correspondence and notes related to the publication of a pamphlet on the history of the United Restitution Organization (URO) by Norman Bentwich. Most files are arranged in chronological order.

    Series 10 chiefly contains correspondence between Ferencz and others involved with the United Restitution Organization Ltd., regarding URO budgetary matters; together with notes, financial statements, reports, memoranda, minutes of board meetings, board meeting agendas, URO staff lists, URO salary schedules, and independent auditor reports as to the disposition of URO operations expenses and capital obligations. Also included are files of several precedent setting cases which either altered, or significantly influenced URO policy, including those of David Karpf, Genia Rotenstein, Lucien Ludwig Kozminski, and Violet Dattner. Most files are arranged in chronological order.

    Series 11 chiefly contains correspondence concerning the (West) German Federal Indemnification Act of 1965 (Bundesentschädigungsgesetz or BEG), its synthesis, amendments, and implementing regulations, together with correspondence concerning the United States War Claims Act of 1948 and the German American Social Security Agreement. Each legislative action was designed to provide compensation for the deprivation of life and liberty and related persecution measures. The series also includes the diary of Moses A. Leavitt and correspondence to and from the United Restitution Organization (URO) director, Kurt May. Most files are arranged in chronological order.

    Series 12 chiefly contains correspondence, to and from Ferencz, concerning the efforts of Ferencz and others to obtain restitution for victims of Nazi medical experiments; together with memoranda, clippings, articles, affidavits, reports, power of attorney documents, and other papers detailing the nature of the medical experiments, efforts to obtain restitution, and the response of the German government. Of particular historical interest are materials relating to Dr. Hertha Oberheuser, the only female tried and convicted at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials. Most files are arranged in chronological order.

    Series 13 details the efforts of a variety of institutions and individuals including Ferencz in bringing about an international criminal court. Ferencz pressed the United Nations and other supranational institutions for the establishment of an International Criminal Court, both as the result of his experiences as a war crimes prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials, as well as his convictions rising from his personal response to the Vietnam War in general, and the My Lai massacre in particular. The series includes correspondence, memoranda, pamphlets, speeches, articles, news clippings, United Nations publications, legislative publications, and newsletters. Most files are arranged in chronological order.

    Series 14 chiefly contains correspondence, newsletters, financial reports, meeting agendas, meeting minutes, and other materials related to the American Society of International Law (ASIL), an organization dedicated to educating and engaging the public in international law and to advance international law as a vehicle for resolving international disputes. The Series also includes syllabi for law courses taught by Ferencz at Pace Law School (Pace University), as well as copies of speeches by Ferencz, and documents related to the Peace Center at Pace University, where Ferencz was Executive Director. Most files are arranged in chronological order.

    Series 15 pertains to Ferencz's efforts at advancing the cause of universal human rights and primarily includes correspondence between Ferencz and other individuals and organizations involved in human rights. This series also includes news clippings, articles, essays, public statements by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other organizations, memoranda, draft copies of scholarly submissions, ACLU activity reports, and other miscellaneous materials concerning human rights. Most files are arranged in chronological order.

    Series 16 pertains to Ferencz's efforts at advancing the cause of world peace. Primarily includes correspondence between Ferencz and other individuals and organizations involved in promoting international dialogue and cooperation as a means of conflict resolution. It also includes news clippings, articles, essays, meeting agenda, financial reports for world peace organizations, meeting minutes, memoranda, and other miscellaneous materials concerning world peace. It includes correspondence and other materials related to Ferencz's active solicitation for a position with the United States Institute of Peace. Most files are arranged in chronological order.

    Series 17 pertains to speeches, television and radio interviews, and other public appearances Ferencz gave regarding the history of the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials process, and to advance the cause of world peace, and the formation of a permanent International Criminal Court. The series also contains a bibliography, meeting agenda and minutes from the Consortium on Peace, Research, Education, and Development (COPRED) meetings. Most files are arranged in chronological order.

