Former Nazi camp secretary, 97, appeals against conviction
BERLIN - A 97-year-old former Nazi camp secretary has filed an appeal against her conviction of complicity in the murder of more than 10,000 people, a German court said on Wednesday.
Ms Irmgard Furchner was the first woman in decades to be tried in Germany for Nazi-era crimes.
She was last week handed a two-year suspended sentence for her role in what prosecutors called the “cruel and malicious murder” of prisoners at the Stutthof camp in occupied Poland.
But her defence, as well as a co-plaintiff, have since “filed an appeal to the Federal Supreme Court against the judgment of the regional court of Itzehoe”, said a spokeswoman for the court in a statement.
The legal challenge could only question if the sentence had been based on a violation of the law, said the spokeswoman.
The Supreme Court would examine if “proceedings have been conducted properly and substantive law has been applied correctly”, she said, adding that evidence would not be taken again.
Pending the appeal, the verdict was not legally binding, she added.
Ms Furchner had expressed regret as the trial drew to a close, telling the court she was “sorry about everything that happened”.
Between June 1943 and April 1945, Ms Furchner took the dictation and handled the correspondence of camp commander Paul Werner Hoppe while her husband was a fellow SS officer at the camp.
An estimated 65,000 people died at the camp near today’s Gdansk, including “Jewish prisoners, Polish partisans and Soviet Russian prisoners of war”, prosecutors said.
Delivering the verdict, presiding judge Dominik Gross said that “nothing that happened at Stutthof was kept from her” and that the defendant was aware of the “extremely bad conditions for the prisoners”.
Although the camp’s abysmal conditions and hard labour claimed the most lives, the Nazis also operated gas chambers and execution-by-shooting facilities to exterminate hundreds of people deemed unfit for labour.
Ms Furchner had tried to abscond as the proceedings were set to begin in September 2021, fleeing the retirement home where she lives.
She managed to evade police for several hours before being apprehended in the nearby city of Hamburg.
The defendant was a teenager when she committed her crimes and was therefore tried in a juvenile court.
Seventy-seven years on, time is running out to bring to justice criminals linked to the Holocaust.
In recent years, several cases have been abandoned as the accused died or were physically unable to stand trial.
The 2011 conviction of former guard John Demjanjuk, on the basis that he served as part of Hitler’s killing machine, set a legal precedent and paved the way for several trials.
Since then, courts have handed down several guilty verdicts on those grounds rather than for murders or atrocities directly linked to the individual accused. AFP