German Nazi war crimes suspect, 96, who went on the run goes on trial

October 21, 2021


Irmgard Furchner, a 96-year-old former secretary to the SS commander of the Stutthof concentration camp, is pictured at the beginning of her trial in a courtroom, in Itzehoe, Germany, October 19, 2021. Christian Charisius/Pool via REUTERS
A 96-year-old German woman who was caught shortly after going on the run ahead of a court hearing last month on charges of committing war crimes during World War Two appeared before a judge on Tuesday in the northern town of Itzehoe, writes Miranda Murray, Reuters.
Irmgard Furchner (pictured), accused of having contributed as an 18-year-old to the murder of 11,412 people when she was a typist at the Stutthof concentration camp between 1943 and 1945, was taken into the sparse courtroom in a wheelchair.
Her face was barely visible behind a white mask and scarf pulled low over her eyes. Security was heavy as the judge and legal staff made their way into the court.
Between 1939 and 1945 some 65,000 people died of starvation and disease or in the gas chamber at the concentration camp near Gdansk, in today’s Poland. They included prisoners of war and Jews caught up in the Nazis’ extermination campaign.
Irmgard Furchner, a 96-year-old former secretary to the SS commander of the Stutthof concentration camp, arrives in a wheelchair at the beginning of her trial in a courtroom, in Itzehoe, Germany, October 19, 2021. Christian Charisius/Pool via REUTERS
Judge Dominik Gross arrives in the courtroom for the trial against Irmgard Furchner, a 96-year-old former secretary to the SS commander of the Stutthof concentration camp, in Itzehoe, Germany, October 19, 2021. Christian Charisius/Pool via REUTERS
The trial was postponed after Furchner left her home early on Sept. 30 and went on the run for several hours before being detained later that day.
Charges could not be read until Furchner, who faces trial in an adolescent court because of her young age at the time of the alleged crimes, was present in court.
She is the latest nonagenarian to have been charged with Holocaust crimes in what is seen as a rush by prosecutors to seize the final opportunity to enact justice for the victims of some of the worst mass killings in history.
Although prosecutors convicted major perpetrators – those who issued orders or pulled triggers – in the 1960s “Frankfurt Auschwitz Trials”, the practice until the 2000s was to leave lower-level suspects alone.

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EU seeks to rally against anti-Semitism

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In December, the heads of state and government seek to adopt a declaration at the next EU summit to establish a uniform approach within the European community against all forms of hatred towards Jews.
“It is our constant, shared responsibility to protect and support Jewish life actively,” says the draft resolution, which is set under the preamble: “Anti-Semitism is an attack on European values.”
The initiative to develop binding guidelines was put on the agenda by Germany, which holds the EU Council Presidency until the end of the year. Two years ago, the member states committed themselves to national strategies against anti-Semitism the first time.
Especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, it was observed how anti-Semitic prejudices were openly conducted.
Among other things, the declaration calls for “awareness of anti-Semitism in all political areas” and the tackling of “a cross-cutting issue in which various government agencies and policy areas at local, national and European level should be involved.”
Recently, a study by the Israeli foreign ministry indicated how anti-Semitism significantly increased ever since the pandemic had started, particularly in regard to conspiracy theories.
According to the analysis, most anti-Semitic statements connected with the world health crisis were posted online in the US, France, and Germany.
The EU’s plan states that “anti-Semitic conspiracy myths are often the first step that can lead to hatred, hate speech, incitement to violence, and hate crimes.”
The latter is why the heads of state and government and the European Commission seek to upgrade the European anti-Semitism commissioners’ work.
In drawing up the declaration, they worked closely with the Jewish organizations and responsible specialist politicians in Europe. There is positive progress at the European level; however, the effects are not yet reaching the Jewish Europeans. The latter is why the EU Commission also seeks to present a common strategy with further concrete measures against anti-Semitism next year.
Within the member states, the new EU agreement is intended to provide authorities such as public prosecutors and police forces and social institutions such as schools in the future as a practicable basis for assessing anti-Jewish tendencies.
Germany’s council presidency has been under the radar due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The upcoming December declaration, however, could mark a significant moment, nonetheless.
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The Prime Minister rightly points out that we put Jerusalem at the heart of our upcoming conference. It is the capital and the beating heart of the Jewish people and a city that is dedicated to safeguarding freedom of religion for all.

We thank the Prime Minister for his warm words of encouragement and support for our work, and look forward to many more years of activities that, as he points out, “contributes greatly to the welfare and continuity of the Jewish people.”

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First candle of Chanukah- #LightingEurope

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Although we can't stop the least we could do is help those in need

Dear Friends,
Jewish Communities in Ukraine are on the frontline. Our brothers and sisters there
are danger and face an uncertain future. They need your help. Urgently.
The Federation of Jewish Communities in Ukraine is doing all it can, working night
and day to help the 180 communities it serves.
We are asked to help those in need. It is in our Jewish DNA to do so. Thankfully and
rarely are we asked to help Jews stuck in a warzone. But today is such a time.
I ask you humbly and gratefully to dig deep. To give all that you can to help the
Federation, in this their time of greatest need.
Know that any contribution given will go directly to four key areas.
1. Urgent kosher food packages to feed Jewish families
2. Providing medicines for those who are stuck at home and cannot get
medical help
3. Protecting Jewish Institutions and individual Jewish properties from
harm.
4. Helping those Jews who wish to escape Ukraine to do so
Thank you dear friends from the bottom of our hearts for helping Jews in need in
Ukraine.
You can do so by clicking on the link below:
I also ask you to share this link as far and wide as possible, let us do all we can to
help
. Yours gratefully,
Rabbi Menachem Margolin
Chairman.
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