German court sentences former Nazi camp secretary – DW – 12/20/2022

A northern German court sentenced Irmgard F., a former secretary of the Nazi Stutthof concentration camp, on Tuesday for complicity in the murder of more than 10,000 people. She received a two-year suspended sentence as requested by prosecutors.

From June 1943 to April 1945, she worked as a stenographer and typist at the Stutthof death camp, near what was then Nazi-occupied Danzig and is now Gdansk.

An estimated 65,000 people died at Stutthof, including Jewish prisoners, Polish partisans, and Russian Soviet POWs.

Irmgard F. was “aware” of the atrocities in Stutthof

The prosecution had said that the defendant’s administrative work “guaranteed the smooth running of the camp” and gave her “knowledge of all happenings and events at Stutthof”.

Defense attorneys had asked that their client be found not guilty, arguing that she was unaware of the extent of the murder and the crimes committed at the camp.

The judges in the case had visited the former Stutthof field to clarify what areas he could see from his office at the time. They concluded that it was “simply beyond imagination” that she had not noticed the mass murders.

“During her stay at Stutthof, the defendant was not unaware of what was going on there,” said Dominik Groß, the presiding judge.

Irmgard F. was silent for much of the trial, but said towards the end: “I’m sorry for everything that happened. I’m sorry I was in Stutthof at the time. I can’t say anything more.”

Last year, she was caught after she apparently tried to escape the trial by running away from the nursing home where she lived.

Shoah survivor: ‘The biggest fish was released’

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youth court

The 97-year-old woman was tried in a juvenile court in Itzehoe, a small town north of Hamburg, as she was only 18-19 years old at the time of the crime.

Prosecutors had requested a suspended juvenile sentence of two years, the longest possible without jail time.

Efraim Zuroff, the director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Israel that has helped bring many Nazi war criminals to trial, told DW that while the verdict was legally the strongest possible, in another sense it was “absurd.”

“It is the best sentence we could have gotten because she is being tried in juvenile court. That is part of the problem here,” she said.

“In a sense, the suspended sentence is absolutely absurd because the suspended sentence means that the sentence will only be implemented if the person repeats the crime. Obviously, she is not willing to repeat the crime.”

‘Anyone involved in these crimes must pay for them’

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Judgment of ‘historical significance’

“This trial is of outstanding historical importance,” prosecutor Maxi Wantzen said at a recent hearing, adding that it was “potentially, due to the passage of time, the last of its kind.”

But Zuroff, who is widely known as the “Nazi hunter,” disagreed.

“More than 40 years ago, a book was already written on […] the first [Holocaust-related] Trial in Unified Germany. And the title was ‘The Last Nazi’. I can tell you that in the meantime more than 100 Nazi war criminals have been convicted,” he said.

“So I would not rush or rush to call this the last trial. I know for a fact that we at the Wiesenthal Center are busy trying to find survivors from the Ravensbrück camps in northern Germany who can testify against a person who served as a guard,” he added.

German courts have handed down verdicts in several Holocaust-related cases since the 2011 conviction of a former Nazi guard.

However, several other cases have been dropped due to the death of the defendants or their physical inability to appear for trial.

fb/sms (AFP, AP, dpa)

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