The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 1999/06/01

Witness Grueber:  Yes, that would be an honour, but you must
understand that I do not like making use of it without the
consent of this man.  When such a man gets into the papers,
his experience will be as follows.  You must not think that
men like me are only honoured in Germany.  I receive so many
threatening letters, so many insulting letters, that I would
have to keep a pretty thick file if I wanted to publish
them.  Even the fact that I was coming here brought me
threatening letters and insulting letters.  I tear them up.
Because we still live in such circumstances in Germany, I
request with all my heart - I am perfectly willing to give
the Court the name afterwards - but I ask that I do not have
to do it in a large public gathering.  Especially in order
to spare the man, he has a family, and the wife suffered a
lot in the weeks and months while he was arrested.  I do not
mind insulting letters, I do not mind threatening letters, I
am used to them, but I do not want to put in this position
people to whom I am indebted.
Presiding Judge: [To the interpreter] Please tell the
witness that he is not under pressure from the Court to
divulge the name.

Judge Halevi:  Dr. Grueber, you said that there is a
difference between the natural reaction of simple people and
the reaction of professors and so-called scholars to the
persecution of the Jews.  What was the reaction of ordinary
people to the expulsion of the Jews from Germany?

Witness Grueber:  We noticed that already at the time of the
November operation.  I was a pastor in a working-class
parish in the east of Berlin.  When the pogrom started,
suddenly, I do not know how, but there was such a thing, we
called it, excuse the expression, the "Jewish mouth radio"
("Juedischer Mundfunk" - a play on words in German).  In
Berlin news spread quickly.  It got about that there is a
pastor in Karlsdorf, a parsonage where one can hide.  Then
they came to my house not only by the dozen, but almost by
the hundred.  Then I sent my children, my presbyters, my
elders, and all those available with these people to the
small cottages, to the homes of the workmen, again and again
- and not one door remained shut.  When my friend, Leo
Baeck, was in the United States for the first time, the
Americans asked him: "What would you do if you came to
Germany now?"  I have no prejudice against the American
Jews, but they were very distant from the whole thing.  Leo
Baeck said the following: "When I get to Germany, I shall
thank firstly those to whom I owe thanks, foremost the
workers in the north and east of Berlin.  Then pastors of
the Confessional Church - he mentioned names - then also
farmers and landowners, hundreds of whom hid people at the
risk of their lives."  This man, too, recognized that the
strongest will to help was to be found in the working class,
because these people did not have the inhibitions which were
often to be found among university graduates.

Q. Dr. Grueber, you mentioned Dr. Bernhard Loesener who, as
you said, worked under Staatssekretaer (State Secretary) von
Stuckart in the Ministry of the Interior.  No doubt you are
aware of the sworn testimony of Dr. Loesener at the
Nuremberg Trials where he said, amongst other things, that
detailed reports of the massacre of German Jews in Riga
became known to him in December 1941, and that because of
this he asked Staatssekretaer von Stuckart to release him
from his duties.  Do you know what the sequel was of the
Loesener affair?

A. In December 1941, I was no longer in Germany.  As far as
I know, I only met Mr. Loesener once, after the collapse in
1945, when he came to ask me for a testimonial concerning
his behaviour.  I know of this massacre in Riga, but nothing
about Loesener.  I do not know how he reacted to it, I am
not in touch with him, I do not even know where he lives

Q. You said that Loesener said: "There is no way out of here
except into the concentration camp."  Do you know perhaps
whether he was actually sent to a concentration camp?

A. No, it was like this: He told me, "If I leave this work
and give them a reason which seems unsatisfactory to my
superiors, then I may be in danger of being sent to a
concentration camp."  There were many people who had
families, one has to understand that, who did not easily
take  the path to the concentration camp.  Because it was no
easy decision at all simply to leave the family behind and
to have the children at school called children of an enemy
of the state.  Not everyone had the courage to take this
way, and I do not condemn Loeeserer for it.  I know how he
struggled with himself.

Q. Loesener stated in Nuremberg that he asked von Stuckart
to relieve him of his duties after he learned of the
massacre in Riga.  He received the following reply from von
Stuckart, word by word: "Herr Loesener, don't you know that
all this is done on the orders of the highest authority?"
He replied: "I have within me a judge who tells me what I
must do."

A. I know nothing about the interrogation of Loesener.  But
in accordance with his character, I still have it clearly
before me, I can imagine that he did in fact give this
reply.  I do not doubt that he told the truth in Nuremberg.

Q. Did Loesener have the same duties as Dr. Globke in the
Ministry of the Interior?

A. My Catholic friends and I used to associate with Dr.
Loesener because we had again and again the impression of
his being ready to act.  We had no desire to associate with
Mr. von Stuckart and Mr. Globke.  My Catholic colleagues  -
excuse my use of the word colleagues - foremost the Bishop
Hinken, the General Secretary of the Fulda Council of
Bishops, a committed and brave man and then the Bishop of
Osnabrueck who, being a Staatsrat (State Councillor) had
access to higher officials.  From my point of view, we
essentially dealt in the Ministry of the Interior almost
only with Mr. Loesener.

