Dutch Free Pair of Nazi War Criminals : Officers Were Imprisoned 43 Years for Sending Jews to Camps
Two war criminals imprisoned 43 years for the deaths of thousands of Dutch Jews were freed from prison today, officials said, hours after Parliament voted to pardon them and expel them to West Germany.
“They’re not only out of prison, they’re on their way to the Federal Republic where they will be handed over to the German authorities,” Netherlands Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers said of Franz Fischer, 87, and Ferdinand Aus der Fuenten, 79.
The decision to pardon the two came in the form of a rejection of a motion to keep the men in prison.
The 150-seat legislature voted 85 to 55 against the opposition Labor Party’s motion, made earlier this week. There were 10 abstentions.
In West Germany, where the men have relatives, government spokesman Ulrich Strempel said they would be welcome and there was no record of charges pending against them. “Our records indicate that they will be free men,” he said.
Several demonstrators stood outside the Dutch Parliament during the debate. “Don’t make the victims suffer further. Never release the henchmen,” read one placard.
Justice Minister Frederik Korthals Altes indicated he would have preferred it if Fischer and Aus der Fuenten had been put to death years ago, but he said detaining them any longer would violate the principle of equality under the law.
During the war, Fischer headed a local branch of the Nazi Security Service and was held responsible for the deportation to death camps of 13,000 Jews. Aus der Fuenten was an SS administrator of a body that oversaw mass roundups of Jews in the Netherlands.
Both were sentenced to death in 1950, but a year later their sentences were changed to life imprisonment.