Trial against former concentration camp secretary: suspended sentence demanded

The trial against a 97-year-old former concentration camp secretary has been going on for over a year. Now the public prosecutor’s office demanded a youth suspended sentence.

The accused Irmgard F. (l) sits next to her lawyers at the beginning of the day of the trial Photo: Marcus Brandt/dpa

BERLIN taz | Two years of imprisonment on probation for being an accessory to murder in a concentration camp: This is the sentence demanded by the public prosecutor against a former secretary of the Stutthof concentration camp near Danzig (today Gdansk). In the trial before the Itzehoe district court, public prosecutor Maxi Wantzen argued in her plea that the 97-year-old defendant have been found guilty of being an accessory to more than 10,000 counts of insidious and gruesome murder.

According to the prosecution, Irmgard F.’s paperwork in the concentration camp commander’s office ensured that the camp could be maintained. Due to her willingness to work, she was an important support for the camp commandant and his adjutants.

According to the public prosecutor, Irmgard F., as the only secretary to the commander, should have known about the hostile conditions and the murders in the concentration camp. She could see the smoke from the burning of the corpses in the crematorium and on a pyre. She did not enter the fenced camp herself. “In my view, that was not necessary to have knowledge of the mass murders,” said Wantzen.

Since a decision by the Federal Court of Justice in September 2016, it has been possible to convict concentration camp employees even if they cannot be individually accused of murder. It is enough if they support the murderous activity in a camp with their work.

The comparatively low sentence corresponds exactly to a judgment that was made a good two years ago in another Stutthof process was imposed. In July 2020, the Hamburg Regional Court also sentenced former concentration camp guard Bruno D. to a two-year suspended sentence.

escape from the process

As with D., juvenile criminal law is also used in the Itzeho trial. Irmgard F. was only 18 and 19 years old at the time of the alleged crimes. She has not once commented on the allegations in her trial. However, at the beginning of the process in September 2021, she made it more than clear what she thought of the process: At that time, the woman who lived in a retirement home did not appear in the courtroom, but evaded the process by escaping by taxi at the Hamburg city limits. There she was caught by the police on the same day and was briefly taken into custody because of the risk of escaping.

Irmgard F. worked from June 1943 to April 1945 as a so-called civilian employee in the concentration camp headquarters. In interrogations before the trial began, she said she had been forced to do this service. A historical expert in the case disagreed with this version of what happened.

At the beginning of November, the court visited the Stutthof Memorial in Poland and also inspected the former headquarters building. According to the record of this on-site visit, the accused was able to see the so-called new camp when looking out of the window of the office, which also included the “Jewish camp” with particularly terrible prison conditions. The view from the room of the concentration camp commander Werner Hoppe was similar. The view from a third room, which served as a storeroom during the Nazi era, showed the barracks of the old camp, the crematorium and the gassing facility.

The trial will continue next week with the co-plaintiffs’ pleadings. A verdict is expected by the end of the year. The prosecution expressed the assumption that this could be the last trial against a suspected Nazi perpetrator. But in Coburg, Bavaria, the public prosecutor’s office is currently investigating a guard at the Ravensbrück concentration camp.

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