A 97-year-old former Nazi camp secretary has been convicted by German court
Irmgard Furchner was 18 when she began working at the Stutthof concentration camp in 1943. On Tuesday, she was convicted as an accessory to murder in more than 10,500 deaths
A 97-year-old woman, who worked as a secretary at a concentration camp for a Nazi commander, was convicted by a German court on Tuesday as an accessory to the murder of more than 10,500 people, according to the BBC.
Irmgard Furchner was 18 when she began working as a secretary at the Stutthof concentration camp, where she worked from 1943 to 1945. She is the first woman to be tried for Nazi crimes in decades, and could be one of the last, per The Washington Post.
Furchner was under 21 at the time of the alleged crime, so she was charged as a juvenile. And although she was a civilian employee, the judge believes she was aware of what went on at the concentration camp.
According to NPR, Furchner allegedly “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 was given a two-year suspended jail sentence. Her defense lawyers asked for their client to be acquitted, claiming that evidence did not prove Furchner knew about the systematic killings at the camp and arguing that she did not meet the requirement for proof of intent, per NPR.
During her closing statement, Furchner told the court, “I’m sorry about everything that happened,” per the BBC. “I regret that I was in Stutthof at the time — that’s all I can say.”
In September 2021, Furchner left her home in Hamburg by taxi in an attempt to skip her trial, which was set to start hours later, reports NBC News.
Fuchner’s trial as a civilian worker for a Nazi camp was made possible by a 2011 court case that convicted an ex-Nazi guard, per The Washington Post. The landmark case set the precedent that any worker who plays a role in concentration camps can be charged as an accessory to murder.
According to the United States Holocaust Museum, more than 60,000 people died at Stutthof camp, near Danzig, which is now Gdansk, Poland. The camp was surrounded by barbed-wire electrical fences in a wet, wooded area near the Baltic coast. Many of the victims died in gas chambers or by lethal injection, and others from starvation and disease.