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Nazi secretary convicted of aiding more than 10,000 murders

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 20/12/2022 Sami Quadri
Irmgard 20/12/2022 © AP Irmgard 20/12/2022

A former typist at a Nazi concentration camp has been found guilty of having contributed to the murder of 10,505 people.

Irmgard Furchner was on trial at the Itzehoe state court in Germany, accused of having “aided and abetted those in charge in the systematic killing of those imprisoned there”.

She was between 18 and 19 years old at the time of the alleged crimes and was therefore being tried at a youth court.

On Tuesday, judge Dominik Gross said the defendant was guilty of being an accessory to the murder of 10,505 people, along with five cases of attempted murder in the Stutthof concentration camp.

She was handed a two-year suspended sentence.

Ms Furchner escaped the start of the trial in October after fleeing from her old people’s home, but was caught hours later in Hamburg.

She issued an apology as her 14-month trial drew to a close but refused to admit any guilt.

“I am sorry for everything that happened,” she previously told the court in northern Germany. “I regret that I was in Stutthof at that time. That’s all I can say.”

During the last two years of the war, Furchner was a typist for the commandant.

The prosecution said it was impossible that she did not know about the killings, as the office overlooked the camp and her job involved typing execution warrants, orders for the operation of the gas chambers and lists of prisoners earmarked for Auschwitz.

Prosecutor Maxi Wantzen said Ms Furchner had knowledge of all the events due to her work for the commandant of the Nazi camp near Danzig, and had been informed “down to the last detail” about all the murder methods there.

He said that through her work she ensured “the smooth functioning of the camp”.

The court heard that the suffering of victims sent to the gas chambers, including cries and jostling at the bolted doors, would have been “clearly audible” to all at the camp.

Wolf Molkentin, defending Ms Furchner, questioned whether she was fully informed about the murders simply because of her activity.

“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,” he is reported as saying.

Ms Furchner did not comment on the allegations. Between 1939 and 1945, some 65,000 people died of starvation, disease or in the gas chamber at the Stutthof camp, located in present-day Poland.

Ms Furchner is the first woman to be prosecuted for Nazi-era crimes in decades, as Germany moves to try anyone who served in concentration camps as an accessory to murder.


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