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A 96-Year-Old Who Worked At Nazi Camp Has Been Arrested After Skipping Trial

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A 96-Year-Old Who Worked At Nazi Camp Has Been Arrested After Skipping Trial

A woman who once worked as a secretary to the SS commander of the Stutthof concentration camp has been arrested after she skipped her trial in Germany.

Irmgard Furchner, 96, has been charged with more than 11,000 counts of accessory to murder, with prosecutors alleging she 'aided and abetted those in charge of the camp in the systematic killing of those imprisoned there between June 1943 and April 1945 in her function as a stenographer and typist in the camp commandant's office'.

She hadn't been held in custody ahead of the trial and left her Hamburg home in a taxi a few hours before it was scheduled to start, NPR reports.

Stutthof concentration camp. Credit: Alamy
Stutthof concentration camp. Credit: Alamy
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The court issued a warrant for her arrest and delayed the reading of her indictment until 19 October.

Court spokesperson Frederike Milhoffer said given the woman's age and condition, she had not been expected 'actively to evade the trial'.

Furchner had previously 'announced that she didn't want to come' to court, but the statement did not provide sufficient grounds for detaining her ahead of the trial, Milhoffer said.

Prosecutors say Furchner was part of the team that helped the Nazi Stutthof concentration camp - which was located in Poland - function during the Second World War.

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Despite now being 96, Furchner was to be tried in juvenile court because she was under the age of 21 when the alleged crimes happened.

Efraim Zuroff, head Nazi-hunter at the Simon Wiesenthal Centre's office in Jerusalem, told The Associated Press 'if she is healthy enough to flee, she is healthy enough to be incarcerated'.

Efraim Zuroff, head Nazi hunter at the Simon Wiesenthal Centre's office in Jerusalem. Credit: Alamy
Efraim Zuroff, head Nazi hunter at the Simon Wiesenthal Centre's office in Jerusalem. Credit: Alamy

He added that her skipping the trial 'should also affect the punishment'.

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Defence lawyer Wolf Molkentin told Der Spiegel magazine that the trial would centre on whether the 96-year-old had knowledge of the atrocities that happened at the camp.

He said: "My client worked in the midst of SS men who were experienced in violence - however, does that mean she shared their state of knowledge? That is not necessarily obvious."

Germany media has reported that Furchner had been questioned as a witness in previous Nazi trials and said at the time the former SS commandant of Stutthof, Paul Werner Hoppe, dictated daily letters and radio messages to her.

Furchner is also reported to have testified that she was not aware of the killings that occurred at the camp while she worked there.

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Around 6 million Jewish people were murdered between 1941 and 1945 across German-occupied Europe - which was around two-thirds of Europe's Jewish population.

Others incarcerated at the numerous concentration camps included political prisoners, accused criminals, people suspected of homosexual activity and Jehovah's Witnesses.

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: World News, holocaust, crime

Claire Reid
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