| 6 October 2022, Thursday |

German Nazi war crimes suspect, 96, who went on the run goes on trial

On Tuesday in the northern town of Itzehoe, a 96-year-old German woman was apprehended shortly after going on the run ahead of a court hearing last month on charges of committing war crimes during WWII.

Irmgard Furchner, who was accused of contributing to the murder of 11,412 individuals as an 18-year-old typewriter at the Stutthof concentration camp between 1943 and 1945, was wheeled into the tiny courtroom.

Behind a white mask and a scarf pulled low over her eyes, her face was scarcely visible. As the judge and legal team entered the courtroom, security was tight.

Between 1939 and 1945, 65,000 people died at the concentration camp near Gdansk, Poland, either malnutrition, sickness, or the gas chamber. Prisoners of war and Jews caught up in the Nazis’ extermination program were among them.

Furchner left her home early on Sept. 30 and went on the run for many hours before being apprehended later that day, causing the trial to be postponed.

Charges could not be read until Furchner, who faces trial in an adolescent court because of her young age at the time of the alleged crimes, was present in court.

She is the latest nonagenarian to have been charged with Holocaust crimes in what is seen as a rush by prosecutors to seize the final opportunity to enact justice for the victims of some of the worst mass killings in history.

Although prosecutors convicted major perpetrators – those who issued orders or pulled triggers – in the 1960s “Frankfurt Auschwitz Trials”, the practice until the 2000s was to leave lower-level suspects alone.

  • Reuters