Former Nazi Secretary Convicted by German Court

In what could be the final trial of its kind, a 97-year-old female former secretary at a Nazi concentration camp was found guilty in a German court on Tuesday of being an accessory in the murder of over 10k people during the Holocaust.

Former Nazi Secretary Convicted by German Court
Image credit: AFP [via BBC News]

Facts

  • In what could be the final trial of its kind, a 97-year-old female former secretary at a Nazi concentration camp was found guilty in a German court on Tuesday of being an accessory in the murder of over 10k people during the Holocaust.
  • Irmgard Furchner, nicknamed "the secretary of evil" by German media, was sentenced to two years in prison in a landmark trial for her role in helping run the Stutthof concentration camp.
  • As Furchner was 18 and 19 at the time, the 97-year-old’s trial took place before a juvenile court, and her sentence will see her placed on juvenile probation, the court confirmed.
  • The prosecutors were not able to link her to any specific murders, but they did prove that she willingly supported the running of the camp by fulfilling her duties as secretary.
  • Furnchner's defense lawyers had asked for their client to be acquitted and argued the prosecution’s evidence did not prove beyond doubt that she had known about the killings. In the closing statement, Furchner said she was sorry and regretted being at Stuffhof.
  • In postwar Germany, Furchner had been the prosecutor's witness testifying at trials of Nazi war criminals, including one that led to the conviction of her boss, camp commander Paul-Werner Hoppe.

Sources: BBC News, NBC, CNN, New York Times, and Voa.

Narratives

  • Narrative A, as provided by Daily Mail. While those responsible for the Holocaust should rightfully be held to account, it's unclear just how much justice victims and families will truly get by convicting perpetrators who either don't have to serve their sentences because of their advanced age or receive lenient ones, such as in this case. It's time to consider alternative but equally promising ways of dealing with unresolved Holocaust crimes.
  • Narrative B, as provided by Wiesenthal. Trials like this are vital to keeping the tragedy of the Holocaust in our collective memories, and they send an important signal, reaffirming the political and moral responsibility of individuals in authoritarian regimes. This is especially true in this case, as the role played by female Nazi war criminals is often overlooked.