    Series 18 largely consists of previously published materials, together with notes, correspondence, clippings, pamphlets, and other ephemeral materials peripherally related to the Benjamin B. Ferencz collection as a whole. Most of the files are arranged in alphabetical order.

    Series 19 consists of more than 300 photographs, primarily in black and white, spanning 1926-1990. The photographs relate to a wide variety of topics pertaining, primarily, to the life and career of Ferencz, World War II, and the Nuremberg Trials. Many of the photographs are annotated, and some are annotated by Ferencz.
    inclusive:  1919-1994
    Collection Creator
    Benjamin B. Ferencz
    Benjamin Berell Ferencz (1920-2023) was born in Șomcuta Mare, Romania (Nagysomkút, Hungary) on March 11, 1920 to Joseph and Sarah Ferencz. At the time, Șomcuta Mare was part of Hungary, but was occupied by Romania. The city was ceded to Romania under the Treaty of Trianon shortly after Benjamin’s birth, and the Ferencz family immigrated to the United States at the end of 1920 and settled in New York City. Ferencz received a Bachelor of Science in Social Science from the City College of New York in 1940, and a law degree from Harvard Law School in 1943. Ferencz served in the United States Army from 1943-1945. During that time he held several positions, including with the anti-aircraft artillery battalion and the War Crimes Branch of the Army.

    After the war, the US Government recruited Ferencz to join a team working on the Nuremberg trials. Ferencz was sent to Berlin with a team to investigate official Nazi records, which would later be used in the trials, and was later appointed Chief Prosecutor for the Einsatzgruppen Trial. After the trial, Ferencz fought for compensation for victims and survivors and continued to dedicate his life to ending war and promoting Justice. He authored numerous monographs, articles, and commentaries, primarily on matters of international law, the need for an international criminal court, and world peace.

    Ferencz served in a variety of positions related to the Holocaust. Some of those positions included Executive Counsel, Office of the Chief of Counsel for War Crimes, Nuremberg, 1946-1948; Chief Prosecutor for the United States in the war crimes trial against Nazi extermination squads, 1947; Director General, Jewish Restitution Successor Organization, 1948-1956; Director of Operations, United Restitution Organization, Ltd., 1954-1956; Special Legal Advisor at Hague reparations negotiations, Germany-Israel, 1952; Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, 1953-1956; Counsel, International Council of B'nai B'rith, 1958-1961; Counsel, American Oeuvre de Secours aux Enfants, 1959-1961; and numerous other councils and conferences related to the Holocaust. He held the position of Adjunct Professor of International Law at Pace University in White Plains, New York, and was the founder and Executive Director of the Peace Center.

    Ferencz married Gertrude Ferencz Fried (1919-2019) in 1946, and had four children: Carol, Robin Donald, and Nina. He passed away in Florida on April 7, 2023.

    Physical Details

    31 videotape.
    34 audiocassette.
    171 boxes
    41 oversize boxes
    4 oversize folders
    3 book enclosures
    System of Arrangement
    The Benjamin B. Ferencz collection is arranged as 19 series with additional subseries.

