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Film Review: “Prosecuting Evil: The Extraordinary World of Ben Ferencz” (2018) ★★★★


It takes one person to start a devastating war that will eventually kill millions of people. It will also be up to one man who will be willing to punish those who felt they were above the law during the same war. Many lives were lost during WWII. Many more had no chance to learn that those who were responsible for their death have paid a great price for their crime. The same justice that was served was unable to bring back the lost lives abrupted in such a heinous way but it showed the world war criminals will be shown no mercy nor given an opportunity when law and order decide to declare hunting season on them.

“Prosecuting Evil” follows the extraordinary life of Benjamin Ferencz, how he moved to the United States as a child and years later becomes an investigator of Nazi war crimes after World War II and the chief prosecutor for the United States Army at the Einsatzgruppen Trial, one of the twelve military trials held by the U.S. authorities at Nuremberg, Germany. To be a prosecutor at a Nuremberg Trial, one of the biggest murder trials in history, is one thing but the Hungarian-born American lawyer had a bigger role to play in this world – to prosecute evil.

“Prosecuting Evil” is not an easy documentary to watch as the gruesome footages of killed people or those who were about to lose their life is something so difficult to comprehend, grasp, and process throughout the film. The situation at Nazi concentration camps or the stories being shared by Ben Ferencz through insightful interviews is what will stun you to the core no matter how many times you have repeatedly seen extremely heartbreaking archival footages or just heard stories. There is nothing that will prepare you or anyone else to go through the same nightmarish experience of WWII and its devilish acts against humanity.

And of course, this film will bring you everything you need to learn about the most outstanding and emotionally charged trial, and why Nuremberg was chosen as the only place felt right to host such a historic trial against individuals that have lost their cat-and-mouse game with law and order. Because the group of one of the most influential and brave prosecutors was ready to fight till the end to have them paid for what they have done, and Mr. Ferencz was one of them.

Written and directed by Barry Avrich, the film offers a look at why Ben Ferencz believes that by what was done at the Nuremberg Trial justice for humanity was availed. But more importantly, the film goes great lengths to show that the war has no bright sides no matter what. And what is being said by Mr. Ferencz, “stop making war before you kill everybody” is another way to look at what we do nowadays – the war takes claims lives we can’t replace. It brings more blood and devastation than happiness. And all for what? For a piece of land, a failed ideology, and belief that brings nothing but separation? And the question is – is it worth it? What you think or do is what matters. But in the big world of politics, it is another sad number they seem to keep willing to add without hesitation.

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