In Germany, a former secretary of the Stutthof concentration camp has been charged with complicity in the murders committed there. It is the first time in many years that a German woman has to answer for her actions in World War II.
The now 95-year-old woman from Hamburg, whose identity has not been disclosed, worked in the concentration camp near Danzig, todays Gdansk in Poland between June 1943 and April 1945. She was secretary to the commander when thousands of Jews, Soviet prisoners of war and Poles were systematically murdered.
Since the woman was under 21 at the time and therefore underage under German law, her case is dealt with by the Judge Judge. He will first have to decide whether the woman can handle a trial.
According to the prosecution, the secretarys work helped to make the offences committed in the camp possible. Thats why she can be prosecuted as Beihilfe without any evidence that she herself did anything to prisoners.
This reasoning was successfully applied for the first time against camp guard John Demjanjuk, who was sentenced to five years in prison as guardian of Sobibor in 2011, followed by more cases against highly elderly suspects. Last year, at the age of 93, former Stutthof guard Bruno Dey was given a two-year probation sentence.
Stutthof was the first concentration camp that the Nazis set up outside Germany, one day after the invasion of Poland. Of the 100,000 people detained there, about 65,000 did not survive. The victims were gassed, shot a neck or died of hardships and illnesses in the camp. Stutthof was the last camp to be liberated: on 9 May 1945.
In the years after the war, dozens of employees of the camp in Poland were tried. Among others, some female guards were given the death penalty. Administrative staff have not yet been prosecuted for their involvement in these years.
In 2016, the German justice started a new investigation into employees of Stutthof who were still alive. In the complex case, witnesses have also been heard in the US and in Israel. There are also investigations into staff of Buchenwald, Sachsenhausen, Neuengamme and Mauthausen.