she claims “to have known nothing”

she claims “to have known nothing”
she claims “to have known nothing”

The trial of a 96-year-old former Nazi concentration camp secretary, who briefly fled the day his trial opened in Germany before being arrested, finally began on Tuesday in the presence of the accused.

Irmgard Furchner must answer in court in Itzehoe (north) for complicity and attempted murder in more than 11,000 cases in the Stutthof concentration camp, in present-day Poland, between 1943 and 1945.

The nonagenarian was present during this new hearing: she entered the room pushed in a wheelchair, dressed in a white jacket and a cane in her hand, noted an AFP journalist.

To hide from the numerous photographers and videographers, her head was covered with a scarf and wore large sunglasses.

Her trial began on September 30 in an incredible way: the defendant, who lives in a retirement home near Hamburg, had fled instead of going to court.

She appears free but surveillance measures have been taken to ensure her presence at the hearings.

Tuesday morning, Irmgard Furchner, the only woman involved in Nazism to be tried for decades in Germany, declined her identity and then remained silent, listening to the indictment.

The prosecution accuses him of having “aided and abetted in the treacherous and cruel murder“thousands of prisoners between June 1943 and April 1945 in this camp where she worked as a typist and secretary to the camp commander, Paul Werner Hoppe.

She pretends “to have known nothing

In this camp near the city of Gdansk (Danzig at the time) where 65,000 people died, “Jewish detainees, Polish partisans and Soviet prisoners of war“were systematically murdered, recalled the prosecution.

By virtue of her duties, she “ensured the proper functioning of the camp” and “was aware of all the events and facts that occurred in the Stutthof camp“, in particular the killings by bullets or gassing, explained the prosecutor Maxi Wantzen.

In a recent interview given in 2019 to the newspaper NDR, the former secretary said “to have known nothing“massacres committed in this camp.

Before the opening of her trial, the accused had announced in a letter to the President of the Court that she did not want to appear before her judges.

On the first day of the hearing, she got into a taxi and disappeared a few hours before being found. Placed in pre-trial detention, she was released a week later.

Late justice

His behavior had caused consternation. “It shows contempt for survivors and the rule of law“, lamented to AFP Christoph Heubner, vice-president of the Auschwitz Committee.

Healthy enough to escape, healthy enough to go to jail!“, had for his part launched on Twitter Efraim Zuroff, the president of the Simon Wiesenthal Center which tracks the Nazis still alive.

Seventy-six years after the end of World War II, German justice continues to search for former Nazi criminals still alive, illustrating the increased severity, although deemed very late by the victims, of its justice.

Germany also widened its investigations to the executants, sometimes subordinate, of the Nazi machinery.

Another defendant, Josef Schütz, aged 100, began to appear on October 7 in the Brandenburg-an-Havel court (northeast), where he claims his innocence.

Oldest accused of Nazi crimes, this former non-commissioned officer of the SS division “Skull” (“Skull“) is prosecuted for”complicity in murders“of 3,518 prisoners when he was operating in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, between 1942 and 1945.

The individuals suspected of Nazi crimes still alive today were very young at the time of the events and instead held lower ranks.“, Guillaume Mouralis, research director at the CNRS and member of the Marc Bloch Center in Berlin, told AFP.

The paradox is that ‘office criminals’ in the middle and upper echelons of the hierarchy ended up being little worried“, he adds.

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