Defendants on the run: police arrest concentration camp secretary after escaping

Itzehoe (Schleswig-Holstein) – She fled in the early morning shortly before the start of the trial, and was arrested on Thursday afternoon! The former concentration camp secretary Irmgard Furchner was caught just a few hours after her escape!

The 96-year-old, who as a former secretary of the Stutthof concentration camp (near Danzig) is accused of complicity in murder in more than 11,000 cases, was arrested by the police on Thursday afternoon.

At 1:50 p.m., the elderly woman was picked up by a police patrol while she was walking along Langenhorner-Chaussee. Now she is sitting in the police station and is being questioned.

This is where Irmgard Furchner should have been sitting in the process todayPhoto: Markus Schreiber / dpa

The accused ex-secretary is charged with helping those in charge of the camp with the systematic killing of those imprisoned there in her function as stenographer and typist in the camp commandant’s office of the former Stutthof concentration camp between June 1943 and April 1945.

However, the former typist did not appear at the start of the process, but fled immediately before the start of the negotiations – until now!

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Furchner had left the nursing home in Quickborn (north of Hamburg) in a taxi very early in the morning in the direction of the Norderstedt underground station and has been on the run ever since.

A good quarter of an hour after the scheduled start of the trial, the court declared that the defendant was, as things stand, fugitive. The criminal chamber then issued an arrest warrant against the 96-year-old, said the presiding judge at the regional court, Dominik Groß. And further: it remains to be seen whether they can be found.

The result: the planned main hearing could only begin after the warrant has been issued and your ability to stand trial has been checked.

The former concentration camp secretary Irmgard Furchner around 1944

The former concentration camp secretary Irmgard Furchner around 1944Photo: private

Furchner announced their escape in early September

Furchner announced her escape from the trial in early September. In a clearly structured, handwritten letter on September 8th, she wrote to the court that she wanted to stay away from the trial.

“Due to my age and physical limitations, I will not attend the court dates and ask the defense lawyer to represent me,” she wrote to the Itzehoe regional court in a letter, as reported by the “Welt”, and referred to numerous illnesses. “I would like to spare myself these embarrassments and not make myself the mockery of humanity.” None of those involved suspected that she would now seriously flee the process.

The district court has now issued an arrest warrant, said the presiding judge Dominik Groß on Thursday morning. It remains to be seen whether one can get hold of them. The planned main hearing could then only begin after the arrest warrant has been issued and your ability to stand trial has been checked.

Meanwhile, the International Auschwitz Committee has expressed outrage over the escape of the defendants in the Nazi trial from Itzehoe near Hamburg. “This shows an incredible contempt for the rule of law and also for the survivors,” said Vice-Executive President Christoph Heubner on Thursday. The committee represents concentration camp survivors and their relatives.

Lawyer Onur Özata, who represents two co-plaintiffs and Stutthof survivors in the proceedings, commented on BILD: “The accused is fooling the judiciary with her behavior. Apparently she does not feel bound by the local law. The law enforcement authorities must now do everything possible to get hold of the concentration camp secretary. Anything else would be unbearable for the survivors. “

Efraim Zuroff (73) from “Wiesenthal Center” underlined the importance of the process. The historian told BILD: “The trial of Irmgard Furchner is an important reminder that the crimes of the Nazis were not only committed by men, but also by women who served in concentration camps and even in the Einsatzgruppen.”

An estimated 65,000 prisoners, including many Jews, died in the concentration camp during World War II

An estimated 65,000 prisoners, including many Jews, died in the concentration camp during World War IIPhoto: dpa

Furchner testified twice as a witness, in 1954 and 1962, about her role in Stutthof. In 1954 she testified that all correspondence with the SS Economic Administration Main Office ran over her desk.

Commander Hoppe had dictated letters to her every day and ordered radio messages. She said at the time that she knew nothing about the killing machinery that killed tens of thousands of people in the immediate vicinity while she was on duty.

▶ The proceedings are being negotiated in front of the youth chamber because the Furchner was 18 or 19 years old at the time of the offense and was therefore an adolescent within the meaning of the Youth Courts Act.


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