'It was HELL': Holocaust survivor, 93, reveals how prisoners at Nazi concentration camp descended into CANNIBALISM to stay alive
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ITZEHOE, SCHLESWIG-HOLSTEIN: A holocaust survivor has claimed starving prisoners at a Nazi concentration camp ate the body parts of dead inmates to stay alive. Prisoners often butchered corpses for their livers, a German court was told. The shocking claims came during the ongoing trial of 97-year-old Irmgard Furchner, a former secretary at the Stutthof concentration camp during World War II. Furchner allegedly assisted in the deaths of 11,000 victims during her time at the SS-run camp.
On August 30, 93-year-old survivor Risa Silbert told the trial that starving prisoners frequently turned to cannibalism. "Stutthof was hell," Risa told the Itzehoe district court in Schleswig-Holstein state via video link from Australia. "We had cannibalism in the camp. People were hungry and they cut up the corpses and they wanted to take out the liver." "It was every day," added Silbert, who was born to a Jewish family in Klaipeda, a port city in Lithuania, in 1929.
Silbert revealed that her father and brother were murdered by German collaborators in Kaunas in 1941. She, along with her mother and sister, was put in a ghetto before being taken to Stutthof in August 1944. Silbert recalled how the prisoners had to report at 4 am or 5 am, and how SS guards would brutally whip those who could not stand still. "None of us were addressed by that name. We were just called bastards," she told the court.
Silbert, then 15, and her older sister would hide from the SS guards under corpses. At the time, dead bodies were everywhere in the camp due to a typhoid epidemic. She told the court how prisoners would often disappear from the camp, and would never be seen again.
Silbert's mother died of typhus in January 1945. In mid-April of the same year, the prisoners were taken to Danzig, and then across the Baltic Sea to Holstein in barges. This was when Germany was in retreat. On May 3, in the town of Neustadt, they were finally freed by British soldiers. She claimed she still has scars from being mercilessly beaten in the camp.
Furchner is accused of aiding in the murder of more than 11,000 prisoners at the camp. She worked there from June 1943 to April 1945. Furchner claimed that although she worked in the camp's command block, she was unaware of the mass killings. However, during the trial, it was revealed that her husband, who was a Nazi SS soldier during World War II, had testified in 1954 that he knew that people had been gassed at the concentration camp.
In her defense, Furchner maintained she knew nothing of the camp's murderous regime. She was secretary to the camp commander and reported directly to the SS. Furchner was supposed to appear at the Itzehoe Regional Court in September 2021, but she reportedly went on the run and the trial had to be suspended.
In a letter written in the past, Furchner claimed she was not fit to stand trial. "Due to my age and physical limitations, I will not attend the court dates and ask the defense attorney to represent me. I would like to spare myself these embarrassments and not make myself the mockery of humanity." She escaped by leaving her retirement home in Quickborn, Hamburg, taking a taxi, and disappearing. However, she was arrested just hours later.