Who is Irmgard Furchner? Typist complicit in 10,500 murders by the Nazis

A court ruled that Irmgard Furchner was complicit in the murder of 10,500 people (Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

A court ruled that Irmgard Furchner was complicit in the murder of 10,500 people (Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

Irmgard Furchner is the first woman to be tried for Nazi crimes in decades.

As a teenager, Furchner worked as the secretary of the commandant of a Nazi concentration camp. A judge ruled that although he was a civilian worker, he was aware of what was happening and was therefore complicit in 10,500 murders.

He was sentenced to a two-year suspended sentence on 20 December.

But what else do we know about him?

Who is Irmgard Furchner?

Furchner was young when he was assigned as a typist to Stutthof concentration camp, where tens of thousands, if not more than 100,000, were deported.

He worked there from 1943 to 1945, a busy time when Nazi Germany and its allies set up more than 44,000 camps and other places of incarceration throughout Germany, including Stutthof.

Furchner was found guilty of assisting those in charge of the camp in the systematic killing of thousands of prisoners.

Most deaths in the camp occurred from gas chambers, but an epidemic of typhus and deaths from lethal injections by camp doctors were added to the roundup.

The case of Irmgard Furchner

Because Furchner was only 18 years old at the time of his involvement, his trial was held in a juvenile court in Itzehoe.

The applicant had previously insisted that he had attended the court reluctantly to attend the trial himself. He wrote in a letter that he would boycott his case because it was “humiliating” for him. This was rejected as criminal cases required the presence of the accused.

Last year, just hours before his trial began, Furchner tried to escape by leaving the nursing home and trying to escape from the Norderstedt Mitte subway, but was later caught and arrested.

The attitudes of those working in concentration camps towards complicity in the murders have changed over the past few decades. This was mostly since the case of John Demjanjuk, the Nazi death camp guard accused of involvement in the murder, set a precedent. The court ruled that working in a camp alone was sufficient evidence for complicity. The accusation has led to further prosecutions in Germany since 2011, including that of Furchner.

After 40 days on trial, Furchner finally cracked up and said of his involvement: “I’m sorry I was in Stutthof at the time – that’s all I can say.”

Furchner’s defense attorneys tried to influence the decision, arguing that Furchner had no idea what was going on. But that was denied by a camp survivor whose father was shot in Stutthoff, telling reporters outside of the trial that he was “indirectly guilty, even if he sat in the office and left his stamp on my father’s death certificate.”

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