96-year-old former concentration camp worker disappears before her trial

Irmgard Furchner, the accused former secretary of the Nazi German concentration camp in Stutthof, was to be held accountable in court on Thursday for complicity in the murder of over 11,000 people, but she fled before the trial began. The court issued an order for her detention.

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According to the “Bild” daily, Ms Furchner, who lives in a nursing home in Quickborn, northern Germany, took a taxi alone early Thursday morning to an underground station where she disappeared.

“Apparently the senior woman had no intention of attending the hearing,” the daily wrote.

As announced by the presiding judge at the beginning of the trial, the court has now issued a search and arrest warrant for the 96-year-old accused.

Earlier, the German weekly “Der Spiegel” reported that before the trial, the defendant had sent a letter to the court in which she emphasised that she did not want to appear at the trial because she was afraid of being ridiculed.

The woman is accused of helping the camp management in the systematic killing of prisoners as a typist at the commandant of the German Stutthof concentration camp in the period from June 1943 to April 1945.

The proceedings are being heard by the Itzehoe Juvenile Department because the accused was under 21 at the time of the offence and therefore was a juvenile under the Juvenile Courts Act.

As Niklas Frank, the son of Hans Frank, the Nazi official responsible for the deaths of thousands of Poles, said, the participation of women in the Third Reich system has been ignored to this day.

“Thousands of German women have made racial selections and collaborated with the Gestapo [the official secret police of Nazi Germany],” he pointed out, stressing that the history of the German judiciary is full of “wasted opportunities” to bring these women to justice.

In the Nazi German Stutthof concentration camp, located 36 km from Gdańsk, northern Poland, the SS held over 100,000 prisoners during WWII. The camp operated from the beginning of war to its very end, from September 2, 1939 to May 9, 1945.

It is estimated that nearly 65,000 prisoners lost their lives in the camp. The total number of prisoners in Stutthof is estimated between 110,000 and 127,000. people. They were being hanged, tortured, gassed with Cyclone B, freezing to death and dying of hunger and epidemics.