One survivor from a Nazi concentration camp described the brutal tactics used by guards to kill prisoners. They would throw them against electric fencing or set dogs on them during the trial of a woman, who claims she was not involved in any of more than 11,000 deaths between 1943 and 1945.

Speaking during the trial via videolink from the US, Asia Shindelman described the horrors she witnessed at Stutthof camp in Nazi-occupied Danzig, now in Poland.

Irmgard Furchner, a 96-year-old typist who has been dubbed the ‘Secretary of Evil’, is accused of being an accessory to the murder of 11,412 at the camp through her work as the secretary to the SS commander at Stutthof. Furchner denies all charges.

96-year-old defendant Irmgard Furchner, a former secretary for the SS commander of the Stutthof concentration camp, sits in a courtroom in Itzehoe, northern Germany, on December 7, 2021. On Tuesday, she heard further testimony from a concentration camp survivor

Irmgard Furchner (96), a defendant in the case, is seen in a Itzehoe courtroom on December 7, 2021. She was a former secretary to the SS commander at Stutthof concentration camps. She heard additional testimony Tuesday from another survivor of the concentration camp.

Furchner, who was only 18 at the time she began work at the Baltic Coast camp, is now the first woman in decades to face trial for crimes related to the Third Reich.

The woman claimed that she was unaware of mass murder at the Stutthof camp because she worked in an outside office. 

Ms Shindelman, born in Lithuania in 1928, spoke in Russian as she recounted her happy life as a child to the court in Itzehoe, northern Germany, according to German news website Der Spiegel.

From her New Jersey home, the 93 year-old said she lived among loving and caring people. Her father, a businessman in the area who owned a salon for beauty treatments, spoke Yiddish.

All that changed after the Nazi occupation. “We Jews couldn’t walk on the sidewalk anymore, we were only allowed to cross the street, where there were cars driving,” she stated.

“We were required to have stars of David on all our clothing. The prohibition of shopping at grocery stores was enforced. Radios and telephones had to be returned.

To the camera, she stated that “And then the murder started.” 

Furchner was just 18 when she started work at Stutthof camp on the Baltic coast in Nazi-occupied Poland, and is the first woman to stand trial in decades over crimes connected to the Third Reich

Irmgard Furchner is standing trial for complicity in the murder of more than 10,000 people at Stutthof camp in Nazi-occupied Poland between 1943 and 1945.

Irmgard Furchner, left and right in 1944, was only 18 years old when she began work at the camp along the Baltic coast. She is now the first woman in many decades to be tried for crimes related to the Third Reich.

Ms Shindelman recalls how her family was taken to a Ghetto in August 1941. The three families were forced to share a room and all died from hunger, cold, or both. 

As an example for the others, one person was caught bringing a package of cigarettes into the ghetto. She told the court that she had been hanging in public.

Then, on July 25, 1944, Ms Shindelman was taken to the Stutthof concentration camp near Danzig. She was also taken along with her two older brothers, her uncle, and grandmother on a journey of four days in cattle wagons.

The heat was so hot that they didn’t get any food or water.

They arrived at the station and she reported that Nazi officers were shouting at them, ‘Faster’. A sign said ‘Waldlager Stutthof.

The officers led the group to tables where they registered each one with a number. It was 54138. She was able to recall her number. It was 54138.

On the same day, Ms Shindelman says her grandmother was murdered in a gas chamber, while she and her mother were taken to a barracks with three-story wooden beds, with no bedding or toilets. Her mother and she slept on the ground.

The guards could do anything they pleased. People were thrown against the electric fence and killed immediately. Some others threw them into dogs or shot them straight, she said to the court. 

She said that the Germans could also kill us, and recalled how prisoners had to stand in line for hours every day like soldiers. Anybody who fell would be executed.

Irmgard Furchner, the 'Secretary of Evil',  faces charges of assisting in the murder of more than 11,000 prisoners at Stutthof concentration camp (pictured), 33 miles east of Danzig in Poland

Irmgard Furchner, the ‘Secretary of Evil’,  faces charges of assisting in the murder of more than 11,000 prisoners at Stutthof concentration camp (pictured), 33 miles east of Danzig in Poland

At this point in Ms Shindelman’s testimony, Irmgard Furchner had taken her headphones out, seemingly disinterested. She was told to stop and listen by the judge.

