A 97-year-old former secretary to an SS commander at a concentration camp could be the last person ever to be tried for Nazi war crimes.
The so-called “secretary of evil” was just 18 years old when she went to work for the commander of the Stutthof camp, where more than 60,000 people perished.
Irmgard Furchner has been on trial for over a year, and a verdict is expected at some point today.
She is accused of being an accessory to 11,412 murders during her time working at the camp, which was located near what is now Gdansk in modern day Poland.
Prosecutors say she “aided and abetted those in charge of the camp in the systematic killing of those imprisoned there between June 1943 and April 1945 in her function as a stenographer and typist in the camp commandant’s office”.
Furchner, who has largely refused to answer questions during the trial, said in her closing statement that she was sorry for what had happened and regretted that she had been there at the time.
The last Nazi war crimes trial?
Professor Rainer Schulze, a German historian and emeritus professor at the University of Essex, said “this will probably in all likelihood be the last Nazi war crime trial”.
In the chaos that swirled as the Second World War came to an end, many high-ranking Nazis fled abroad, while others returned to their normal lives.
In recent years, particularly following a change in German law, there have been a number of former concentration camp guards and staff members in their 80s and 90s put on trial accused of war crimes under the Nazi regime.
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Stutthof concentration camp
Perhaps as many as 100,000 people were deported to the Stutthof camp during the war.
Behind the electrified barbed-wire fences surrounding it, conditions were brutal.
Many prisoners died in typhus epidemics that swept through the population, while those deemed too weak or sick to work by the guards were killed.
Stutthof is also remembered for its final days as the Soviet Red Army closed in, and the harrowing events that took place as thousands of prisoners were moved by camp guards under the pretence of an “evacuation”.
“They put them into little boats which they shoved into the Baltic Sea,” said Professor Schulze.
“And people died in those boats because of the exposure to the sun, no water, no food,” he told Sky News.
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