AMSTERDAM (Feb. 29)
The Dutch Parliament opened debate today on the government’s plan to release the last three Nazi war criminals still serving time in Breda prison. Sixteen speakers are on the roster and since the time limit on speeches was lifted, the debate is expected to last well into the night and possibly resume tomorrow before a vote is taken.
Meanwhile Jewish demonstrators massed in the Parliament Square this afternoon in a last ditch effort to influence the vote on the issue which has sharply divided opinion in Holland and has brought bitter protests from Jewish groups and former anti-Nazi resistance fighters. (See Special JTA Analysis on P. 4.)
The surprising official intervention of Israel in the matter has sparked widespread resentment here. Foreign Minister Abba Eban told the Knesset in Jerusalem yesterday that in questions such as this one, “the rule of non-intervention in the internal matters of another country must be set aside.”
Yesterday, the Israeli Charges d’Affaires, Yehoshua Trigor, acting on instructions from Eban, called on the Dutch Foreign Minister to convey Israel’s “concern’; over the proposed pardons for the ex-Nazis. The Israeli intervention was widely reported on radio and television here and the concensus of opinion is that this is an internal matter and not one to be discussed by a foreign minister in a foreign Parliament.
GOVERNMENT ACCUSED OF HYPOCRISY
It was not clear how the Israeli intervention would affect the pressures being brought to bear on the government by the local Jewish community. The Dutch correspondent for an Israeli newspaper accused the government on the radio last night of “hypocrisy” and accused the cabinet ministers of “stabbing the (Nazi) victims in the back.” The Jewish weekly, Nieuw Amsterdam Israelites Weekblad, reacted by comparing the issue in Holland with the victory of Mordechai over Haman and vowed that “Jews once again will not bow.” The Purim legend also inspired the protestors in Parliament Square, many of whom shouted “Haman.” Others carried posters bearing the names of Nazi concentration camps.
Before debate was opened, the Parliament was reportedly split over whether to approve pardons for Franz Fischer, 70, Joseph Kotaella, 65, and Ferdinand Aus Den Fuenten, 73, who have now served 25 years of their life sentences. A privately conducted Gallup Poll indicated that 150 members of the lower house are opposed to pardon, 37 approve and the remaining 60 are undecided.
Strong opposition to a pardon was expressed in an interview on Dutch television last night with Gideon Hausner, the former Attorney General of Israel who prosecuted Adolf Eichmann in 1961 and Amsterdam’s Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi, Aaron Schuster. They opposed pardons on the grounds that “The Jewish people has been hurt too often already in the name of compassion.”