German woman, 95, charged with complicity in more than 10,000 murders in concentration camp

Stutthof camp, BBC
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German prosecutors on Friday filed charges against a 95-year-old woman for her alleged role in the murder of more than 10,000 people at the Stutthof concentration camp in Poland during the World War II. She had been under investigation since 2016.

The woman who was 21 years at that time worked as a secretary and commandant’s aide in the camp for two years. She will be tried in juvenile court since she was under 21 years at the time of the alleged crime, according to the report.

The former secretary “is accused of having assisted those responsible at the camp in the systematic killing of Jewish prisoners, Polish partisans and Soviet Russian prisoners of war in her function as a stenographer and secretary to the camp commander,” the prosecutors in Itzehoe said.

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The woman whose name was not released due to German privacy laws, is also accused of complicity in attempted murder – a charge that refers to the tens of thousands of people who survived despite the brutal conditions and cruel treatment that were imposed on them.

Built in 1939, the Stutthof concentration camp along Poland’s Baltic coast east of Gdansk was the first established by the Nazis outside of Germany.  The woman worked in the camp from June 1943 to April 1945, as a close aide to the SS commandant of Stutthof.

During the period she worked in the camp, the Nazis reportedly used Zyklon B gas chambers to exterminate prisoners. About 65,000 people were reportedly killed by the Nazis and another 22,000 transferred to other camps.

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Stutthof prisoners eat during a break in the construction of the camp, October 1939. Wikipedia

According to NPR, the woman told German public broadcaster NDR in 2019 that she cooperated with authorities and gave witness accounts of what she had seen. She denied being aware of mass poisonings or murders because her office window faced away from the camp.

“It’s a real milestone in judicial accountability,” Onur Özata, a lawyer representing survivors in a previous trial of a former camp secretary, told The New York Times. “The fact that a secretary in this system, a bureaucratic cog, can be brought to justice is something new.”

The new case is the first in years against a woman who worked at a concentration camp, according to Agence France-Presse.

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A juvenile court in Schleswig-Holstein must now decide whether the woman’s case should go to trial since she was a minor during that time, the BBC reported.

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