Fischer, Franz, “Judenfischer” (Jew fisherman).

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Fischer, Franz, born 10-12-1901, in Bigge, Olsberg, Empire, the eldest of a Catholic family of five children. From an early age he felt very attracted to the Roman Catholic Church and initially wanted to follow a brother and a sister of his mother into the monastery. He said he loved solitude. In high school, however, he abandoned his desire to enter the monastery and enlisted in military service. After completing nine months of military service, he found work in a tax office, which he did not like. He then decided to go to the police academy. In 1922/23 he was appointed to the Kriminalpolizei in Bochum and in 1937 to the Gestapo in Düsseldorf.

In 1933 he became a member of the NSDAP, but he said he was not politically interested. In 1934 he married. The marriage remained childless. On May 28-05-1940 he was posted to the Aussenstelle der Sicherheitspolizei und SD in Utrecht, where he would remain employed for several months. In November 1940 he was transferred to Referat IV-B4 in The Hague. This office, located in the Windekind complex at Nieuwe Parklaan 72, 74 and 76, was involved in the deportation of Jews and the search for Jewish people in hiding. His direct superior was Regierungsrat Willy Zöpf, but he left the day-to-day management to Fischer. Eventually some 13,000 Jews would be deported from The Hague by Fischer; of which about 12,000 were murdered, mainly in concentration and extermination camps. He was also responsible for ill-treatment of Jews, ‘Jew patrons’ and persons who were married to Jewish women. He not only let others mistreat them, but also hit and kicked himself, according to several witnesses. His fanatical hunting of Jews soon earned him the nickname “Judenfischer” (Jew fisherman). His specialty was the ‘U-boat Spiel’, in which the victims were submerged in a bathtub for a long time to extract confessions or intelligence.

Benedictus Hijmans, a half-Jew, committed a failed attack on Fischer on 11-01-1943 in The Hague. Because his father had been arrested, Hijmans lodged a personal protest with Fischer. After the fruitless conversation, Hijmans took a gun from the wall and tried to shoot at Fischer. However, the weapon was not loaded. A week later, the SS and Polizeigericht sentenced Hijmans to death and he was shot.

After the war, Fischer was taken to Germany by the Canadian army, where he stayed in various camps. On 28-08-1946, the Netherlands requested Fischer’s extradition. In November that year he was transferred and imprisoned in the cell barracks of Scheveningen. Fischer was sentenced to life imprisonment by the Special Court in The Hague on 17-03-1949. The court stated that he did not receive the death penalty as follows:… that the accused has participated in one of the most heinous acts committed by Germany against the people of the occupied countries, which acts in themselves would justify the imposition of the death penalty, were it not for the obligation of the judge, before imposing it, to see possible personal circumstances concerning the suspect, which could lead to a different judgment; that this suspect, right from the research of the psychologist Dr. Ph. M. van der Heyden, about whom he gave his statements at the hearing, shows special psychological aspects, in which a thirst for power, a strong urge to assert himself and a general lack of sense of guilt are the most important, which is moreover apparent from the defendant’s statements to his victims and others show a pronounced anti-Semitism, which is not surprising in a German, who for years has been incited by his Government in the most systematic and sophisticated manner by propaganda against the Jews, as is well known, that thereby the mentality of this suspect, who at the hearing has shown that he still has no awareness of the great guilt he has taken on himself, has been completely poisoned by the environment in which he lived and worked and the Court assumes, his psychological condition for the seed of anti-Semitism has been a favorable development ground, while the accused is not d he has reached spiritual development that he has been able to escape this pernicious influence; that the Court therefore considers there are grounds not to impose a death penalty, but to suffice with a lifelong removal of this suspect from society, whereby the Court notes that, if a Dutchman would have committed similar crimes against his own compatriots, the death penalty would be her place would have been; that this punishment is in accordance with the seriousness of the crimes committed and the circumstances under which they were committed; partly in view of the person and personal circumstances of the suspect.

However, the Special Council of Cassation sentenced him to death on 12-07-1950. The council justified its decision as follows:

