AMSTERDAM (Sep. 25)
The last ex-Nazi to have been held in a Dutch prison died several days ago in the West German village of Bigge, southeast of Dortmund.
Franz Fischer, 87, whose release from the Dutch prison in Breda on Jan. 27 caused much debate and psychological trauma in Holland, was the last survivor of two aged Nazi war criminals who had come to be known as “The Breda Two.” They were in turn once part of a quartet of Nazis in that prison called the “Four of Breda.”
Following the release in the 1960s of one of those four and the death of another in 1979, Fischer and the only other surviving Nazi war criminal convicted in Holland, Ferdinand aus der Fucnten, remained the sole remaining war criminals imprisoned in the Netherlands.
They were released in January on what were described as humanitarian grounds because of their advanced age. Aus der Fuenten, who was 79,was found dead scarcely a month later.
Together, Fischer and Aus der Fuenten were responsible for the deportation of more than 100,000 Dutch Jews.
Fischer, a Gestapo official nicknamed “Judenfischer,” headed the “Judenreferat” (Committee for the Jews) in The Hague from 1942 to 1945, registering and deporting 13,000 Jews from that city.
Aus der Fuenten, a captain in the SS, was deputy director of the office responsible for the deportation of all Dutch Jews to death camps.
Their release was vigorously protested inside and outside Holland.
The two men, convicted in 1949, were among 154 German and Dutch Nazis and collaborators found guilty of war crimes and sentenced to death in Holland in the post-war years.
Fischer, at his trial, denied having known that he deported Jews who would be murdered, but the court rejected his claim.
Of the other 152 convicted Nazis in the Netherlands, 40 were executed and the rest had their sentences commuted to life In 106 of those cases, the sentences were reduced to a maximum of 20 years, Of that group, none served more than 15 years.
By the 1960s, only four remained in Dutch prisons, including Fischer and Aus der Fuenten. One, Willy Lages, was freed in 1966 because he was believed to be dying. Another, Joseph Kotaella, died in prison in 1979,
Although the Dutch justice minister in 1972 supported the release of Fischer and Aus der Fuenten, the idea was rejected in closed hearings.
When the parliamentary debate on the men’s fate was reopened 16 years later, it was broadcast live in its entirety on Dutch television, prompting demonstrations by Jews and former resistance fighters.