Former Nazi secretary gets well-deserved conviction

Lydia Seo, Opinions Writer

In what may be one of the last trials of its kind, a German court found a 97-year-old former Nazi-concentration camp secretary guilty of being an accessory to the murders of over 10,000 people during the holocaust. Irmgard Furchner was given a 2-year suspended sentence for the crimes she committed as a 19-year-old, working in the Stutthof concentration camp. As a secretary and stenographer, she helped complete paperwork that was, “necessary for the organization of the camp and the execution of the cruel, systematic acts of killing,” according to AP News. Although Furchner’s current old age was a factor to be considered throughout the trial, the German Government was undoubtedly justified in trying and convicting her of these murders, as the positive impacts of doing so, for both the victims of oppression and the general public, vastly outweigh any of the potential negative effects on Furchner as an individual. 

A fact that will remain unchanged, no matter how many years pass, is that Furchner’s role was integral to the functioning of the camp, and therefore in the brutal systematic murder of thousands of innocent people. The Stutthof concentration camp, like many others,  committed these murders through gassings, death marches and execution camps. A world of inhumane terror existed just outside of Furchner’s office, as she turned a blind eye, preparing paperwork that made it all happen. The lives that Furchner helped end and the suffering that she helped inflict upon the victims of these atrocities deserve to see justice for what they had to endure, even if the accused happens to be 97 years old.

No matter how much time has passed, Furchner must still take accountability for her actions. “You have to acknowledge that when someone does a crime, they must face punishment,” freshman Chloe Brown said. Nearing the end of her trial, the former Nazi secretary unexpectedly apologized to the victims present, saying that she regretted being in Stutthof at the time. In order for Furchner to take accountability for her actions and the suffering she caused, a guilty verdict was necessary – she lived her entire life unscathed while thousands of people lost their lives and loved ones because of her. “She’s already gotten the opportunity to live such a long life…obviously people in like concentration camps, you know, didn’t get that,” freshman Sophie Zheng said.

According to VOA News, there were multiple survivors of the camp that came forward with accounts of their excruciating experiences during Furchner’s trial. Above all, justice for these victims is what needed to be prioritized, making a guilty verdict necessary and fitting. The kind of punishment that Furchner received, in comparison to the kind of suffering she perpetuated and the severity of murdering thousands of people,  was, if anything, not severe enough. Her sentence, however, was shortened to two-year probation due to her old age: the co-plaintiffs did not want to see her serve real prison time. 

Not only was this trial a way to provide some closure for the holocaust victims’ families and the systematic oppression that came about with it but the guilty verdict and sentencing sends an important message surrounding the lack of tolerance we should have for Nazism and Nazi ideologies. Nazism is especially dangerous, and hateful views are completely intolerable in any form. The German Government’s choice to go through with the trial and conviction emphasizes the fact that Nazism of any kind is unacceptable, no matter who, or how old, you are.