Nazi Holocaust Camp Secretary Gets Suspended Sentence for Her Part in 10,000 Murders
© AP Photo / Christian Charisius / Defendant Irmgard Furchner sits in the courtroom at the beginning of the trial day in Itzehoe, Germany, on charges of accessory to mass murder at the Stutthof Nazi concentration campDefendant Irmgard Furchner sits in the courtroom at the beginning of the trial day in Itzehoe, Germany, on charges of accessory to mass murder at the Stutthof Nazi concentration camp
© AP Photo / Christian Charisius / Defendant Irmgard Furchner sits in the courtroom at the beginning of the trial day in Itzehoe, Germany, on charges of accessory to mass murder at the Stutthof Nazi concentration camp
"Secretary of Evil" Irmgard Furchner was just 18 when she went to work for SS commandant at the Stutthof concentration camp in Poland, where up to 65,000 people were worked and starved to death or executed.
A German court has given a former SS secretary at a Nazi concentration camp a two-year suspended sentence as an accessory to over 10,000 murders.
Irmgard Furchner, 97, was convicted and sentenced by the Itzehoe state court in Schleswig-Holstein state on Tuesday.
Judge Dominik Gross said she was guilty of assisting in the murders of 10,505 at the Stutthof concentration camp, located in modern-day Poland, along with the attempted murders of five others.
Dubbed the "secretary of evil", Furchner worked for the camp's SS commandant Paul-Werner Hoppe from the age of 18. Her lenient sentence was passed according to juvenile law due to her age at the time she committed her crimes.
Furchner "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," the prosecution charged.
She refused to answer questions during the trial, but apologised in her closing statement and said she regretted her time at the camp.
Furchner's defense argued that she should be acquitted, as the prosecution had failed to prove she knew of the atrocities being committed. But Stutthof survivor Manfred Goldberg dismissed that claim.
"It was impossible not to know what happened," Goldberg said. "There were bodies being carted openly through the camp."
Historians called as expert witnesses said that sick, starving and terrified prisoners, many of them stripped naked, were led past the the office where Furchner worked every day.
20 December 2022, 10:38 GMT
Stutthof was originally built following the German invasion in 1939 to imprison Polish leaders and intellectuals. Around 110,000 captives were held at the camp before its liberation by Soviet troops in 1945. Of those, 24,500 were transferred elsewhere and between 63,000 and 65,000 were killed or died of mistreatment including starvation, slave labor and denial of medical care.
Some 28,000 of the victims were Jews, but prisoners came from 28 European countries and included communists, Soviet prisoners of war, Polish and Latvian resistance guerrillas and psychiatric patients.
Trials of officers at the camp were held in Poland in 1946 and 1947. Of the 101 accused, 99 were convicted and 21 were sentenced to death, including commandant Johann Pauls.
Former Stutthof guard Johann Rehbogen was put on trial in November 2018 at the age of 94, also under juvenile law, but the hearings were abandoned in February 2019 after he was declared medically unfit to strand trial.
Fellow guard Bruno Dey, then 92, was tried in October 2019 for taking part in the murders of 5,230 victims. He was given the same two-year suspended sentence as Furchner in July 2020 under juvenile law, as he was 17 at the time of the crimes.