Speed Reads

Never forget

97-year-old Nazi secretary appeals German murder convictions

Irmgard Furchner, a 97-year-old former secretary at Stutthof Nazi concentration camp, has appealed her two-year suspended sentence, just days after she was convicted of being an accessory to the murder of more than 10,000 camp inmates by a German state court, CBS News reported on Wednesday. 

Furchner, who served as a stenographer in the camp Commandant Paul Werner Hoppe's office, had been accused of aiding and abetting the deaths of thousands of people between June 1943 and April 1945, and was found guilty on December 20, more than a year after her trial first began. She had initially fled her nursing home before a 2021 court date, and was apprehended only after a judge issued a warrant for her arrest.

Since she was in her late teens during her time as a civilian typist at the camp, Furchner was tried and convicted in German juvenile court, with her attorneys arguing for a full acquittal claiming it could not conclusively be proven that she was aware of what was happening to camp prisoners. Presiding Judge Dominik Gross, however, countered during her sentencing that it was "simply beyond all imagination" that she could not have known what was taking place. Camp Commandant Hoppe was convicted in 1955 for his role at Stutthof, with one witness at his trial testifying he had personally intervened to expedite the gassing murders of pregnant Jewish prisoners, according to a contemporaneous report from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Furchner also testified during Hoppe's trial, telling the court that although Hoppe had dictated messages to her during her time in his office, she nevertheless remained unaware of the tens of thousands of deaths that took place there under his authority. According to BBC News, she later married SS squad leader Heinz Furchstam, to whom she was likely introduced while working at the camp. 

In her sole statement during her trial, Furchner addressed the court before her sentence was handed down, saying simply "I am sorry for everything that happened. I regret that I was in Stutthof at the time. That's all I can say."

The German State Court has not yet indicated if and when it will address Furchner's appeal. However, given her advanced age, and two-year suspended sentence, it was unlikely she would have ever been made to report to prison in the first place.