    Series 1: Ferencz family biographical information, 1919-1993 (12.001)
    Subseries 1: Benjamin B. Ferencz biographical, education, and career information, 1933-1993 (12.001.01)
    Subseries 2: Gertrude F. Ferencz biographical, education, and career information, 1919-1972 (12.001.02)
    Subseries 3: General Correspondence, 1944-1994 (12.001.03)
    Subseries 4: Mitzvah correspondence file ("good deeds"), 1956-1994 (12.001.04)
    Subseries 5: Day files, 1955-1973 (12.001.05)
    Series 2: War crime trials and related papers. 1939-1994
    Subseries 1: International Military Tribunal and Einsatzgruppen trial related records, 1945-1993 (12.002.01)
    Subseries 2: War crime trial related records, 1939-1994 (12.002.02)
    Subseries 3: War trials: United States of America v. Otto Ohlendorf
    Series 3: B'nai B'rith records, 1937-1994 (12.003)
    Subseries 1: B'nai B'rith correspondence, 1956-1978 (12.003.01)
    Subseries 2: B'nai B'rith International Council correspondence, 1959-1970 (12.003.02)
    Subseries 3: B'nai B'rith International Council Plenary Sessions proceedings, 1960-1968 (12.003.03)
    Subseries 4: B'nai B'rith International Council, Survey, 1960-1968 (12.003.04)
    Subseries 5: B'nai B'rith International Council Executive Committee meetings, 1960-1966 (12.003.05)
    Subseries 6: B'nai B'rith war damage claims records, 1959-1994 (12.003.06)
    Subseries 7: Foreign Claims Settlement Commission records, 1960-1980 (12.003.07)
    Subseries 8: B'nai B'rith records relating to lodges, 1937-1972 (12.003.08)
    Subseries 9: Miscellaneous B'nai B'rith records, 1937-1971 (12.003.09)
    Subseries 10: Publications, 1959-1978 (12.003.10)
    Subseries 11: B'nai B'rith research notes, 1958 (12.003.11)
    Series 4: Claims against industrial firms records, 1941-1994 (12.004)
    Subseries 1: General correspondence, 1957-1961 (12.004.01)
    Subseries 2: Claims against Allgemeine Elektricitäts Gesellschaft (AEG), 1957-1972 (12.004.02)
    Subseries 3: Claims against Argus TheMaschinbau 1962 (12.004.03)
    Subseries 4: Claims against Auto Union A. G. 1962-1989 (12.004.04)
    Subseries 5: Claims against Braunkohle-Benzin Aktiengesellschaft Berlin, 1957-1969 (12.004.05)
    Subseries 6: Claims against Büssing-Werke 1957- 1965 (12.004.06)
    Subseries 7: Claims against Daimler-Benz 1941-1990 (12.004.07)
    Subseries 8: Claims against Dynamit-Nobel records, 1962-1992 (12.004.08)
    Subseries 9: Claims against Hansa Werke (12.004.09)
    Subseries 10: Claims against Ernst Heinkel A. G., 1957-1976 (12.004.10)
    Subseries 11: Claims against Philip Holzman, 1955-1968 (12.004.11)
    Subseries 12: I. G. Farbenindustrie records, 1952-1994 (12.004.12)
    Subseries 13: Claims against Kabel, 1960 (12.004.13)
    Subseries 14: Claims against Krupp International, 1957-1984 (12.004.14)
    Subseries 15: Claims against Messerschmidt-Bölkow-Blohm, 1962-1990 (12.004.15)
    Subseries 16: Claims against Messerschmidt (Willi Messerschmidt), 1961-1984(12.004.16
    Subseries 17: Claims against Moll A. G., 1957-1963 (12.004.17)
    Subseries 18: Claims against Rheinmetall-Borsig AG, 1957-1989 (12.004.18)
    Subseries 19: Claims against Siemens AG, 1957-1991 (12.004.19)
    Subseries 20: Claims against Telefunken, 1957-1964 (12.004.20)
    Subseries 21: Claims against Compensation Treuhand G.m.b.H., 1976-1990 (12.004.21)
    Subseries 22: Claims against Volkswagen AG 12.004.22
    Subseries 23: Claims against Westfälische Metallindustrie KG 12.004.23
    Subseries 24: Claims against Würtembergische Metallwaren Fabrik 12.004.24
    Series 5: Slave labor related records, 1957-1994 (12.005)
    Subseries 1: Correspondence relating to slave labor, 1962-1993 (12.005.01)
    Subseries 2: Max Stein case, 1963-1964 (12.005.02)
    Subseries 3: Drafts and Notes for the book, 1957-1987 Less Than Slaves (12.005.03)
    Series 6: Claims against the East German Republic, 1972-1991 (12.006)
    Series 7: Records relating to the Conference On Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, Inc., 1952-1993 (12.007)
    Subseries 1: Correspondence 1952-1993 (12.007.01)
    Subseries 2: Records Relating to the Goldman Hardship Fund 1972-1990
    Subseries 3: Special Trust Fund Reports. 1962-1973 (12.007.03) (12.007.02)
