Germany’s public prosecutor on Friday indicted a woman identified only as Irmgard F in keeping with the country’s privacy laws, on 10,000 counts of being an accessory to murder and attempted murder. The woman served as a secretary in the Stutthof concentration camp, 21 miles east of the city of Danzig (Gdansk) in Poland.
The woman will be tried for her crimes in juvenile court because she was under age 21 at the time of the alleged murders and attempted murders. She worked in the camp from June of 1943 to April of 1945 as a secretary for the camp commander Paul Werner Hoppe.
Stutthof was the first German concentration camp set up outside Germany in World War 2, one day after the Sept. 1, 1939 invasion of Poland. It is believed that as many as 65,000 Stutthof inmates died from starvation, epidemics, harsh labor conditions, brutal treatment, and denial of medical attention. About 28,000 of the inmates who died there were Jews.
The woman is accused of “having assisted those responsible at the camp in the systematic killing of Jewish prisoners, Polish partisans and Soviet Russian prisoners of war,” the prosecution said in a statement. She was charged with “aiding and abetting murder in more than 10,000 cases” and being complicit in attempted murders at the camp.
According to the local newspaper Hamburger Abendblatt, the woman lives north of the city of Hamburg.
In 1954, the former secretary testified against her boss at his trial and said that he dictated letters to her every day. She also said that she handled all the correspondence with the Inspektion der Konzentrationslager, the SS department in charge of running German concentration camps. At the time, she claimed not to have known about the mass killings at Stuffhof until after the war. She told a reporter at the time that her office window faced away from the campgrounds.
SS-Obersturmbannführer (lieutenant colonel) Hoppe suffered a severe leg wound in the spring of 1942, in fighting the Red Army. He was sent to Auschwitz as head of a guard detachment in July 1942. He was recommended for the position of camp commandant of Stutthof by SS-Gruppenführer Richard Glücks, Inspector of Concentration Camps. His promotion to SS-Sturmbannführer and Commandant of Stutthof were approved and he arrived at Stutthof in September 1942 to take up his new position.
Hoppe was captured by the British in April 1946 and was sent to a POW camp in Scotland, and in 1948 was moved to an internment camp in the British occupation zone in West Germany. He escaped from the British camp to Switzerland where he lived under a false identity for three years before going back to West Germany, where he was arrested in April 1953. He was tried and convicted as an accessory to murder, and in 1957 was sentenced to nine years and was released in 1966. As we noted, his secretary was instrumental in his conviction.