Ex-secretary of Nazi camp commander goes on trial in Germany

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BERLIN – The 96-year-old former secretary of the SS commander of the Stutthof concentration camp is being tried in Germany on Thursday on more than 11,000 counts of murder. Prosecutors argue that she was part of the mechanism that helped the Nazi camp function 75 years ago.

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The state court in Itzehoe, in northern Germany, said in a statement that the suspect allegedly “aided and abetted the systematic murder of those in charge of the camp in his ceremony as a stenographer and typist between June 1943 and April 1945. Commandant’s office.”

Despite her age, the German woman would be tried in juvenile court because she was under 21 at the time of the alleged crimes. The defendant has been widely identified by the German media as Irmgaard Furchner.

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The case against Furchner would rely on German legal precedent established in cases over the past decade that anyone who helped facilitate the functioning of Nazi death camps and concentration camps should be tried as an accomplice for the murders committed there. may, even without evidence of involvement in a specific crime.

A lawyer for the defendant told Der Spiegel magazine that the trial would focus on whether the 96-year-old was aware of the atrocities at the camp.

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“My client worked among SS men who were experienced in violence – however, does this mean that they shared their position of knowledge? This is not necessarily clear,” said Wolf Molkentin.

According to other media reports, the defendant was interrogated as a witness during previous Nazi trials and at the time it was said that Stutthof’s former SS commandant Paul Werner Höppe had directed him daily letters and radio messages. Nevertheless, Furchner testified that she was not aware of the killings at the camp while she was working there, the German news agency DPA reported.

Initially a collection point for Jews and non-Jewish Poles removed from Danzig – now the Polish city of Gdansk – Stuthof was used from about 1940 as a so-called “work education camp”, where forced labourers, the main They were Polish and Soviet citizens in general. were sent to serve sentences and often died.

Since mid-1944, tens of thousands of Jews from ghettos in the Baltics and Auschwitz filled the camp, with tens of thousands of Polish citizens swept away in the brutal Nazi suppression of the Warsaw Uprising.

Others in prison included political prisoners, accused criminals, people suspected of homosexual activity, and Jehovah’s Witnesses.

There more than 60,000 people were killed by being given lethal injections of gasoline or phenol directly into their hearts, or by being shot or starving. Others were forced to go outside in winter without clothing until they died of exposure, or were put to death in gas chambers.

In a separate case, a 100-year-old man is on trial next week in Brandenburg for allegedly serving as a Nazi SS guard in a concentration camp outside Berlin during World War II.

The man, whose name was not released in accordance with German secrecy laws, has been charged with 3,518 counts of accomplice to murder. The suspect is accused of working in the Sachsenhausen camp as an enlisted member of the Nazi Party’s paramilitary wing between 1942 and 1945.

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