Born: 1934, Lubochna, Czechoslovakia
Describes the significance of Nuremberg both personally and as a lawyer and judge [Interview: 2005]
I will answer the question about what I find interesting about Nuremberg not as international judge or international lawyer, but from a personal point of view. To me it showed that it was possible, that things we did not think possible in the camps -- at least many of us didn't, that one day, these people would pay for what they had done -- proved possible, when they were in the dock. That is to victims extremely important and I think, now switching to being an international lawyer, it is very important for the world to see, for retributive purposes, that some of the most powerful people in the world, who at least think they are the most powerful people, they one day have to account for their crimes, and that is refreshing. And vital. It's really very important when one wants to establish international system, international laws, to be able to point to some concrete examples.
Now an international judge, Thomas Buergenthal was one of the youngest survivors of the Auschwitz and Sachsenhausen concentration camps. He emigrated to the United States at the age of 17. He has served as judge and president of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, and as a member of the United Nations Truth Commission for El Salvador. Buergenthal was chairman of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum's Committee on Conscience. Buergenthal became a member of the International Court of Justice in March 2000, a seat he still occupies.
US Holocaust Memorial Museum