Wolf Molkentin, Furchner’s defense attorney said that although the horrific events at the camp were well documented and the Nazi actions were clearly visible to the public, there was no evidence to support Furchner being convicted.

According to him, so far, nothing suggests that any secretary or typist could have played any role in the crimes at the camp. 

Furchner’s legal case is built on German precedents that have been proven in German cases in the past decade. Anyone who has helped Nazi death camps and concentration camp function can be tried as an accessory for the crimes committed there even though they don’t need to prove their involvement. 

Tuesday was the ninth day of Furchner’s trial, which continues. 

Stutthof, located in the vicinity of Gdansk (Polish), was the first death camp built outside Germany.

It was home to approximately 110,000 persons, including 65,000 who died during its six-year existence.

As Holocaust survivor Mr Salomonovic spoke in the courtroom on December 7, Furchner - who had been brought in by guards in a wheelchair - was seen tightly clutching her cane while staring intensely at him through her glasses

Furchner, a Holocaust survivor who spoke in courtroom December 7th, was observed tightly gripping her cane as she stared intently into his eyes through her glasses.

Irmgard Furchner (pictured in white), a typist who has been dubbed the 'secretary of evil', hears from a Holocaust survivor (Josef Salomonovic, shown left on December 7) to testify at the trial in Itzehoe, northern Germany

Irmgard furchner (pictured in White), a Typist who’s been nicknamed the’secretary to evil’ hears from Josef Salomonovic (pictured left on December 7) as he testifies at the Itzehoe Trial in northern Germany.

Built originally to accommodate intelligence officers and intellectuals from Poland, this camp has since been expanded to contain significant numbers of Jews.

Many of the camp’s inmates died at gas chambers. However, tens of thousands more were also killed by starvation and disease epidemics. Around 28,000 of those who perished were Jews.  

Last week, Furchner was photographed in the courtroom wearing a cream-coloured puffer jacket and matching beret, large sunglasses and a face-mask concealing her face, as she heard from another camp survivor and witness Josef Salomonovic.

As Salomonovic spoke in the courtroom, Furchner – who had been brought in by guards in a wheelchair – was seen tightly clutching her cane while staring intensely at him through her glasses.

According to The Telegraph, Mr Salomonovic (83 years old) a Jewish Holocaust survivor whose family is from Czechosloavkia gave an harrowing testimony.

He said he was just six years old when his father kissed him goodbye for the last time before he was killed by a lethal injection to the heart at the Stutthof death camp.

“Maybe she struggles to sleep at night.” I know I do,’ Mr Salomonovic said when asked by a prosecutor whether he had a message for Furchner.

Concentration camp survivor and witness Josef Salomonovic is seen in the courtroom prior to the continuation of the trial of a 96-year-old defendant, a former secretary for the SS commander of the Stutthof concentration camp, in Itzehoe, on December 7, 2021

Josef Salomonovic (survivor from concentration camp) is seen in the courtroom before continuing the trial of a 96year-old defendant. The former secretary of the SS commander in the Stutthof concentration prison camp in Itzehoe was held on December 7, 2021.

Mr Salomonovic dismissed the possibility that Furchner had no knowledge of the killings, telling reporters after the December 7 hearing that even if she was not directly responsible, she was still indirectly guilty – even if all she did was stamp his father’s death certificate.

In court, he held up a picture of his father to Furchner, saying he was testifying for his family. It is difficult to go through all of this again. It is a moral obligation. It is not enjoyable.

Recalling how his mother was stripped of her clothes and possessions as a kid, he said that he watched as they shaved their heads. He claimed that he did not recognize his mother after the incident.

Mr Salomonovic went on to describe how he survived eight concentration camps, including Auschwitz, but said Stutthof was the worst he experienced.

“I was considered a parasite.” He said that everyone who could not work was considered a parasite. “I got in the wagon with the cattle and didn’t realize we were heading to Auschwitz. I also did not know this would be the last time that I saw my father. He kissed me.’

