A 97-year-old former secretary to the SS commandant of Stutthof concentration camp has been found guilty of being an accomplice to 10,505 murders.

In perhaps the last Nazi war crimes trial, Irmgard Furchner appeared in court in Germany for more than a year as prosecutors laid out their case against her.

Judge Dominik Gross delivered the verdict on Tuesday morning and Itzehoe State Court sentenced Furchner to a two-year suspended prison sentence, German news agency dpa reported.

The former Nazi German Stutthof Concentration Camp in Sztutowo, Poland

He said the defendant was found guilty of aiding in the murder of 10,505 people, as well as five cases of attempted murder at the Stutthof concentration camp in present-day Poland.

Prosecutors say she “aided and abetted camp officials in the systematic murder of those imprisoned there between June 1943 and April 1945 in her capacity as stenographer and typist in the camp commandant’s office.”

Furchner largely declined to answer questions during the trial, but said in her closing statement that she was sorry about what happened and regretted being there at the time.

The so-called ‘evil secretary’ was just 18 when she went to work for the commandant of the Stutthof camp, where more than 60,000 people died.

She was convicted under juvenile law, due to her age at the time of the crimes.

Defense attorneys had called for his acquittal, saying the evidence had not shown beyond a doubt that Furchner knew of the systematic killings at the camp, meaning there was no evidence of intent required for criminal liability.

“There were bodies carted openly through the camp”

26 October 2021, Schleswig-Holstein, Itzehoe: The 96-year-old defendant Irmgard F. sits in the courtroom at the start of the trial day.  The trial against the former concentration camp secretary in the Itzehoe Regional Court continues.  The 96-year-old is accused of being an accessory to murder in more than 11,000 cases at the Stutthof concentration camp.  Photo by: Marcus Brandt/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images PIC:AP
Photo: AP

“It was impossible not to know what happened,” Stutthof survivor Manfred Goldberg told Sky News, disputing Furchner’s claim that she was unaware of the atrocities there. were taking place.

“There were bodies being transported openly through the camp.”

It was a defense many found hard to believe, said Sky News Europe correspondent Siobhan Robbins, who visited Stutthof and stood in the former secretary’s office, gazing out the window which offers a view of the camp.

“Historians tell us that sick, hungry and terrified prisoners passed the building every day. Some may have been stripped naked, but she claimed she did not see them, that she was not aware. Nor had she heard the screams of the gas chambers or been aware of the bodies hanging outside.

“And then there were the fires – first of the crematorium, which burned 24 hours a day, then, when that couldn’t keep up with demand, the Nazis stacked and burned bodies in heaps outside. The stench would have been horrible, impossible to miss.

“Nearly 80 years later, the lie has failed and the verdict of guilty has been returned – proving that justice has no time limit and that age is no defence.”

Stutthof Concentration Camp

Perhaps as many as 100,000 people were deported to the Stutthof camp during the war.

Behind the electrified barbed wire fences that surrounded him, conditions were brutal.

Many prisoners died in typhus epidemics that swept through the population, while those deemed too weak or ill to work by the guards were killed.

Stutthof is also remembered for its last days when the Soviet Red Army closed in and for the heartbreaking events that took place when thousands of prisoners were moved by camp guards under the guise of “evacuation”. .

Read more:
Ex-Nazi guard, 93, guilty of mass murder in concentration camp
Holocaust survivors face the past during royal visit to Stutthof concentration camp

Prof Rainer Schulze, a German historian and Emeritus Professor at the University of Essex, told Sky News: “They put them in little boats which they pushed into the Baltic Sea. And people died in those boats because of sun exposure, not water, not food.”

The last Nazi war crimes trial?

In the chaos that swirled at the end of World War II, many high-ranking Nazis fled abroad, while others resumed their normal lives.

In recent years, notably following a change in German law, a number of former concentration camp guards and staff between the ages of 80 and 90 have been tried for war crimes under the Nazi regime.

But Professor Schulze said Furchner’s trial would be ‘probably in all likelihood the last Nazi war crime trial’.

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