Holocaust survivor makes human rights his life’s work

1 February 2018

From the ghetto in Nazi-occupied Poland to the concentration camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau and Sachsenhausen, American Judge Thomas Buergenthal began life with all odds stacked against him.

Yet, his indomitable spirit pushed him through the Second World War and the atrocities of the Holocaust, in which six million Jews were systematically murdered.

Judge Buergenthal, now 83, served at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, the UN Human Rights Committee, and was the first US national to be elected to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

The activist was in New York this week to deliver the keynote address at the UN’s annual ceremony marking the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust.

Judge Buergenthal spoke to Liz Scaffidi about how he survived the Auschwitz Death March and other horrors in the camps.

He began by recounting a harrowing incident witnessed while just a child.

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