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Ex-Nazi death camp secretary, 96, freed from custody after fleeing before trial

A judicial officer in the courtroom prior to the trial of Irmgard Furchner, a 96-year-old former secretary for the SS commander of the Stutthof concentration camp, in Itzehoe, Germany, September 30, 2021. (Markus Schreiber/AP)
A judicial officer in the courtroom prior to the trial of Irmgard Furchner, a 96-year-old former secretary for the SS commander of the Stutthof concentration camp, in Itzehoe, Germany, September 30, 2021. (Markus Schreiber/AP)

BERLIN — A 96-year-old former secretary at a Nazi death camp who tried to flee before her trial has been released from custody in Germany ahead of the next hearing, a court spokeswoman says.

Irmgard Furchner had been due in court last Thursday for the opening of her trial on charges of complicity in the murder of more than 10,000 people at Stutthof camp in occupied Poland.

But she failed to turn up after leaving her retirement home near Hamburg in a taxi, which took her to a subway station, from where she went missing.

Police detained her several hours later and she was remanded in custody before the resumption of her trial on October 19.

The court in the northern town of Itzehoe decides today that she can be freed under unspecified conditions.

“The court has suspended the arrest warrant and released the accused from custody under the condition of precautionary measures,” says court spokeswoman Frederike Milhoffer.

The spokeswoman declines to give details on the conditions but says “it is however assured that she will appear at the next appointment.”

Prosecutors accuse Furchner of having assisted in the systematic murder of detainees at Stutthof, where she worked in the office of camp commander Paul Werner Hoppe between June 1943 and April 1945.

Roughly 65,000 people died at the camp near Gdansk, among them “Jewish prisoners, Polish partisans and Soviet Russian prisoners of war,” according to the indictment.

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