Furchner  (pictured centre) was photographed in the courtroom last week wearing a cream-coloured puffer jacket and matching beret, large sunglasses and a face-mask concealing her face

Furchner  (pictured centre) was photographed in the courtroom last week wearing a cream-coloured puffer jacket and matching beret, large sunglasses and a face-mask concealing her face

Together with Dora Salomonovic and her brother Michael, Mr Salomonovic survived. Salomonovic said that his mother asked for her son to be transferred from the men’s camp into the women camp. They were surprised to learn that his brother was included.

The family were brought from Czechosloavkia because they were Jewish.

According to the 83-year old, the worst thing was hunger and cold. He told court how he used to crouch under his mother’s legs in order stay warm.

After he began working at a Dresden munitions factory, Mr Salomonovic claimed he believed he would die. The SS officer reaching for his gun said: “This filth must be gone.” 

The witness stated that there had been a bombing at the same time. He said that this is why he’s still alive. 

Speaking in October, prosecutor Maxi Wantzen told that Furchner had knowledge of all of the horrific events at the camp due to her work for the commandment of the camp and was informed ‘down to the last detail’ about the murder methods practised there.

He added that through her work as the camp secretary, she ensured ‘the smooth functioning of the camp’, the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper reported.   

Holocaust camp: Jews sent to the death camps with horrors like torture, gas chambers, mass hangings

The Stutthof Camp was founded in 1939, when Germany invaded Poland. It was expanded in 1943 by a new camp surrounded with electrified wire fences.

It was initially used to collect Jews and other non-Jewish Poles from Danzig, a nearby Baltic Sea city.

It was used from 1940 to be a ‘work education camp’. This allowed forced workers, mostly Polish and Soviet citizens, who were raped by Nazis, to receive sentences, and sometimes even die. Other inmates were criminals, political prisoners and homosexuals.

It was full of tens to thousands of Jews, both from the Baltics and Auschwitz ghettos, as well as thousands of civilians from Poland, who were swept up during the brutal suppression in Warsaw of the uprising. 

It was estimated that 100,000 people were eventually deported from the camp. Some of these individuals had been transferred from the camps left by Nazis at the end of the war.

There were gas chambers and lethal injections. Many of these prisoners also died from diseases that occurred under strict supervision by the SS.

It is believed that around 60,000 died at the camp. Another 25,000 were killed while trying to evacuate in chaotic last weeks of Third Reich.

After being liberated in May 1945 by Soviet forces, the camp was once more located within Poland’s borders. The town is known as Sztutowo.

Janina Grabowska–Chalka, historian and longtime director at the Stutthof Museum described daily life in the camp’s camp as harsh.

“All prisoners at the Stutthof concentration camp were forced to work, including women, children and men. The camp’s rhythm was determined by hard work, which exceeded the human power.

She said that Studtof was from the camps with very difficult living conditions.

Abraham Koryski, a Holocaust survivor, gave evidence to the court in 2019. He described the horrific experiences he had at the Stuthoff concentration camp during World War II.

According to DW: Koryski said that she was beaten almost continuously while at work, as Koryski explained to the Hamburg District Court. 

He stated that SS Guards were known to put on vile ‘torture’ shows, one of which saw a father being forced to beat his son to death before other inmates. 

Koryski explained that it was not clear if officers were following orders or acting off their break. 

Manfred Goldberg, a Holocaust survivor, told the Duke and Duchess to Cambridge that Jewish lives did not matter in 2017. The group had to gather in one square. The eight hanging nooses were hung down from a huge gallow, and then we watched these innocents being hanged one by one. 

Furchner ran from her retirement home and made her way to the Metro station, where she was due to be tried.

After several hours of evading police, the pensioner was finally captured in Hamburg. He was temporarily taken into custody by authorities.

Furchner was released by the court five days later “under the condition that precautionary measures” according to Frederike Millhoffer earlier this year. She also stated that Furchner will be appearing at the next appointment.

According to media reports the suspect has been equipped with an electronic tag that will allow her to be tracked wherever she is.

Another horrific story about the camp, and about those who were involved in it’s operation has been exposed by the trial. 

On October 10, the court was told how SS soldiers dressed in medical white uniforms tried to pretend they were doctors and measured prisoners’ heights.

Instead, the prisoner was made to be the height for the specially designed ‘neck shot’ device.

