On This Day – German War Criminals Freed in Holland


On this day in 1989, the German war criminals Ferdinand aus der Funten and Franz Fischer were released from prison in the Netherlands and deported to Germany after spending 39 years in prison. Two other war criminals, Willy Lages and Joseph Johann Kotalla were also imprisoned with them but Lages was released in 1966 after suffering a serious illness, while Kotalla died in prison.

Funten was an SS captain and head of the Central Office for Jewish Emigration in Amsterdam during the Second World War, making him responsible for the deportation of Jews from the Netherlands to concentration camps. Among those deported were sick and insane Jews from Amsterdam and Apeldoorn. For Jews who had married non-Jews, he threatened them with deportation in order to force their sterilisation. Shortly after his release from prison, he died on April 19.

Franz Fischer was involved in the deportation of Jews and detection of Jewish people. His specialty was the U-Boat spiel in which victims were kept in a bathtub and spent prolonged amounts of time underwater, to extract confessions. Due to his fanatical pursuit of Jews, he obtained the nickname Jude Fischer, or Jews Fisherman. After his release from prison, Fischer also died in the same year, on September 19.