Considering now with regard to the sentence imposed, against which both the Attorney-General Fiscal and the appellant Fischer are contesting; that, as regards the assessment of the seriousness of the proven crimes, the Council entirely agrees with the judgment of the Court and considers that those crimes are so serious that they certainly warrant the death penalty, especially in the light of the appellant Fischer’s detailed description by the Court motivated acquaintance with and approval of his Government’s policy of extermination against the Jews; The only question, therefore, is whether the considerations which led the Court to nevertheless refrain from imposing the most severe penalty are sound. that these considerations now relate to certain particular psychological aspects which, according to a psychological examination, the applicant would exhibit, viz. a stronger assertiveness and a general lack of sense of guilt, and furthermore to his outspoken anti-Semitism; In the Council’s opinion, this last trait in the applicant’s personality certainly cannot serve to relieve him, whatever reasoning may be attached to it in the said psychological report. that strong assertiveness and complete lack of sense of guilt among German war criminals are also so common phenomena that the Council cannot attribute any personal exculpatory effect to the applicant Fischer either; that therefore the Council, unlike the Court, does not find in these psychological considerations with the Prosecutor Fiscal sufficient grounds to refrain from imposing the most severe punishment; that the appellant Fischer’s appeal to his subordinate position is of no avail to him either, but on the contrary the Council holds it against him severely, that by his own actions he has managed to turn a low official position into a de facto central function in the implementation of the German policy of destruction of the Jewish part of the Dutch people; The Council therefore considers the appeal of the Public Procurator Fiscal to be well founded and is of the opinion that the appellant Fischer’s appeal should be dismissed.However, this judgment was never carried out because Queen Juliana had great conscientious objection to the death penalty. Fischer finally got it

Fischer was detained simultaneously with the German war criminals SS-Oberscharführer Joseph Kotalla and SS-Hauptsturmführer Ferdinand “Ferdy” aus der Fünten from the prison of Norgerhaven in Veenhuizen on 07-11-1952 in the Breda dome prison, where from 24-02-1955 the German war criminal SS-Sturmbannführer Willy Paul Franz Lages was also imprisoned. Together they went down in history as the Four of Breda. After Lages’ release in 1966, the remaining ones continued as the Three of Breda and after Kotalla’s death as the Two of Breda.

In Breda’s dome prison, Fischer spent his days cleaning the prison. He had free access to the boardroom because of his work, even when no one was inside. He remained active with cleaning work until old age. He had his own workshop containing an old vacuum cleaner, mops, buckets and worn-out textiles that he used as a cleaning cloth. When he was no longer able to work for health reasons, he continued to clean his cell – he mopped his cell floor at least three times a day – and sometimes he was still cleaning outside his cell. Despite his passion, he was not a good polisher. For example, he regularly blew his nose into his cleaning cloth and then wiped a desk with the cloth. On his own initiative he kept the fish pond in the prison yard clean. Weekly he refreshed all the water and gave the goldfish swimming in the water their daily fish food that was handed to him by the keepers. He also helped to keep the air space free of weeds without being asked. Fischer suffered from nightmares during his imprisonment; he then dreamed that he was being chased by a large group of Jews, who beat him up. He would call for help in his sleep and wake up drenched in sweat.

The West German government pushed for his release from the 1960s. His imprisonment was the subject of discussion in every bilateral contact between the Netherlands and the Federal Republic of Germany. The West German government supported Fischer legally and financially. In the 1970s he received a monthly allowance of 40 to 50 DM from the West German government.

Death and burial ground of Fischer, Franz, “Judenfischer” (Jew fisherman).

Fischer, together with Aus der Fünten, was released on 27-01-1989 at the instigation of Minister of Justice Frits Korthals Altes. Fischer went to live with his wife, to whom he was still married and was 88 years old when he was released. Fischer died that same year on 19-1989, age 87 of pneumonia in the Sankt Josef Hospital in Bigge, a sub-municipality of Olsberg, and was buried there on 25-09-1989.

Aus der Fünten had already passed away on 19-04-1989, age 79. Joseph Kotaslla, nicknamed Executioner of Amersfoort, died in the Breda prison on 31-07-1979, age 71 SS-Sturmbannführer, and Willy Paul Franz Lages was admitted to the Central Hospital of the Prison System in Vught on 18-0-5-1966 due to serious illness. A heart condition was diagnosed, after which serious complications arose. Justice Minister Ivo Samkalden granted him a suspension of ‘maximum three months’ on humanitarian grounds. On 09-0-6-1966 he was taken by ambulance to the Federal Republic of Germany in the expectation that he would die during that period. This led to great outrage from many in the Netherlands. The Dutch doctors suspected that Lages had colon cancer, but had not dared to operate on him. He underwent surgery in Germany. During the operation it turned out that he did not have colon cancer, but an intestinal blockage (which, if Lages had not been operated on, would also have been fatal). In November 1966 Lages left the hospital. Because he could not be extradited under the German constitution, he was a free man as long as he refrained from traveling outside Germany. He settled in the spa town of Braunlage, where he moved into the villa of Rudolf Ehrhart, a well-known Nazi during the war. Ehrhart was a Waffen SS member in 1944 and worked as a member of Heinrich Himmler‘s staff  He lived almost five more years. In April 1971 he died of a brain tumor at the age of 69.

At his death, Franz Fischer, the “Judenfischer” (Jew fisherman), left hundreds of thousands of D-marks, money that he had received from sympathizers. Fischer is buried in his hometown at the cemetery of Bigge, Olsberg.

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