In less than two hours, approximately 30 prisoners were gunned in the neck.

Other cases saw prisoners being forced to enter chambers that were filled with the poisonous Zyklon B Gas.

These prisoners shouted and scratched their skin until they were reddened raw. Some even took their hair out.

Furchner was born Irmgard Dirksen May 19, 1925 and worked as a secretary for Paul Werner Hoppe, the commandant of concentration camps.

She was just 18 years old at the time and is currently being tried in juvenile court.

According to the prosecution, her role as secretary helped the wider “killing apparatus” of the concentration camp.

The prosecutor described in the trial earlier this year how on July 22, 1944, SS Obersturmbahnführer Paul Maurer gave orders that a group of prisoners at Stutthof be transported to Auschwitz for extermination.

The commandant at Stutthof created a list with the names of those prisoners who were due to be released four days later.

The commandant Hoppe then confirmed by radio, at 6.05pm that the transport was in route.

Furchner had to have sent this message, the prosecution claimed.

Wolfgang Molkentin Furchner’s lawyer has stated to the court that Furchner is not ‘personally guilty’ of any crime. 

He said: ‘Irmgard Furchner does not deny the crimes of the Shoah [Holocaust].  

“She does not deny that terrible acts took place, as is once more made plain to us in the indictment. The charge that this trial revolves around, that she was guilty of a criminal act, is rejected by her. 

Prosecutors say that throughout her time at the camp, Furchner took dictation of Hoppe’s orders and handled his correspondence. 

Christoph Rueckel who represents Holocaust survivors as a lawyer, said that Furchner “handled all the correspondence” for the commander.

Rueckel stated to NDR that Rueckel typed the execution and deportation commands at his dictated instructions and then initialled them each herself. 

Furchner was initially questioned by the police about her participation in the camp, in February 2017. Officers also searched Furchner’s apartment. 

Four years and eight month were required to get the case before trial. The medical examination was necessary to assess Furchner’s fitness to stand.

The 96-year old was declared fit by a doctor in February and she was allowed to hear. 

Furchner was a teenager when the crimes were committed. Furchner is currently being tried in juvenile court.

A letter was sent by the defendant to the court before her scheduled first hearing. She stated that she didn’t want to be present in person.

Irmgard Furchner was wheeled in by guards with a shawl, face mask and large sunglasses covering her face on October 19

Guards brought Irmgard Furchner in with her covered by a large scarf, face mask, and sunglasses. It was October 19, 2009.

Christoph Heubner, Vice President of the International Auschwitz Committee said that she had shown ‘contempt for survivors as well as for the rule law’ by failing to show up for work.

Efraim Zuroff (an American-Israeli “Nazi hunter”) tweeted that he was able to say, “Healthy enough for fleeing, but healthy enough to be in jail!” He played an important role in the trial of Nazi war criminals. 

Prosecutors say she was part and parcel of the apparatus which helped the Nazi camp operate more than 75-years ago.

She claimed that she never had been to the camp and said she only heard about it after the war.

While her lawyers claim she was shielded from the true purpose of the camp by superiors and prosecutors deny that, given her position as commander’s secretary, it is difficult to believe this.

Furchner claimed that although she was aware of executions taking place at camp, she believed these were punishments for specific offenses and not mass-murder. 

Hoppe was convicted of his involvement in the camp. He was sentenced by a West German court to nine years imprisonment in 1957. In 1974, he died.

Furchner admitted working for Hoppe in evidence at that inquiry, which was nearly 70 years ago. However, she said that she did not know much about gas chambers. 

In a statement, the Itzehoe state court stated that the suspect had ‘assist and abetted the camp commander’s in their systematic execution of prisoners there from June 1943 to April 1945. She was a stenographer in the commandant’s office and a typist.  

An earlier statement by a lawyer representing the defendant to Der Spiegel magazine stated that the case would focus on the possibility that the 96 year-old knew about the horrors that occurred at Camp Gideon.

“My client was in the midst SS men experienced in violence – does this mean that she shares their knowledge?” Wolf Molkentin stated that this isn’t always obvious.

Another media report claims that the defendant testified as a witness in past Nazi trials. She said that Paul Werner Hoppe (ex-SS Commandant in Stutthof) dictated her daily radio and written letters.

