A 97-year old woman who worked for the SS commander of Nazi Germany’s Stutthof concentration camp as a secretary was convicted on Tuesday of complicity in the murders of over 10,505 people.
Irmgard Furchner was a teenager when she worked as a typist at Stutthof between 1943 and 1945.
The first woman to be on trial for Nazi war crimes in several decades, Furchner was found guilty and given a two-year suspended sentence, BBC News reported.
Her lawyer’s had alleged she was a civilian working at the camp and not aware of what was going on and had argued for their client to be acquitted.
But the judge disagreed that she did not have knowledge of the atrocities going on at the death camp.
Irmgard Furchner has been on trial for over a year at the Itzehoe state court in northern Germany. In September 2021, she tried to flee Germany before her trial started. She was being tried on charges of complicity in the murder of more than 10,000 people at Stutthof camp, but failed to turn up after leaving her retirement home near Hamburg.
Police detained her several hours later and she was remanded in custody before the resumption of her trial.
In her closing statement on Tuesday, Furchner said she was sorry for what had happened and regretted that she had been there at the time, according to a court spokesman.
Her lawyers requested her acquittal, arguing that the evidence hadn't shown beyond doubt that Furchner knew about the systematic killings at the camp, meaning there was no proof of intent as required for criminal liability.
Prosecutors accused Furchner of being part of the apparatus that helped the Nazis’ Stutthof camp function during World War II.
With Furchner being a teenager at the time of her employment at the death camp, she was tried in a special juvenile courtroom.
Around 65,000 prisoners died at the Stutthof, including Jews, Poles and Soviet soldiers.
Furchner’s case is the latest that Germany has opened against suspected Nazi war criminals in recent years.
Germany’s crackdown on Nazi war criminals began following the 2011 Munich trial of John Demjanjuk, a Nazi war criminal charged of assisting in the murder of 28,060 people at the Sobibor death camp and sentenced to five years. He died in 2012.
In 2020, 93-year-old Stutthof camp guard Bruno Dey was convicted of 5,232 counts of accessory to murder in Hamburg state court, equal to the number of people believed to have been killed at Stutthof during his service there in 1944 and 1945.
In 2021, German prosecutors charged a 100-year-old man who allegedly served as a Nazi concentration camp guard at Sachsenhausen where more than 100,000 people were killed.
Some of those convicted of Nazi-era war crimes never served their sentences as they passed away before being jailed.