The former secretary who worked at Stutthof concentration camp in Nazi-occupied Poland has gone on trial for murder.
Irmgard Furchner, 96, is accused of contributing to the deaths of 11,412 people between the years 1943 and 1945, during which time she worked as a secretary at the camp. Due to the fact that she started working there as an 18-year-old, Ms Furchner is being tried in a juvenile court.
The court in Itzehoe, a town in the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein, was read the indictment which accused Ms Furchner of working as the Chief Secretary to Paul Werner-Hoppe, a high-ranking Nazi official and the camp’s Commander, and “was contributory to the entire killing operation” at the camp.
The prosecution also stated that Ms Furchner would have assisted with the transport lists of detainees who would have been sent to Auschwitz concentration camp to be murdered, as well as radio messages and the dictation of Mr Hoppe’s orders and correspondence. Due to the compact layout of Stutthof, Ms Furchner’s key administrative position, and the unavoidable noises and smells caused by the murder of the victims in gas chambers, the defendant would have “been aware of all happenings”, the court heard.
Wolfgang Molkentin, defending, stated that Ms Furchner “does not deny the crimes of the Shoah…neither does she deny the terrible acts that took place as has once again been made clear to us all in the indictment. She simply rejects the charge around which this trial ultimately revolves, that she was personally guilty of a crime.”
Judge Dominik Groß has permitted the filming of the trial for historical reasons, a request that ordinarily might not have been granted, but has chosen to do so on the basis that it is “one of the worldwide last criminal trials related to crimes of the Nazi era”.
In September, Ms Furchner attempted to escape before the beginning of her trial. After missing the start of her trial, court spokesperson Frederike Milhoffer stated that an arrest warrant had been issued, stating: “She left her home early in the morning in a taxi in the direction of a metro station.” Mr Milhoffer announced hours later that she had been found and detained.