A 95-year-old German woman has been charged with complicity in the murders of 10,000 people while working as a Nazi concentration camp secretary when she was a minor
- A 95-year-old German woman was charged Friday with being complicit in the murders of 10,000 people.
- The charges stem from the woman's work as a Nazi concentration camp secretary when she was a minor.
- She has long claimed she didn't know about the mass-extermination of prisoners at the camp.
While the woman has not been publicly named, due to
Prosecutors said Irmgard worked as a stenographer and secretary to the commander of the Stutthof camp from June 1943 to April 1945, according to CNN.
In that capacity, she "is accused of having assisted those responsible at the camp in the systemic killing of Jewish prisoners, Polish partisans, and Soviet Russian prisoners of war."
According to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum in Israel, the Stutthof camp was established by the Nazis in 1939, just outside of the Polish city of Danzig (now Gdansk). Of the estimated 115,000 people that were housed at the camp, 65,000 died. Another 22,000 were transferred to other camps.
Yad Vashem said conditions at Stutthof were "unbearable" and that "starvation and disease were rampant."
"Prisoners were often executed, usually those who had taken part in the resistance movement. Selections would also take place from time to time. Those prisoners who were found to be too sick to work any more were exterminated in the camp's gas chamber," Yad Vashem said.
During her time at the camp, Irmgard was under the age of 21, meaning that if her case makes it to trial, she will be tried as a juvenile.
Irmgard, who lives at a care home in Pinneberg, near Hamburg, has maintained over the years she was unaware of the mass of deaths that happened at the camp, according to multiple reports.
However, she had a lot of administrative responsibility at the camp, which appears to have raised skepticism about her ignorance.
In previous statements to the authorities, Irmgard said all correspondence with the SS Economic Administration Main Office ran over her desk, and that the camp's commander dictated letters to her every day, and ordered radio messages through her.
Irmgard said she was aware the commander had ordered the executions of some prisoners, but presumed this was over misbehavior, NDR reported. She said she didn't know of anyone being gassed at the camp, though an estimated 1,000 prisoners died at Stutthof that way.
In her interview with NDR, she said she didn't learn about the mass extermination of Jews until after the war. She said she never laid a foot in the camp itself, and that her office window pointed away from the camp, so she couldn't see what was going on inside it.
The charges against Irmgard mark a rare instance of a woman being charged in connection to work at a Nazi concentration camp. BBC's Damien McGuinness explained that most cases focus on camp guards, not secretaries.
Onur Özata, a lawyer representing survivors in the trial, told The New York Times that the case is "a real milestone in judicial accountability."
"The fact that a secretary in this system, a bureaucratic cog, can be brought to justice is something new," Özata said.
It's up to the juvenile court in Schleswig-Holstein to determine whether the case should go to trial, according to the BBC.
The Associated Press reported that Irmgard is believed to be in good enough health to stand trial. Last year, a 93-year-old man was convicted of 5,232 counts of accessory to murder for his work as a Stutthof guard when he was 17.
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