Q. You said that you were in touch with higher Catholic
clergymen in Germany.  Were you able to obtain real help
from the Catholic Church for the rescue of Jews?

A. We considered, planned and, as far as possible, carried
out everything jointly, with only one qualification: The two
bishops represented their church and had to look after the
concerns of the church, whereas I was more of a freelancer
and took care - if I may put it thus - of all the
assignments that came my way.  But large undertakings, such
as emigration, etc., we planned conjointly.  We also had, I
should mention this here, the support of the then Pope Pius
XII.  He also wanted to receive me in September 1939, but
the War intervened, because we had jointly, Catholics and
Protestants, a large settlement project in Brazil and needed
the Catholic Church of Brazil for it.

Did the Pope intervene in the destruction of the Jews?

A. I am not aware of any public intervention by this Pope,
but I know that he was ready to give us all the help he
could within the bounds of his possibilities.  The Pope in
question was Pius XII, who was the reigning Pope at the

Q. On your journeys to Switzerland, did you find a
willingness to let Jews immigrate to Switzerland?

A. I regret having to say that the willingness was very
small in all countries, also in Switzerland, where we had to
intervene again and again.  It was the same in all other
countries.  We tried to exhaust all possibilities, we even
had trouble later on with the transport, because the Swiss
were no more willing than all the other nations in Europe.
I can only say that after November 1938 I once told a highly
placed official, a Christian, because there were then so
many people who sought suicide or voluntary death, I told
him: "The people who now of their own free will go to their
death will be claimed from you, from me, on the Day of
Judgment."  You see, it was like this, we found so little
comprehension of these questions, particularly amongst those
holding official positions; this was true even for the
ambassadors and envoys accredited to Berlin, that we were
not only sad but very often angry and exasperated.

Q. You spoke of the lack of moral courage in Germany.  Can
you explain exactly what phenomena you have in mind, and are
you of the opinion that the courage of those who in their
hearts opposed the annihilation of the Jews could have
changed the course of events?

A. I spoke of the lack of moral courage in connection with
the high-ranking officer who sent his aide-de-camp to me and
asked me to intervene.  I can only say that one can make no
global judgments.  If among the higher echelons of officers
there had been more of what I call moral courage, many
things would have been different.  I worked from the
beginning with the men of the resistance and know how small
the circle was but also how often doubts of some sort arose
regarding the final step.

Q. Dr. Grueber, you said that as a man of religion, a
clergyman, you are, and always were, interested in the
motivation of the people who were involved, and therefore
you took notice of the character of the Accused, Eichmann.
You said that you encountered the glacial manner of a man
who is like a block of ice or marble and with a deep hatred.
You said that, at first, you could not understand such a man
at all - that is until you experienced the concentration
camp.  Is this behaviour not like the behaviour of Hitler
and his henchmen which he used as an example?

A. I should like to correct this, if I may.  I did not talk
of the Accused's abysmal or bottomless hatred, but of
rejection, a cold rejection.  This is something different
from hatred.  These things just slid off him, according to
my perception.  I believed that I was able to determine a
deeper motive, of course.  But again and again I asked
myself, not only in relation to him but also regarding
others, how something like this was possible in an age that
was preceded by humanism and what have you, from people who
also had scripture lessons and the like, if I may say so
bluntly.  You will understand that one is confronted by
these problems and that I could only cope with them after I
had my experiences with these people day in, day out.  I
should add that at first it was something of a theoretical
exercise, and only later a practical perception.

Q. Did you find that the Accused showed personal hatred of
the Jews, sharp anti-Semitism or National Socialist

A. These are hard to separate.  National Socialist
fanaticism was organically bound up with anti-Semitism, was
it not?  They went hand in hand, to my knowledge.

Presiding Judge: One more question.  Is the witness aware
that the Accused dealt also with church affairs in the

Witness Grueber:  That must have been after my time.  In
church matters we were always called to Alexanderplatz.  In
church matters I was never summoned to Kurfuerstenstrasse.
I do not know when this reorganization took place, because
in my time church matters were always dealt with by
Alexanderplatz, that is to say by the head office of the
Gestapo.  At first by one Regierungsrat (Administrative
Councillor) Chantre, of whom I can only say that in 1944 on
his deathbed he said - this may help to throw light on the
situation - he asked for a Danish clergyman and, saying that
his last hour had come, said: "My way was the wrong way.  I
ask you, Parson, write to my wife that I demand that my
children be educated in the spirit of the Confessional
Church.  I became acquainted in Berlin with three men (he
mentioned three names) who made such a deep impression on me
that I say the way of these men is the right one."  Chantre
died in 1944, he was the only one with whom I had much to

Presiding Judge: We thank you, Dr. Grueber. - Do you have
more questions to the witness?

