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Who is Irmgard Furchner? The typist complicit in 10,500 murders by the Nazis


rmgard Furchner is the first woman to be tried for Nazi crimes in decades.

Furchner worked as a secretary for the commander of a Nazi concentration camp as a teenager. A judge ruled that despite being a civilian worker she was aware of what was occurring and therefore was complict in 10,500 murders.

On December 20, she was sentenced to a two-year suspended jail term.

But what else do we know about her?

Who is Irmgard Furchner?

Furchner was a teenager when she was appointed as a typist at Stutthof concentration camp to which more than tens of thousands perhaps even up to 100,000 people were deported.

She worked there between 1943 and 1945, a peak time when Nazi Germany and its allies established more than 44,000 camps and other incarceration sites across Germany including at Stutthof.

Furchner was convicted of assisting those in charge of the camp with the systematic killing of thousands of inmates.

Most of the deaths that occurred at the camp were from the gas chambers but a typhus epidemic and death from lethal injections by camp doctors added to the total.

Irmgard Furchner’s trial

As Furchner was only 18 at the time of her involvement her trial was held in a juvenile court in Itzehoe.

She had previously insisted that she was unwillingly to attend court in person. writing in a letter that she would boycott her trial as it was “degrading” for her. This was denied as criminal trials require the presence of the accused.

Last year, a few hours before the start of her trial, Furchner had tried to escape, leaving her retirement home and attempting to flee from Norderstedt Mitte subway but was later captured and arrested.

Attitudes towards complicity in the murders by those who worked at concentration camps has changed in the past few decades. This was mostly since the case of Nazi death camp guard John Demjanjuk set the precedent, who was charged for his involvement in murder. The court found that working in a camp was in itself sufficient evidence of complicity. The charge prompted further prosecutions in Germany since 2011 including that of Furchner’s.

After 40 days on trial, Furchner eventually cracked and spoke of her involvement saying: “I regret that I was in Stutthof at the time – that’s all I can say.”

Furchner’s defence lawyers tried to sway the ruling by arguing she was unaware of what was going on. But this was rebuffed by one camp survivor whose father was shot at Stutthoff, who said to reporters outside the trial that “she’s indirectly guilty, even if she just sat in the office and put her stamp on my father’s death certificate”.

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