The secretary worked for Nazi commandant Paul Werner Hoppe (pictured), who was convicted by a West German court in 1957 and died in 1974

The Nazis murdered around 65,000 people in Stutthof (pictured in 1946) and its subcamps, which were operational from September 2, 1939 until May, 9, 1945

Paul Werner Hoppe was the Nazi commander. The secretary, who died in 1974 after being convicted in West Germany by a court in 1957, worked as his secretary. 65,000 were murdered by the Nazis in Stutthof (pictured left) and its associated subcamps. They operated from September 2,1939, to May 9, 1945.

Furchner said that she didn’t know about the deaths at the camp during her time there. This was according to the German news agency dpa.   

Furchner fled her trial around the same time that a former Nazi concentration camps guard, aged 100, appeared in front of judges in Neuruppin.

Josef Schuetz is accused of helping in the assassination of 358 prisoners held at Sachsenhausen between 1942-1945. He told the court that he’s innocent and knows nothing about the events at Sachsenhausen.

Furchner is also among them.

Seventy-six year after World War II ended, the time has run out for people to be brought to justice. 

According to the Central Office for the Investigation of National Socialist Crimes, eight more cases are being investigated by the authorities.

In the recent past, many cases were dropped because of death or incapacity to stand trial.

Bruno Dey (ex-SS Guard) was found guilty and was given a two year suspended sentence. Dey is currently 93. 

Former Nazi guards, who were tried and convicted years later

Itzehoe was scheduled to open just one day before the 75th Anniversary of the sentence of twelve senior Nazi members to death via hanging at Nuremberg’s first trial.

This also happens a week ahead of separate Neuruppin proceedings, near Berlin against a 100 year-old ex-camp guard.

It is now 76 years since the end of World War II that time is running out to hold those responsible for the Nazi regime’s actions accountable.

According to the Central Office for the Investigation of National Socialist Crimes, eight more cases are being handled by the prosecution.

In the recent past, many cases were dropped because of death or incapacity to stand trial.

Bruno Dey was convicted of the last time. He was 93 years old and was sentenced to a suspended two-year term.

Because it is difficult to prove their involvement in the murders, it has been historically hard for former Nazis to be persecuted.

John Demjanjuk’s conviction in 2011 established a precedent that guards and personnel could be held liable for the deaths of camp residents even though it is not proven they did so.

The ruling set off a wave of new litigation and broadened the scope of targets to include camp administrators such as Furchner – who is the only woman to stand trial over Nazi-era atrocities in recent years.  

MailOnline presents a list of other people who faced justice many years after they were convicted.

John Demjanjuk

John Demjanjuk during his trial in Munich in 2009 over the murder of 27,900 Jews at a Nazi death camp following 30 years to try prosecute him after he moved to Ohio

John Demjanjuk, who was being tried in Munich for murdering 27,900 Jews at the Nazi death camps in 2009. This trial took place in 2009 after John Demjanjuk moved from Ohio.

Ukrainian-American Demjanjuk was a Nazi guard who served at the Sobibor, Majdanek, and Flossenbürg death camps between 1942 and 1945.

Originally conscripted into the Soviet Red Army, Demjanjuk was captured by the Nazis in 1942 and became a ‘Trawniki man’ – a name for eastern European Nazi collaborators recruited from prisoner-of-war camps.

Following the war, he got married to a West German lady he had met at a camp for displaced people and immigrated to Ohio.

In 1977, Israeli investigators identified Demjanjuk as ‘Ivan the Terrible’ – a guard at the Treblinka death camp notorious for his cruelty, and had him extradited in 1986 to face trial.

He was convicted in 1988 and sentenced to death, but his conviction was quashed in 1993 when Israel’s Supreme Court heard evidence that ‘Ivan’s’ true identity was another Soviet man named Ivan Marchenko.

Although the identity of Demjanjuk has not been proven conclusively, the evidence was sufficient to raise reasonable doubts and Demjanjuk was freed.

After he returned to the US in 2002, he lost his US citizenship and was expelled in 2009. In Germany in 2009, a trial was initiated against him for being involved in the assassination of some 30,000 Sobibor prisoners who had died during his stay.

