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German prosecutors seek suspended sentence for ex-Nazi camp secretary, 97, at trial

Prosecutor calls for Irmgard Furchner to get 2-year suspended term as accessory to murder, arguing she must have been aware of mass killings at Stutthof concentration camp

Defendant Irmgard Furchner sits in the courtroom at the beginning of her trial in Itzehoe, Germany, November 9, 2021. (Christian Charisius/Pool via AP)
Defendant Irmgard Furchner sits in the courtroom at the beginning of her trial in Itzehoe, Germany, November 9, 2021. (Christian Charisius/Pool via AP)

BERLIN, Germany — German prosecutors called Tuesday for a 97-year-old woman who was the secretary to the SS commander of the Stutthof concentration camp to be convicted as an accessory to murder and to be given a two-year suspended sentence.

Irmgard Furchner has been on trial for over a year at the Itzehoe state court in northern Germany. Prosecutor Maxi Wantzen said in closing arguments that “these proceedings are of outstanding historical significance,” the German news agency dpa reported.

Prosecutors accuse Furchner of being part of the apparatus that helped the Nazis’ Stutthof camp function during World War II.

She is alleged to have “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.”

Wantzen said Tuesday that the defendant would have been able to see large parts of the camp from her office, including an area where new prisoners arrived. She also must have been able to see and smell smoke from the burning of bodies at the crematorium, the prosecutor added.

Even if the defendant didn’t enter the fenced-in camp herself, “that was not necessary from my point of view to have knowledge of the mass murders,” Wantzen said.

Irmgard Furchner in her youth (Courtesy)

Furchner hasn’t responded to the charges against her during the trial. There are no formal pleas in the German judicial system.

Tens of thousands of people died at Stutthof and its satellite camps, or on so-called death marches at the end of the war.

Furchner is being tried in juvenile court because she was under 21 at the time of the alleged crimes. Closing arguments are to continue on November 29.

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