Nazi ‘secretary of evil’, 96, on trial over 11k murders during Holocaust

A 96-year-old woman is on trial in Germany and is alleged to have been involved in the Holocaust.

Irmgard Furchner is accused of 11,000 counts of accessory to murder.

At the age of 18, she worked as a secretary to the commandant of the Stutthof concentration camp, where over 60,000 people are known to have been killed.

Not every person involved in the Holocaust was caught. Initially, the authorities focussed on catching the more well-known names. It means that only people suspected of involvement are often tried well into their 90s, much like Furchner.

As CBS News reported: "Of the 110 suspects identified for Nazi crimes in the United States since 1973, only five were later prosecuted in Germany."

Who is Irmgard Furchner?

Born in May 1925, Furchner was originally supposed to stand trial in September, but her trial was postponed when she fled from her care home.

Her attorney, Wolf Molkentin said: "My client worked in the midst of SS men who were experienced in violence – however, does that mean she shared their state of knowledge? That is not necessarily obvious."

She worked as a secretary for the SS commander of the camp, Paul Werner Hoppe.

Hoppe was convicted for his role at the camp and sentenced to nine years in prison by a West German court in 1957. He died in 1974.

The 96-year-old is being tried in a juvenile court due to her age when the alleged crimes took place.

What was Stutthof?

Stutthof was a camp located in northern Poland and the first inmates were imprisoned in 1939.

Its inmates, who were Jews, Poles and political prisoners, were subjected to the typically horrendous conditions that people the Nazis considered enemies were forced to endure during the Holocaust.

Out of the 110,000 estimated prisoners, it is believed that between 63,000-65,000 people were killed. 28,000 were Jews.

The Holocaust Research Project described a day in the life of an inmate: "Returning to the main camp of Stutthof, those prisoners who managed to endure the starvation, excessive work, beatings, and disease might still be killed either by a shot in the back of the head or be gassed in the gas chamber."

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A witness said: "They arrived in a horrifying physical state, usually from other camps mainly Auschwitz to die here. They plodded on and on fatigued, with black faces, hair growing from their skin in bristle.

"They plodded on and on staring with their huge black eyes with what seemed to be an inhuman expression. They wore neither sweaters nor jackets, only torn summer dresses, through the tears in which their grey bodies could be seen. They were without vests, gaunt with their pointed shoulders, sunken chests – they were more like some weird ugly birds."

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