Closing An Era

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A German court convicted a 97-year-old woman who worked as a secretary at a Nazi concentration camp of accessory to murder in the killing of thousands of people, following a trial considered the last of its kind against Nazi war criminals, NBC News reported.

The court handed Irmgard Furchner a two-year suspended sentence for assisting in the function of the Stutthof concentration camp during World War II. It said Furchner was an accessory to 10,505 counts of murder and five counts of attempted murder while working as a shorthand typist at the camp based in Poland between June 1943 and April 1945.

The verdict was in line with what prosecutors requested. Survivors of the camp and victims’ relatives said it was not in their interest for Furchner to serve time in prison.

Furchner’s lawyers asked for her acquittal, saying that evidence did not show beyond reasonable doubt that she had known about the systematic killing at the concentration camp. The defendant herself admitted that she was sorry for what happened and regretted her presence at the death camp.

According to the website of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, about 60,000 people died at the camp near Gdansk, in northwestern Poland, some by lethal injection and others in the camp’s gas chamber. Others perished because of disease or malnutrition.

The victims included Jews, political prisoners, alleged criminals, people suspected of homosexual acts and Jehovah’s Witnesses.

This conviction was not the first time that defendants who were not directly involved in killings in death camps were found guilty of aiding and abetting murder.

Both Oskar Gröning, an accountant at Auschwitz, and John Demjanjuk, a guard at Sobibor, were found guilty of accessory to murder in German courts.

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