97-year-old Irmgard Furchner is the first woman to be tried in Germany for Nazi-era crimes. Until Tuesday, she had kept her silence on the Stutthof death camp for 14 months. She maintains she was unaware of the genocide being carried out by the Nazis.
I’m sorry about everything that happened,’ Furchner said at the court in the northern town of Itzehoe, her lawyer said, breaking her 14-month long silence.
‘I regret that I was in Stutthof at the time,’ she said, referring to the location of the concentration camp in occupied Poland where she worked.
Prosecutors accuse Furchner of complicity in the ‘cruel and malicious murder’ of more than 10,000 people at the Stutthof camp and have asked the judges to hand down a two-year suspended sentence – meaning she could avoid jail time.
Meanwhile, Furchner’s lawyers called for her acquittal last week, saying the evidence presented in the course of the trial ‘had not shown beyond doubt’ that she knew of the killings, according to a court statement.
The verdict will be announced on December 20, the court said.
It worths reporting that Furchner had tried to abscond as the trial was set to begin in September 2021, fleeing the retirement home where she lives and heading to a metro station.
She managed to evade police for several hours before being apprehended in the nearby city of Hamburg and held in custody for five days.
The defendant was a teenager when her alleged crimes were committed and has therefore been tried in a juvenile court.
She has claimed that despite working in the camp’s command block, she knew nothing of its murderous regime.
But it has been revealed during her trial that her husband – who was a Nazi SS soldier during World War II – testified in 1954 that he was aware that people had been gassed at the concentration camp.
During the trial, several Stutthof survivors offered accounts of their experiences at the camp. One survivor – Risa Silbert, 93 – told the trial on August 30 that cannibalism was commonplace among starving prisoners.