Jewish leaders called for a protest Sunday in Amsterdam against the release of two elderly Nazi war criminals convicted for their part in sending Anne Frank, her family and thousands of other Dutch Jews to death camps.
The two Germans - the last surviving Nazi war criminals imprisoned since World War II - were freed Friday and repatriated to West Germany shortly after the Dutch Parliament voted during an emergency session not to interfere with a plan to release them, Dutch Premier Ruud Ludders told a news conference.Franz Fischer, 87, and Ferdinand aus der Fuenten, 80, were taken by ambulance to the Netherlands' eastern frontier and handed over to West German authorities at the border.
"I am grateful," said Aus der Fuenten's wife, Marta, from her home in Dusseldorf, West Germany. "All we want is to be left in peace."
West German President Richard von Weiszaeker applauded the Dutch decision, saying it showed "that Holland is a humane state."
Renee Sanders, who has access to Dutch national war files and spent two years researching the fate of the Frank family for an Emmy-winning documentary, said Fischer and Aus der Fuenten were directly responsible for the family's deportation to Auschwitz.
The Jewish leaders called for protests during Sunday's Auschwitz liberation memorial rally held every year in Amsterdam.
The Frank family managed to hide from the Nazi authorities in the attic of a Dutch family's home in Amsterdam from 1942 until August 1944.
The 16-year-old Anne's diary, describing vividly the period her family was forced to live cooped up in the attic, has become one of the world's most famous testimonies of Nazi persecution.
"Aus der Fuenten headed the SS Jewish Emigration Center in Amsterdam. His subordinate, Karl Sil-berbauer, was the one who led the raid on the house in which the Franks were hiding," Sanders said.
The Frank family was sent to the Westerbork deportation center, and Sanders said Aus der Fuenten and Fischer ordered the last transport of Jews to Auschwitz from Westerbork on Sept. 3, 1944. Anne Frank and her family were on that last train.
At their trial in 1949, Fischer and Aus der Fuenten were sentenced to death when they were found guilty of rounding up and deporting Jews from The Hague and Amsterdam to concentration camps. Their sentences later were commuted to life imprisonment.
Fischer, a sargeant major in the Nazi Security Service, or SS, was found responsible for deporting 13,000 Jews from The Hague. Aus der Fuenten was an SS captain in Amsterdam, where he ran a bureau that organized the roundup and deportation of the city's Jews.
Their release followed an emotional, two-day parliamentary debate in which lawmakers evoked images of Jewish children being hauled to concentration camps in cattle wagons. On Friday, the legislators voted 85 to 55 to reject a Labor Party proposal that would have prevented the pair from being released.
The emergency session was hastily convened Thursday following widespread media and public criticism of the plan to release the two men.
During the debate, arguments for and against the release crossed party lines. There were demonstrations outside both Parliament and the Breda prison, where the two were being held, by protesters opposed to releasing the two war criminals.
"I tried everything to convince them this decision was wrong. They have hurt many people," Rabbi Av-raham Soetendorp said.