Nazi camp secretary, 96, who skipped trial is released from custody

Nazi camp secretary, 96, who skipped trial is released from custody
The 96-year-old is on trial for aiding and abetting more than 11,000 murders

A 96-year-old former secretary of a Nazi concentration camp charged with more than 11,000 counts of accessory to murder has been released from custody after skipping the start of her trial.

Irmgard Furchner was due in court in Germany on Thursday on charges relating to her work as a secretary at the Stutthof concentration camp when she was 18.

But the pensioner left the Hamburg care home she was living in by taxi on the morning of the trial and was picked up by police hours later when an arrest warrant was issued.

Ms Furchner, who is accused of aiding and abetting those in charge of the camp in the systematic killing of prisoners between June 1943 and April 1945, has now been released from custody five days after skipping the start of her trial.

As she appeared in court on Tuesday, judges said they had suspended the arrest warrant and released her, ordering unspecified “safeguards”.

Ms Furchner is due in court again on 19 October, when an indictment is to be read officially outlining the charges against her. She will appear in juvenile court as she was under 21 years old at the time of the alleged offences.

The 96-year-old has been accused by prosecutors of assisting murder in 11,387 cases and complicity in seven cases of attempted murder while she worked as the first secretary to the Stutthof concentration camp commandant, SS Major Paul Werner Hoppe.

A court spokesperson said after she skipped the trial opening last week that the defendant had previously “announced that she didn’t want to come” to court, but that did not provide sufficient grounds for detaining her ahead of the trial.

Given the woman’s age and condition, she had not been expected “actively to evade the trial”.

In the last decade or so, German prosecutors have brought charges against a number of former concentration overseers, including those that had only played minor roles.

This year, prosecutors charged a 100-year-old man with being an accessory to 3,518 murders while he was allegedly a guard at Sachsenhausen during the Second World War.