Alleged Nazi-era war criminal, 96, misses court date, declared fugitive in Germany


Cnaan Liphshiz

(JTA) — A judge in Germany issued an arrest warrant for a 96-year-old suspected war criminal who had failed to show up for the first day of her trial.

The woman, Irmgard Furchner, is charged with complicity in the murders of 10,000 people at Stutthof, a camp in occupied Poland, where she had served as a secretary during World War II.

The Regional Court of Itzehoe near Hamburg declared Furchner a “fugitive” on Thursday when she failed to appear before the court and after it had emerged that she left her nursing home in a taxi that morning to an unknown destination, the Frankfurter Allgemeine reported.

“She left her (elderly) home this morning. She took a taxi,” a spokeswoman for the Itzehoe court, Frederike Milhoffer, told reporter when asked about the defendant’s whereabouts.

Although she is 96, Furchner is being tried by a special youth court for “complicity in murder in more than 10,000 cases”, according to the prosecution. She was 18 when she served in Stutthof.

The indictment against her is based on testimonies from survivors of the camps who are now living in the United States and Israel. About 65,000 people were murdered at Stutthof.

“If she’s fit enough to escape her trial, she is fit enough to stand trial,” Efraim Zuroff, a hunter of Nazis and Eastern Europe director at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Furchner prior to her trial had argued that her advanced age and medical complications connected to it prevent her from standing trial.

She has admitted to working at Stutthof but has denied having any knowledge of the murders at the camp. It was one of just a few concentration camps where the Nazis and their accomplices operated a stationary gas chamber.

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