On Thursday, an elderly lady was found and detained by police, having fled her care home before she was supposed to go on trial for offenses allegedly committed more than 75 years ago.
With the trial approaching, the woman, Irmgard Furchner, left her care home in a taxi and went to an underground station on Thursday morning, a spokeswoman for the district court said.
The district court in Germany promptly issued an arrest warrant for a 96-year-old woman who had worked as a secretary in a Nazi death camp between 1943 and 1945, declaring her a fugitive.
She was due to go on trial on Thursday on charges of complicity in murder at the Stutthof death camp, which sat on the Baltic coast in Nazi-occupied Poland during World War II.
According to German media, she had previously written a letter to the presiding judge, noting that she did not want to appear in court.
Deutsche Welle reported that the announcement of her fleeing came as the court was preparing to start proceedings. Now she has been found, she will be brought to the court and assessed to see if she is fit to stand trial, a Deutsche Welle reporter said earlier on Thursday, citing the arrest warrant.
She is charged with complicity in the deaths of 11,412 people and attempted murder of 18 others.
The trial, if it goes ahead, will take place in the juvenile chamber of Itzehoe district court, close to Quickborn, north of Hamburg, as she was only 18 and 19 at the time of the alleged crimes.
Prosecutors stated in their charge sheet that, between June 1943 and April 1945, Furchner “assisted those responsible at the camp in the systematic killing of Jewish prisoners, Polish partisans and Soviet Russian prisoners of war, in her role as a stenographer and secretary to the camp commander.”
She would be the first woman to stand trial in connection to atrocities committed by the Third Reich in decades.
Her trial is partially the result of a 2011 verdict against camp guard John Demjanjuk, who was sentenced for aiding and abetting the murders of 28,000 people at the Sobibor death camp in Poland.
The trial set the precedent that people could be held responsible for crimes committed at such camps, regardless of how small their role was.
It is understood that Furchner’s defense will argue that she was restricted to desk work.
Germany’s crackdown on Nazi war criminals began following the 2011 Munich trial of John Demjanjuk, a Nazi war criminal charged of assisting in the murder of 28,060 people at the Sobibor death camp and sentenced to five years. He died in 2012.
Last year, 93-year-old Stutthof camp guard Bruno Dey was convicted of 5,232 counts of accessory to murder in Hamburg state court, equal to the number of people believed to have been killed at Stutthof during his service there in 1944 and 1945.
Earlier this year, German prosecutors charged a 100-year-old man who allegedly served as a Nazi concentration camp guard where more than 100,000 people were killed during World War II.
Days earlier, Germany charged a former secretary from the Stutthof Nazi concentration camp with complicity in the murders of 10,000 people.
Some of those convicted of Nazi-era war crimes never served their sentences as they passed away before being jailed.
One such convict, Reinhold Hanning, was found guilty of complicity in the mass murders at Auschwitz. However, Hanning died at the age of 95 in June of 2017, before he could serve his jail term.
In a similar case, Oskar Groening, known as the “Bookkeeper of Auschwitz”, died in March of 2018 before he could begin serving a four-year prison sentence after being convicted for the crime of accessory to the murder of 300,000 Hungarian Jews at Auschwitz.
Last April, a German court dropped a case against 95-year-old former Nazi concentration camp guard, Johann Rehbogen, finding him unfit for trial due to illness.
Source: Arutz Sheva