05 October 2021

Judges release ex-Nazi camp secretary who skipped accessory to murder trial

05 October 2021

A 96-year-old former secretary for the Stutthof concentration camp’s SS commander has been released from detention, five days after she was taken into custody for skipping the start of her trial in northern Germany

The German woman was picked up by police on Thursday, a few hours after leaving her home in Hamburg in a taxi on the morning her trial was due to start on more than 11,000 counts of accessory to murder.

The state court in Itzehoe ordered her detained. She appealed and appeared in court again on Tuesday.

The courtroom in Itzehoe (Markus Schreiber/AP) (AP)

A statement from the court said that judges suspended the arrest warrant and released her, ordering unspecified “safeguards”.

The next court session is scheduled for October 19, when the indictment is due to be read. That could not be done last week in the defendant’s absence.

Prosecutors say the woman was part of the apparatus that helped the Nazi camp in occupied Poland function during the Second World War more than 75 years ago.

The court has said she allegedly “aided and abetted those in charge of the camp in the systematic killing of those imprisoned there between June 1943 and April 1945 in her function as a stenographer and typist in the camp commandant’s office”.

The former Stutthof concentration camp (Czarek Sokolowski/AP) (AP)

Despite her age, the woman is being tried in juvenile court because she was under 21 at the time of the alleged crimes.

German media have identified her as Irmgard Furchner.

A court spokeswoman said after she skipped the trial opening last week that the defendant had previously “announced that she didn’t want to come” to court, but that did not provide sufficient grounds for detaining her ahead of the trial.

Given the woman’s age and condition, she had not been expected “actively to evade the trial”.

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