A German court tries a nonagenarian former secretary of the Stutthof Nazi concentration camp, on Polish territory, for complicity in the murder of 11,380 prisoners, in a process whose start had to be postponed after the defendant fled.
Irmgard Furchner was arrested on September 30 a few hours after failing to appear before the Provincial Court of Itzehoe, where the trial for complicity in the systematic murder of prisoners in the Stutthof camp was to begin, where she was a stenographer and typist for the command between 1943. and 1945.
Apparently, the woman had already announced in early September in a handwritten letter addressed to the court her intention not to appear due to her advanced age and “physical limitations” with the request to be represented by her attorney.
After her arrest in Hamburg on September 30, the old woman spent four days in preventive detention and was released after the defense appealed the measure. Today it is expected that the accusation will be read.
The accused is represented by a public defender, while 14 other lawyers represent the civil party, with 30 witnesses, including survivors from the Stutthof camp from Poland and Israel. Furchner had already testified several times as a witness, the first time in 1954, about his role in the Stutthof concentration camp.
On that occasion stated that all correspondence with the SS headquarters had passed through his hands and that the camp commander, Paul-Werner Hoppe, dictated daily writings and radio messages to him.
At the time he assured, however, that during his service in the field he had never been aware of the murderous machinery to which tens of thousands of people fell victim.
He also testified in the trial against Hoppe, who in 1957 was sentenced by the Bochum Provincial Court to nine years of pressure that he finally did not have to comply with in full.
From witness to accused
Since 2016, the Itzehoe Prosecutor’s Office has investigated Furchner for complicity in murder in the Stutthof camp.
The old woman, for her part, described the accusations as ridiculous, said she did not understand the meaning of a process against her at the end of her life and said she had a clear conscience because she had not killed anyone.
The afternoon of her arrest on September 30, the old woman already testified about the facts that are charged with her and assured that she had worked in the Stutthof camp only in the administration, points out the regional public channel NDR.
Furchner will be tried by a juvenile court, as the events for which she is accused took place when she was a teenager.
In the Stutthof concentration camp, near Gdansk, died during the World War II about 65,000 prisoners, among them many Jews, mainly from weakness and illness.
At least 200 prisoners were killed by Cyclone B in the gas chamber and inside a closed train car and another 30 gunshot to the back of the neck in a secret place located in the crematorium.
In July 2020, a 93-year-old former Stutthof guard was sentenced to a symbolic two-year probation sentence. for complicity in murder in 5,230 cases, a sentence that is governed by the penal code applicable to minors, since he was accused of events that took place when he was 17 years old.