Nazi Concentration Camp Secretary Told Judge She Would Not Attend Trial | Germany
A 96-year-old woman who was arrested Thursday after failing to appear at the start of her trial in Germany for aiding and abetting the murder of thousands of concentration camp prisoners had warned the judge in advance that she wouldn’t show up at the top.
Irmgard Furchner was discovered about 38 miles from the courtroom after escaping from her nursing home in a taxi, which dropped her off at a subway station in the early hours of the morning. She wrote to the judge that to “avoid embarrassment” and that due to her “advanced age and physical disabilities”, she would not attend the trial.
Furchner, who worked as a secretary for a commander at the Nazi concentration camp in Stutthof, was arrested six hours after fleeing from Quickborn’s home, when police found her wandering on a residential street in northern Hamburg. She has now been taken into police custody after a doctor determined she was medically fit and should be detained there pending the next trial date in just under three weeks.
In a handwritten letter in early September to Judge Dominik Gross of the Itzehoe court near Hamburg, Furchner wrote: “Due to my advanced age and physical difficulties, I will not attend the appointment in front of the court. court and represented by my defense counsel.
After listing her physical ailments, she continued, “I want to spare myself this embarrassment and don’t want to make myself the laughing stock of humanity.”
According to court officials, Gross responded to Furchner warning her of the legal consequences if she did not show up for trial.
However, it emerged that Furchner’s warning was not taken seriously even though she did not show up. The authorities wanted to avoid his pre-trial detention.
Court spokesman Frederike Milhoffer said “all necessary legal steps” will be taken to ensure Furchner shows up at the next trial date.
Court hearings should be limited to a maximum of two hours.
Even if she is convicted, the outcome of recent similar cases indicates that Furchner is unlikely to ever go to jail, due to her age.
In the months leading up to the trial, Furchner had argued that her medical condition made her unfit to appear. But a doctor who evaluated her decided otherwise. It was widely reported that she had avoided receiving the coronavirus vaccine in the hopes that it would allow her to avoid trial.
In order to protect her, a plexiglass envelope had been erected around the area in which she is supposed to sit for the duration of the trial, which is to take place in an industrial logistics center. He was moved there from the ordinary court to cope with considerable media interest.
Furchner was 18 when she started working at the camp near Danzig. She is accused of complicity in murder in 11,412 cases, as well as of complicity in 18 cases of attempted murder. His trial has been called one of the last linked to the Nazi regime, due to the advanced age of the defendants still alive. She is the first woman in decades to be tried for such crimes.
Prosecutors will say that in her administrative role, she was part of the management of the camp and therefore helped facilitate the killings that took place there.
The charge against Furchner follows the trial of a former guard at the Sobibór death camp, who was convicted of aiding and abetting the murders of 28,000 people, setting a new legal precedent. The judge at the time said that regardless of a person’s role, as long as it could be proven that they had been “cogs” in the “machine of destruction”, they could be held responsible for crimes committed.
After his absence from court, Christoph Heubner of the Auschwitz International Committee, which represents concentration camp survivors and their families, said that Furchner had “shown incredible contempt for the rule of law as well as for Holocaust survivors ”.
Efraim Zuroff of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Holocaust research institute with a history of hunting down Nazi criminals and bringing them to justice, told German media: “The trial against Irmgard Furchner is an important reminder that the crimes of Nazis were not only perpetrated by men but also by women who served in concentration camps and even death squads.
Onur Özata, a lawyer who represents two co-plaintiffs, both survivors of Stutthof, at the trial, said: “The accused leads justice in a happy dance with her demeanor. She clearly does not feel bound by the law.
Stutthof, 37 km east of Danzig, was established by the Nazis in 1939 as a prison camp for civilians. It was then transformed into a concentration camp. Over 100,000 Jews and political prisoners from 28 countries were held there, of which 65,000 were murdered.