Demjanjuk was used as a test case. Former Nazis were difficult to convict of the murders at death camps. It had always been hard to prove that they had directly participated in them.

But lawyers persuaded a judge that it was reasonable to convict Demjanjuk of being an accessory to murder simply by working at the camp, whether or not he was directly involved in the killing.

He was sentenced to five-years in prison and convicted of the crime. However, he was freed pending an appeal. The next year, he was killed.

The case established a legal precedent that led to a flood of lawsuits against camp guards, administrative staff and others for their participation in Nazi’s genocidal machine. 

Oskar Grening – “The Bookkeeper of Auschwitz” 

Oskar Groening, a 94-year-old former SS sergeant looking up as he listens to the verdict of his trial at a court in Lueneburg, northern Germany in 2017

Oskar Groening (94 year-old ex-SS sergeant) looks up while he hears the verdict at his 2017 trial in Lueneburg.

The former Auschwitz-Birkenau guard Oskar Groening as a young man in an SS uniform

Oskar Groening, a former Auschwitz–Birkenau guard dressed as a young man wearing an SS uniform.

Groening was born in Lower Saxony on 19-21. His father was a cloth worker and his mother was a housekeeper. Groening died at four.

Groening had military family history. Groenings grandfather was an elite regiment of troops of the Duchy of Brunswick.

Groening was raised in a conservative family and radical politics became a part of his life as a child. His father, Stahlhelm (meaning Steel Helmet) joined the far-right group Stahlhelm in response to Germany’s loss in World War I.

Groening was only an assimilated to Stahlhelm’s youth wings a few more years later in the 1930s. After the Nazis took power, Groening switched to the Hitler Youth.

Groening graduated high school with excellent marks at age 17 and started working in a bank as a clerk just a few months after the war broke out. 

Groening decided to be an elite member of the new German army and chose the Waffen SS.

Groening was accepted into the unit and spent one year there, before being sent to Berlin to perform a special task – to help run Auschwitz’ death camp.

Upon arrival, Groening was assigned to the administrative branch – a position that would earn him his nickname as the Bookkeeper of Auschwitz. 

It was some time before he learned the camp’s true purpose and, once he found out, Groening did complain and request a transfer to a combat role.

But he did not object at all to the murder of Jews or other camp residents. He also didn’t object to any methods used. Once his transfer request was refused, he enjoyed a relaxed life enjoying the extra guards’ rations and getting drunk with fellow officers.

Groening was at the camp between 1942 and 1944, when he received his wish. He was then sent to the Battle of the Bulge.

After being captured by the British, in 1945, he was sent to the UK to work as an agricultural labourer. He later returned to Germany to manage a glass factory.

Groening did not speak much about his Auschwitz experiences until mid 2000s when he opened up to Holocaust deniers and revealed that he was playing a part in the escape.

He was a frequent interviewee, speaking candidly about ovens, burial pits, and gas chambers.

German prosecutors charged him with being an accessory in the killing of 300,000 Auschwitz victims during 2014, and he was sentenced in July 2015 to four years imprisonment.

Groening challenged the sentence. He died in hospital on December 18, 2018, just before he began his prison term.   

Bruno Dey 

Last year 93-year-old Bruno Dey, pictured, was convicted for his part in the Holocaust after serving as an SS guard at Stutthof

Pictured: Bruno Dey (93 years old), was convicted last year for his role in the Holocaust. He served as a SS guard at Stutthof. 

Bruno Dey was a former SS Guard and was sentenced to a suspended two year sentence. He was 93 years old. 

His involvement in the assassination of 5230 victims was charged against him when he was at the Stutthof camp in Danzig.

Last year, Dey admitted that he knew about the gas chambers at Camp Gas Chambers. He also said that he saw ’emaciated bodies, people who have suffered’ but maintained that he wasn’t guilty.


Brandenburg will be bringing a different case to trial. The man, aged 100 years old, is accused of serving as a Nazi-SS guard in a concentration camp near Berlin in World War II.

This man is being charged with 3 518 counts of accessory for murder. 

As an enlisted member, the Nazi Party’s paramilitary arm, the suspect is said to have been at Sachsenhausen between 1942-1945.