A survivor of a Nazi concentration camp has described how guards killed inmates by throwing them against electric fences or setting dogs on them at the trial of a woman who denies having any role in more than 11,000 deaths, from 1943 to 1945

A survivor of a Nazi concentration camp has described how guards killed inmates by throwing them against electric fences or setting dogs on them at the trial of a woman who denies having any role in more than 11,000 deaths, from 1943 to 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 the 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

Asia Shindelman (pictured), who was born in Lithuania in 1928 and now lives in the US, described the horrors she witnessed at Stutthof camp in Nazi-occupied Danzig, now in Poland

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

She worked in an office outside the main Stutthof camp, and claims she had no knowledge of the mass-murder being carried out inside. 

Furchner was formally charged on 26th January this year.In September, she was arrested after fleeing her nursing home as the trial was about to begin.

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 , according to German news website .

She lived ‘among loving, caring people,’ the 93-year-old told the court through an interpreter from her home in New Jersey. Her family spoke Yiddish , and her father owned a beauty salon in town.

But that all changed with the Nazi occupation. ‘We Jews were no longer allowed to walk on the sidewalk, only on the street where the cars were driving, she said.

‘We had to wear stars of David on our clothes.We were forbidden to go shopping in grocery stores, we had to hand forever aloe c9 in radios and telephones.

‘And then the killing started,’ she said to the camera. 

Irmgard Furchner (left and right, in 1944) was just 18 when she started work at the camp on the Baltic coast, and is the first woman to stand trial in decades over crimes connected to the Third Reich.

Ms Shindelman recalled how her family were taken to a ghetto in August 1941.Three families had to live in a single room, and many died of hunger, cold and disease. 

One person smuggled a pack of cigarettes into the ghetto and was hanged in public, she told the court, as an example to the other prisoners.

Then, on July 25, 1944, Ms Shindelman was taken to the Stutthof concentration camp near Danzig.Along with her parents and two brothers, an uncle and her grandmother, she was taken in cattle wagons on the journey that lasted four days.

They were given no food or water, in sweltering temperatures.

When they arrived, she said Nazi officers were shouting at them: ‘Faster, get out, you cursed Jews,’ and a sign read ‘Waldlager Stutthof.’

They were herded by officers to tables and registered, each person being given a number.She could still remember her number, she said. 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.She and her mother slept on the floor.

‘The guards were allowed to do whatever they wanted to us: They threw people against the electric fence, they were killed instantly. Others threw them to dogs to eat or shot them directly,’ she told the court. 

‘The Germans could kill us too,’ she said, recalling how every day the prisoners would have to line up like soldiers for hours.Anyone who fell over would be killed.

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.The judge intervened and told her to listen.

Furchner’s defence attorney Wolf Molkentin said that while the horrors of the camp and the actions of the Nazis were well documented, the court had yet to hear any evidence that would lead to his client’s conviction.

So far, he said, there is nothing to suggest a secretary or typist would have had anything to do with the murders at the camp. 

The case against Furchner is relying on German legal precedent established in cases over the past decade that anyone who helped Nazi death camps and concentration camps function can be prosecuted as an accessory to the murders committed there, even without evidence of participation in a specific crime. 

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

Stutthof, which was located near the Polish city of Gdansk, was the first death camp to be built outside Germany and was constructed in 1939.

Over the six years it operated – until it was liberated by the Allies in May 1945 – it is thought some 110,000 people were sent there, of which up to 65,000 died.

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

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

Originally built to house Polish intelligence officers and intellectuals, the camp later expanded to include significant numbers of Jews – many of whom were transferred there from Auschwitz or camps in the Baltics – and Soviet prisoners.

The camp had gas chambers where many of the inmates were put to death, but tens of thousands also died due to starvation, disease epidemics, overwork and forced ‘death marches’.Of those who died, around 28,000 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.

83-year-old Mr Salomonovic – newspaper reported.