German justice opens the way for the trial of a former Nazi camp secretary

Berlin | A former prison camp secretary, who is not born, now risks a trial for complicity in murder before German courts, which in recent years have expanded the scope of prosecutions targeting those responsible for Nazi crimes.

Now 95, she will be the first woman to appear in Germany’s latest trial of Nazi atrocities, where several men have been tried.

The accused, whose identity has not been revealed by the prosecution, will be tried before a special juvenile court because she was still a teenager at the time of the facts.

The indictment accuses him of “complicity in murder in more than 10,000 cases.” In other cases, they are being tried for complicity in attempted murder, ”the Prosecutor’s Office in Itzehoe (northwestern Germany) wrote in a press release.

The prosecutor accuses him that between June 1943 and April 1945 he “provided assistance to those responsible for the systematic massacres of Jewish prisoners, Polish supporters and Russian Soviet prisoners of war while working as a stenographer and secretary of the former concentration camp commander in Stutthof,” located 40 km from Gdansk, now in Poland.

Potentially “decent” to judge

In this camp, which was first established outside Germany, about 65,000 people, most of them Jews from the Baltic states and Poland, were killed by bullets in the back of the neck, Zyklon B gases, and hanged, while not surrendering. To cold, epidemics and forced labor.

However, the trial procedure is not yet certain: the courts must first decide, given her old age, whether the former camp employee is suitable to appear in court.

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In response to a question by Agence France-Presse, the prosecutor is now assuming she is “fit for trial.”

Prosecutor Peter Mueller Raku said investigations into this case were “very long”, with witnesses being questioned in the United States and Israel in particular.

The “central legal issue” of the procedure will be the issue of the accused’s “concrete responsibility” for complicity in the murders of which she is accused. He added that this could only be clarified “while witnesses heard” in court.

Late Justice

According to German media, there are ten judicial investigations into Nazi crimes underway in the country.

The NDR reported in 2019 the case of Ermgaard F, the former personal secretary of the Stutthof camp commander who now lives in a elderly home north of Hamburg.

Another file concerns a former SS guard from the same camp, also 95 years old. He was indicted last July with complicity in the killing in several hundred cases. His ability to reappear is being evaluated and no trial date has been set.

In recent years, Germany has tried and convicted several of the former SS and expanded camp guards to the charge of complicity in the murder, demonstrating the more seriousness of its justice, although the victims deemed it too late.

In July 2020, a Hamburg court sentenced Bruno Day, a 93-year-old former concentration camp guard, to two years in prison for complicity in the 5,232 murders and attempted murder in Stutthof.

The most telling case was the five-year prison sentence of John Demjanjuk, a former guard of the Sobibor extermination camp, in 2011.

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Although this delayed justice is controversial, it allows “to give a voice to the victims and their families and to return the facts to the public consciousness,” attorney Andrei Umansky, author, explained during a previous proceeding. A book about the Holocaust in the East.

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