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Germany: Former Nazi camp secretary sentenced to two years probation

Germany: Former Nazi camp secretary sentenced to two years probation

Germany: Former Nazi camp secretary sentenced to two years probation

On Tuesday, the 97-year-old former secretary of the concentration camp was given a two-year suspended prison sentence. This is one of the last trials of the Nazi era in Germany (1933-1945).

Irmgard Furchner, accused of complicity in the murders in more than 10,000 cases at the Stutthof concentration camp in what is now Poland, has been on trial at the Itzehoe Court in northern Germany since September 2021. This conviction is in line with the demands of the prosecution, which stressed the “extraordinary historical significance” of this trial, with a predominantly “symbolic” verdict.

The ninety-year-old in a white cap was present at the announcement of the verdict, which she listened to while sitting in a wheelchair. She did not appear before the court, except for one of the most recent hearings in December, where she expressed regret. “I regret everything that happened. I regret being in Stutthof at the time,” she said.

She tried to escape early in the trial

Irmgard Furchner became the first woman in decades to be tried in Germany for crimes committed under the Nazis. She tried to avoid trial by running away on the opening day of the hearing. She left her apartment in the nursing home in a taxi, but did not appear in court. She was found a few hours later.

At the time, Irmgard Furchner, aged between 18 and 19, who worked as a typist and secretary for camp commandant Paul Werner Hoppe, occupied an “essential position” in the camp’s inhumane system, prosecutor Maxi Wantzen said in his requisitions. Her lawyers sought her acquittal, given that it had not been proven that she knew about the systematic killings at Stutthof. Due to her age at the time of the events, Irmgard Furchner appeared before a special youth court.

He died of hunger, thirst, disease, and exhaustion from forced labor.

In Stutthof, a camp near Gdańsk (at that time Danzig), where about 65,000 people died, “Jewish prisoners, Polish partisans and Soviet prisoners of war” were systematically killed. Throughout the trial, several survivors testified, believing, according to the prosecutor, that “it was their duty to speak out, even if they had to overcome their pain to do so.” They lived in catastrophic conditions designed to kill them slowly.

Most of the prisoners died from starvation, thirst, diseases such as typhus, and exhaustion from forced labor. For the execution of the weakest, the camp had gas chambers and another place typical of Nazi Germany, where the victim was shot in the neck under the pretext of a medical examination. According to the prosecutor, the crimes committed would not have been possible without the office system, one of the cogs of which was Irmgard Furchner. She enjoyed the trust of the commander and had access to all documents considered confidential.

Seventy-seven years after the end of the Second World War (1939-1945), Germany continues to search for still living former Nazi criminals, which testifies to the increased, albeit belated, severity of its justice. Very few women involved in Nazi crimes were brought to justice. The personal secretary of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, Traudl Junge, was not investigated until her death in 2002.

The judicial practice of convicting in 2011 the guard of the Sobibor camp (Poland) Jan Demjanjuk in 1943 to five years in prison now makes it possible to prosecute any concentration camp employee for complicity in tens of thousands of murders, from a guard to an accountant. In June, a 101-year-old former guard at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp (north of Berlin) was sentenced to five years in prison.

Source: Le Parisien

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