State Attorney Bar-Or:  Your Honour, perhaps you will allow
me to ask one question, following on your Honour's,
concerning the name Jahr.  The Accused mentioned this name
in connection with "Politisierende Kirchen" (churches
engaged in politics).

Presiding Judge: All right, then.  Does witness know the
name of an official called Jahr?

Witness Grueber:  I do not remember him.  I only remember
the two brothers - from the early days, Dannecker - and
afterwards the two brothers Guenther, but the name Jahr I do
not remember.  He cannot, therefore, have interfered very
actively in my work.

State Attorney Bar-Or:  Your Honour, before the witness
leaves the stand, he asked me if he could make a statement,
to explain something.

Presiding Judge: May I know on what subject?

State Attorney Bar-Or:  He did not say.

Presiding Judge: I should like to know on what subject the
witness wishes to speak before I allow him to add something.

Witness Grueber:   I wanted to ask for permission to make a
personal statement, being, as I am, the first German to
stand before this high court, and one who found it hard to
come here.  I should only like to ask that if these words
seem perhaps excited and hard, this has to be understood as
an expression of inner agitation.  May I also ask, it is my
desire, that these proceedings also contribute not only to
clearing up the relations between Israel and Germany, but to
help humanity, humaneness.  I may say to my many friends in
Israel that on the day that I lay next to the dead bodies, I
found in the Bible a maxim, the words of Ephraim: "God let
me grow in the land of my misery."* {*"And the name of the
second called he Ephraim: For God hath caused me to be
fruitful in the land of my affliction." Genesis 41:52 (St.
James version)} This is my heart-felt entreaty to all those
who experienced new sorrows these days, and to those whose
sorrows came alive again, that they may affirm those words.
This is my entreaty also to this people as a whole, which
suffered so much, that it may experience how God lets us
grow even in the land of misery.  Some years ago, I said on
the national holiday in Berlin: "My entreaty, my endeavour
is that there will be forgiving love and forgiven sin.  Here
love which forgives, and there sin which will be forgiven,
that they will find one another before the throne of God."
It is in this spirit that I ask for my words to be
understood, even if they were often somewhat sharp.  That is
my request, and it remains my endeavour.  I ask you all to
ensure that it comes about; the Accused, too.  That we see
to it that forgiving love and forgiven sin shall meet before
the throne of God.  Thank you.

Presiding Judge: We thank you, Dr. Grueber.  This concludes
your testimony.  I thank you.

State Attorney Bar-Or:  With the Court's permission, I
should like to direct your attention to page 1636 and
following pages in the statement of the Accused.

Presiding Judge: Before we begin, Mr. Bar-Or, do you have
anything to say concerning Dr. Servatius' request that
evidence be taken from a witness in Italy?

State Attorney Bar-Or:  Yes.  I speak on behalf of the
Attorney General, who received word today that some minor
problem has arisen in the matter of Kappler.  We understand
from our Embassy in Rome that, apparently by tomorrow
afternoon at the latest, we shall hear how this problem has
been solved.  The Attorney General therefore requests
permission to inform the Court about the exact position by
Friday morning.

Presiding Judge: Thank you.

State Attorney Bar-Or:  I was going to direct the attention
of the Court to pages 1636 and following in the statement of
the Accused, where he speaks about the tasks of Sub-Section
"Politisierende Kirchen" (churches engaged in politics),
which was in the end attached to his Section, when it was
raised from Sub-Section to Section.  As I said already, he
does not identify the witness, but he gives a very, very
close description of him.  I cannot declare before the Court
that he refers to Dr. Grueber, but what is said here belongs
to the subject about which the witness gave evidence.

And one more document, our No. 1605.  This is a written
declaration by Dr. Bernhard Loesener, a man about whom I
have just now interrogated Dr. Grueber.  The declaration was
submitted to the American Military Tribunal in Trial No. 11,
in which, as I said already, one of the accused was Dr.
Stuckart, who had been the superior of Dr. Loesener.   From
an official publication of the West German Government we
know that Dr. Loesener is no longer alive.  There is no
doubt that his written declaration about the tasks of the
special department in the Ministry of the Interior, which
dealt with the problems of the Jews, is of great interest
for this trial.  It also seems to me that, from the
documents I have already submitted, it is clear that a
connection existed between the Section of the Accused,
including his representatives and the representatives of the
Ministry of the Interior on many questions concerning the
status of the Jews in Germany: The problem of their
expulsion, the loss of their citizenship, the forfeiture of
their property, as a result of their deportation to the
East.  I therefore think that this declaration, document No.
1605, should be accepted as evidence, by virtue of your
authority under Section 15.

Presiding Judge: Dr. Servatius, do you have anything to say?

Dr. Servatius:  No, I have no objection.

Presiding Judge: Decision No. 33

We admit Dr. Loesener's declaration in accordance with what
is said in our Decision No. 7.

This document is marked T/693.

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