    Series 8: Correspondence and related records regarding the Jewish Restitution Successor Organization, 1938--1993 (12.008)
    Series 9: Correspondence, related records, and clippings regarding the history of restitution (Wiedergutmachung), 1957-1989 (12.009)
    Series 10: United Restitution Organization budget files, 1948-1993 (12.010)
    Subseries 1: United Restitution Organization chronological files, 1962-1993 (12.010.01)
    Subseries 2: URO "Legal" Correspondence 1948-1992 (12.010.02)
    Subseries 3: Records Relating to Genia Rotenstein v. Federal Republic of Germany1984-1990
    Subseries 4: Records Relating to URO Branches 1961-1993 (12.010.04)
    Series 11: Correspondence and related records regarding the Bundesentscheadigundsgesetz (BEG), the War Claims Act of 1948, and the German-American Social Security Agreement, 1948-1992 (12.011)
    Subseries 1: Correspondence Relating to the Bundesentschädigungsgesetz (BEG) ([German] Federal Indemnification Law) 1967-1992 (12.011.01)
    Subseries 2: Statistical Reports 1971-1983 (12.011.02)
    Subseries 3: Reference Materials Regarding Indemnification 1950-1988 (12.011.03)
    Subseries 4: Correspondence and Related Records Regarding the German-American Social Security Agreement (Deutsche-amerikanische Sozialversicherungsabkommen) 1966-1983 (12.011.04)
    Subseries 5: Correspondence and Related Records Regarding Amendments to the War Claims Act of 1948, 1948-1982 (12.011.05)
    Series 12: Correspondence and related records regarding restitution for victims of medical experiments,1946-1990 (12.012)
    Subseries 1: Correspondence and Related Records Regarding the New York Association for New American (NYANA) (12.012.01)
    Subseries 2: Correspondence and Other Records with the Association Nationale des Anciennes Déportées et Internées de la Résistance (ADIR), Relating to Compensation for Victims of Medical Experimentation (12.012.02)
    Series 13: Correspondence and other records regarding the establishment of an International Criminal
    Court 1949-1992 (12.013)
    Subseries 1: Correspondence and Miscellaneous Records Concerning Vespasian V. Pella (12.013.01)
    Subseries 2: International Criminal Court Reference Subject File (12.013.02)
    Series 14: Records regarding international law, 1956-1993 (12.014)
    Subseries 1: Correspondence and Related Records (12.014.01)
    Subseries 2: American Society of International Law Committee Meeting, Apr 16, 1974 (12.014.02)
    Subseries 3: American Society of International Law Human Rights (12.014.03)
    Subseries 4: Bar and International Law Association (12.014.04)
    Subseries 5: PACE Law School and Peace Center (12.014.05)
    Subseries 6: Studies on International Law (12.014.06)
    Series 15: Correspondence regarding human rights, 1962-1983 (12.015)
    Series 16: Correspondence and other records regarding world peace organizations, 1977-1994 (12.016)
    Series 17: Speech file, 1977-1991 (12.017)
    Series 18: Alphabetical subject reference file, 1939-1994 (12.018)
    Subseries 1: Alphabetical Reference Subject File (12.018.01)
    Subseries 2: Articles and Books by Benjamin Ferencz (12.018.02)
    Subseries 3: Book Annotation(12.018.03)
    Series 19: Photographs, 1926-1990

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    The 31 videotapes and 34 audiocassettes listed in the extent note have not been cataloged and cannot be accessed. There are no known restrictions on access to the rest of the material.
    Conditions on Use
    Material(s) in this collection may be protected by copyright and/or related rights. You do not require further permission from the Museum to use this material. The user is solely responsible for making a determination as to if and how the material may be used.

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    The Benjamin B. Ferencz Collection was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in two donations by Benjamin B. Ferencz in 1994. The accessions formerly cataloged as 1994.A.0037.1-19 and 1994.97.6.1-.27 have been incorporated into this collection.
    Funding Note
    Digitization of this collection has been supported in part by a grant from Iron Mountain.
    Primary Number
    Record last modified:
    2024-03-21 09:41:12
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