- The Holocaust
image source, EPAimage caption, As the court waited for the trial to start, the judge said the defendant was now a fugitive
Irmgard Furchner, 96, was due to stand trial in northern Germany on Thursday for complicity in 11,000 murders on Thursday morning, but the judge instead issued a warrant for her arrest.
A former secretary at the Stutthof Nazi concentration camp, she was due to appear at a juvenile court in Itzehoe.
However, she disappeared from her nursing home a half-hour drive to the south in Quickborn.
"She took a taxi," said court spokeswoman Frederike Milhoffer.
The defendant is then thought to have taken an underground train to a station on the outskirts of Hamburg.
Judge Dominik Gross said she was now a fugitive and a group representing Nazi survivors and relatives of the dead expressed outrage that she had been able to escape. "It shows incredible contempt for the rule of law and survivors," said the International Auschwitz Committee.
image source, EPAimage caption, Not all of the Stutthof camp remains and the site is now a memorial
The case is seen as unprecedented as Irmgard Furchner was a civilian worker at Stutthof.
- Holocaust guard found unfit to stand trial at 96
Irmgard Furchner had worked as a typist in the office of Stutthof camp commandant Paul-Werner Hoppe, near the modern-day Polish city of Gdansk, which was then occupied by Nazi Germany and known as Danzig.
For two years before the end of the war in 1945, she was said to have known key details of what went on at the concentration camp.
During a 1954 trial she revealed how Hoppe had dictated messages to her but claimed she knew nothing of the Nazi murders at Stutthof.
Some 100,000 people were held at Stutthof, which was notorious for atrocious conditions and 65,000 are estimated to have died.
Stutthof had gas chambers, and people were killed at the camp by gassing, shooting and lethal injection as well as death and starvation. More lost their lives on death marches from the camp as World War Two neared its end.
Those killed at Stutthof include many Jews as well as non-Jewish Poles and captured Soviet soldiers.
Thursday's case marks one of the last ever Nazi trials, largely because few defendants are still alive. The trial is taking place in a juvenile court as the defendant was under the adult age at the time.
In March, a former Stutthof camp guard was declared unfit to stand trial, while last year another camp guard, Bruno Dey, was found guilty of complicity in the murder of more than 5,000 prisoners. He was given a suspended jail term.
media caption, Holocaust survivors: The families who weren’t meant to live