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Nazi camp secretary, 96, caught after trying to flee ahead of trial in Germany

Irmgard Furchner is being tried for complicity in 11,000 murders at the Stutthof camp between 1943 and 1945. The woman was due to stand trial at a special court in Itzehoe on Thursday

Irmgard Furchner worked as a secretary at the Stutthof camp in Poland

A 96-year-old woman who worked as a secretary at a Nazi concentration camp when she was 21 has been found after trying to flee ahead of her trial in northern Germany.

Irmgard Furchner is being tried for complicity in 11,000 murders at the Stutthof camp between 1943 and 1945.

The woman was due to stand trial at a special court in Itzehoe yesterday, but the judge issued a warrant for her arrest after she failed to turn up.

She was then detained by police hours after leaving a nursing home in the town of Quickborn by taxi.

Ms Furchner was found in Hamburg in the afternoon and is expected to be brought back to court.



Irmgard Furchner during her time as a secretary at Stutthof camp in 1944




Meanwhile, she has been placed in provisional detention ahead of the opening of her trial.

According to German news agency DPA, the woman claimed she was not aware of the killings at the Nazi concentration camp.

She worked as a stenographer and typist for Nazi Paul-Werner Hoppe at the camp more than 75 years ago.

Her lawyer Wolf Molkentin told Der Spiegel magazine: “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.”



The woman failed to turn up for her trial in Itzehoe, northern Germany
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Image:

AFP via Getty Images)




The indictment says: “As a stenotypist and typist in the camp commandant’s office of former concentration camp Stutthof, she is alleged to have assisted those in charge of the camp in the systematic killing of those imprisoned there between June 1943 and April 1945.”

Judge Dominik Gross had earlier postponed the case until October 19.

It is understood that due to the defendant’s age, the court will sit for no more than two hours a day.



The woman claimed she was not aware of the killings at the concentration camp
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Image:

NurPhoto via Getty Images)




A doctor is also expected to examine whether the woman should remain in custody.

After the woman tried to flee, International Auschwitz Committee, a group representing Nazi survivors and relatives of victims, expressed outrage.

It said in a statement: “It shows incredible contempt for the rule of law and survivors.”







The Nazis murdered around 65,000 people in Stutthof and its sub-camps near present-day Gdansk in Poland until the Red Army liberated it in May 1945.

Victims, including Jews, Poles and prisoners of war, were poisoned in gas chambers, shot or given lethal injections. Many died of disease and starvation.

While working there, Ms Furchner, whose ­maiden name was Dirksen, met her future husband, SS man Heinz Furchner.


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