A former secretary of a Nazi concentration camp, now 96, fled before her trial began in Itzehoe, Germany. She was found a few hours later.

According to the court spokesman, Irmgard Furchner left his home for the aged in the morning before taking flight by taxi.

In the early afternoon, the old woman was found. “I can say that the accused has been found (…) A doctor will establish her capacity to be placed in detention and the Court will determine if the arrest warrant can be executed or if she is spared”, reacted the court spokesperson.

“Complicity in murder in more than 10,000 cases”

Irmgard Furchner was to appear for “complicity in murder in more than 10,000 cases”. The prosecution accuses her of having participated in the murder of detainees in the Stutthof concentration camp, in present-day Poland and the first of its kind outside German territory, where she worked as a typist.

It is also established that Irmgard Furchner was the secretary to the camp commander, Paul Werner Hoppe, between June 1943 and April 1945.

Machine-typed work orders

In this camp near the city of Gdansk, died some 65,000 people, “Jewish detainees, Polish partisans and Soviet prisoners of war,” said the prosecution.

According to lawyer Christoph Rückel, who has represented Holocaust survivors for years, “Irmgard Furchner kept all the correspondence of the camp commander”. She would thus have “typed the execution and deportation orders and affixed her initials”.

At the end of a long procedure, justice had estimated in February that the nonagenarian was fit to appear despite her great age. The hearings are scheduled to run until June 2022.

Few women tried for these types of facts

Eight cases involving former employees of the Buchenwald and Ravensbrück camps in particular, are currently being examined by various German prosecutors.

Other proceedings had to be abandoned due to the death of the suspects or their physical inability to be brought to trial.

Germany has so far tried very few women involved in the Nazi machinery. Some 4,000 of them served as guards in concentration camps, according to historians.

From guard to accountant

The jurisprudence of the conviction in 2011 of John Demjanjuk, a guard of the Sobibor camp, to five years in prison, now allows the prosecution of any auxiliary of a concentration camp, from the guard to the accountant.

The trial of Irmgard Furchner is to be followed next week by that of a former guard, now a hundred years old, of the Nazi camp in Sachsenhausen.


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