January 27, 2023

97-year-old former secretary of the Nazi death camp Stutthof, convicted by a German court

97-year-old former secretary of the Nazi death camp Stutthof, convicted by a German court

Earlier this month, Fortuner broke her silence and made one last, unexpected statement.

She said she was sorry about what had happened, and regretted that she was in Stutthof at the time and had nothing left to say. Previously, Forschner had attended court hearings but remained silent throughout the 14 months of the hearings.

Holocaust survivors and their representatives begged Forschner to speak during the trial, according to German media reports.

The German tabloid dubbed Forschner “the secretary of evil.”,” referring to the “banality of evil,” a phrase made famously by Jewish philosopher Hannah Arendt in 1963 when reporting on the trial of Adolf Eichmann, one of the primary organizers of the Holocaust.

Forchner skipped the start of her trial Leaving her home in a taxi in the morning was scheduled to begin in September 2021. She spent five days in custody but was later released. The court later clarified that given the woman’s age and condition, it was not expected that she would “effectively escape prosecution”.

More than 60,000 people died in the camp near Gdańsk, in today’s Poland, according to the United States Holocaust Memorial website — many by lethal injection and in the camp’s gas chamber, others from disease or starvation.

Among them were Jews, political prisoners, accused criminals, people suspected of homosexual activity, and Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Forschner’s trial is not the first time that people who were not directly involved in concentration camp killings have been convicted of aiding and abetting murder.

Oskar Gröning, who worked as an accountant at Auschwitz, and John Demjanjuk, who worked as a guard in Sobibor, were both convicted of complicity in murder in German courts in previous years.

But Forschner’s trial may be the last of its kind, as the accused Nazi war criminals are aging and suffering from ill health.

Andy Eckardt reported in Mainz, Germany, and Mary Brookling in Hong Kong.