Trial begins in Germany for 96-year-old former Nazi death camp secretary

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A 96-year-old former Nazi concentration camp secretary who escaped before her trial began is due to appear in court in Germany on Tuesday.

Irmgard Furchner, the first woman to be prosecuted for Nazi-era crimes in decades, is charged with complicity in the murder of more than 10,000 people in the Stutthof camp in occupied Poland.

However, the court issued an arrest warrant in the northern city of Itzehoe after Furchner left the retirement home where he lives on September 30, when his trial was scheduled to begin, and made his way to a subway station.

The retiree managed to evade the police for several hours before being arrested in the nearby city of Hamburg and temporarily detained by the authorities.

Furchner was released five days later “on the condition of precautionary measures,” said court spokeswoman Frederike Milhoffer, adding that “she was assured that she (Furchner) will appear at the next appointment.”

According to media reports, the accused has been affixed with an electronic tag to monitor her whereabouts.

Camp secretary

Between June 1943 and April 1945, the defendant worked in the office of Camp Commander Paul Werner Hoppe. Prosecutors say she took dictation of the SS officer’s orders and handled his correspondence.

Approximately 65,000 people died in the Stutthof camp near Gdansk, including “Jewish prisoners, Polish partisans and Soviet Russian prisoners of war,” according to the indictment.

A teenager at the time the alleged crimes were committed, Furchner’s trial is taking place in juvenile court.

In a letter sent before her first scheduled hearing, the defendant told the presiding judge that she did not want to appear in person in the dock.

His latest failure to appear demonstrated “contempt for the survivors and also for the rule of law,” the vice president of the Auschwitz International Committee, Christoph Heubner, told AFP.

“Healthy enough to run away, healthy enough to go to jail!” Tweeted Efraim Zuroff, an American-Israeli “Nazi hunter” who has played a key role in bringing former war criminals to trial. Nazis.

The secretary to the commander of Stutthof conc. The camp was supposed to face charges today for assisting in the murder of 11,000 inmates. Instead, she fled. Healthy enough to run away, healthy enough to go to jail!

– Efraim Zuroff (@EZuroff) September 30, 2021

Delayed justice

Around the same time that Furchner fled his trial, a 100-year-old former Nazi concentration camp guard appeared before judges in a court in Neuruppin, northwest of Berlin.

Josef Schuetz, who is accused of assisting in the murder of 3,518 prisoners in the Sachsenhausen camp between 1942 and 1945, told the court that he was “innocent” and “knows nothing” about what happened in the camp.

Along with Furchner, the two are among the oldest defendants to face trial for their alleged role in the Nazi system.

Seventy-six years after the end of World War II, time is running out to bring people to justice.

Prosecutors are investigating eight other cases, according to the Central Office for the Investigation of National Socialist Crimes.

In recent years, several cases have been dropped because the defendant died or could not be physically tried.

The latest guilty verdict was issued against former SS guard Bruno Dey, who received a two-year suspended sentence in July at the age of 93.

(AFP)