Former Nazi death camp secretary, Irmgard Furchner ,96,

A former Nazi concentration camp secretary, 96, is “on the run” on the day her trial was due to start, a court said on Thursday.

 

Irmgard Furchner, who was between 18 and 19 years old at the time of the events and lives in a home for the elderly near Hamburg, was to be tried by a special youth court for “complicity in murder in more than 10,000 cases”, according to the prosecution.

 

She is accused of participating in the murder of inmates in the Stutthof concentration camp in present-day Poland, where she worked as a typist and secretary to the camp commander, Paul Werner Hoppe, between June 1943 and April 1945.

 

But the president of the court in Itzehoe said on Thursday morning “the accused is on the run”, adding an arrest warrant has been issued.

 

“She left her (elderly) home this morning. She took a taxi,” said a spokeswoman for the Itzehoe court, Frederike Milhoffer.

 

Her lawyer, Wolf Molkentin, was present in court but did not make any statement to journalists.

 

The presiding judge asked for “a little patience” as the opening of the trial on Thursday appeared to be in doubt.

 

Even if the accused is arrested, a medical examination will still have to be carried out to determine whether she is able to follow a hearing.

 

She is the only woman to be tried in Germany for involvement with the Nazis in decades.

 

Irmgard Furchner, who was between 18 and 19 years old at the time of the events and lives in a home for the elderly near Hamburg, is to be tried by a special youth court for “complicity in murder in more than 10,000 cases”, according to the prosecution.

 

The prosecution accuses her of participating in the murder of inmates in the Stutthof concentration camp in present-day Poland, where she worked as a typist and secretary to the camp commander, Paul Werner Hoppe, between June 1943 and April 1945.

 

In this camp near the city of Gdansk, where 65,000 people perished, “Jewish inmates, Polish partisans and Soviet prisoners of war” were systematically murdered, according to the prosecution.

 

The trial at a court in Itzehoe, northern Germany, will be followed a week later by the trial of a 100-year-old former Nazi camp guard at Sachsenhausen, near Berlin.

 

According to lawyer Christoph Rückel, who has represented Holocaust survivors for years, Irmgard Furchner “kept all the correspondence of the camp commander”.

 

“She also typed up the execution and deportation orders and initialled them,” he said on the regional public broadcaster NDR.