The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/e/eichmann.adolf/transcripts/Sessions/Session-041-03

Archive/File: people/e/eichmann.adolf/transcripts/Sessions/Session-041-03
Last-Modified: 1999/06/01

State Attorney Bar-Or:  First, I beg to submit an amendment
to the record of Session No. 38.  The amendment is due to an
error on my part, not on the part of the stenographer.
After I had submitted Prosecution document 728, which was
given the number T/676, it says in the record: "I now
continue at the end of the page: Therefore, the Reich
Ministry of Justice proposes."  Here I erred.  In the source
from which I was reading, the English "I" looked as if it
were a "J."  It must, therefore, read: "Therefore, the Reich
Ministry for the Interior proposes" - not the Ministry of

Presiding Judge: Was that at the Session dealing with
matters of citizenship and property?

State Attorney Bar-Or:  Yes.  With the Court's permission, I
should like to submit this amendment to the record.

I now call witness Heinrich Grueber.

Presiding Judge: You speak German and are a Christian?

Witness: Yes.

[The witness is sworn.]

Presiding Judge: What is your full name?

Witness: Heinrich Karl Ernst Grueber.

Presiding Judge: Address?

Witness Grueber:  Berlin-Dahlem, Im Winkel 5.

State Attorney Bar-Or:  You officiate as a dean (Probst) in
Berlin at present?

Witness Grueber:  Yes.

Q. How long have you held this position?

A. Since 1945.

Q. What was your occupation before the outbreak of the War
in 1939?

A. In 1939 I was a parson in an eastern suburb of Berlin, at

Q. Did you have any links or connections with the Reich
Representation of German Jews, and later with the Reich

A. Yes, indeed, right from the outset of my work I
established contact with the Reich Association.  This
contact became closer and more intimate after the events of
November 1938.

Q. With which members of the Reich Representation or
Association were you in constant contact?

A. First and foremost with Chief Rabbi Baeck whose
friendship I have been honoured to enjoy, Ministerialrat
(Ministerial Councillor) Dr. Otto Hirsch, and a Mr. Eppstein
- these were the three gentlemen with whom I mainly had

Q. What were the subjects you discussed in 1938 and 1939
before the War?

A. They were all matters affecting the harassment of the
Berlin Jews, not only questions of emigration, but also
matters concerning legal protection, economic assistance,
and so on.

Q. I gather you were asked to help.  How did you wish to
help the Reich Association?

A. The situation was such that the gentlemen from the Reich
Association were in an increasingly difficult position.  You
see - to be honest - as Jews they were looked on as second-
class citizens, so they did not have the opportunity or the
ability to express their opinions as openly and freely as I
could.  I would like to refer just to one instance, when I
made my first visit to Kurfuerstenstrasse 116.  I do not
remember if it was to the Accused or to his deputy,
Guenther.  At that time, I went with the three gentlemen
from the Reich Association.  There was one chair, which was
offered to me. The three gentlemen had to stand.  So I said:
If the three gentlemen are standing, I shall also stand.  So
increasingly I had, as it were, to intervene in
circumstances where the three gentlemen could not act

I am sorry - I used to intervene primarily in contacts with
all the government authorities, where my connections with
the government agencies and departments gave me better
access.  In connection with questions of food or currency
assistance or other such matters.  Just to give an example:
When, before Pesach 1940, there was a ban on importing wheat
flour from Hungary - because for some reason or other the
authorities did not want the Jews to have it - I went to see
a Ministerial Councillor in the Ministry of Food with whom I
was friendly and worked out a deal, so that the wheat flour
could be imported in time for the baking of matzos, and so
on.  In other words, I would help wherever my friends from
the Reich Association could not appear, or where they were
not likely to be able to achieve the desired results.

Q. Dr. Grueber, you mentioned three names just now.  You
referred to Rabbi Baeck, as well as a Hirsch and an
Eppstein.  Do you remember if any of these gentlemen had a

A. Yes, I remember Chief Rabbi Baeck had a Knebelbart
(twisted moustache).  The others were clean-shaven.  Hirsch
had a small moustache for a while.  But Chief Rabbi Baeck
had a Knebelbart.

State Attorney Bar-Or: [to the Presiding Judge] I would ask
for the word Knebelbart to be inserted in the record in the
original German.  In the Accused's deposition, which I shall
come to after the testimony, he speaks of a Knebelbart, but
apparently he confused the witness with Rabbi Baeck.
Consequently the word Knebelbart is of some significance,
and should appear, perhaps in brackets.

[To the witness) You have referred to Pesach, using the
Hebrew term for the festival of Passover.  Are you familiar
with Jewish festivals and customs, and if so, where from?

A. I knew something of the Jewish festivals from my
theological studies.  There is one thing I can say, which is
that later on all the festivals there was particular
chicanery, so that before all the festivals we trembled with
our Jewish friends over "what will it be this time."  Since
then, not only do I have memories of the Jewish festivals,
but bitter memories, and the question for us was always who
is familiar with Jewish customs, so that it is precisely on
those days that particular chicanery was perpetrated, and
that is something which time and again caused us great
distress.  I can only say that before all the festivals my
Jewish friends would come to see me and say, "What is going
to happen again on this festival?"
Q. Dr. Grueber, do you know the Accused?

A. I know his name and I used to know him, but I would not
be able to identify him now.

Q. When do you remember seeing Adolf Eichmann for the first

A. I would crave the Court's indulgence if despite my oath I
answer in general terms, since the Court will understand
that it is twenty years ago, and one does not remember
everything perfectly.  I cannot say what the precise date
was, but it was shortly after the office was set up in the
Kurfuerstenstrasse; I did go once to the Metropol Hotel in
Vienna, if I have not got the name wrong, but I only went to
the office and spoke to a subordinate, it was about
releasing an old age home that belonged to a Swedish-Jewish
community outside Vienna.  I had no contact with the Accused
in person, I only went to the office.

Q. You did meet him in Berlin, did you not?

A. Yes.

Q. In his office at Kurfuerstenstrasse 116?

A. Yes.

Q. What were the subjects discussed when you appeared in
Adolf Eichmann's office?

A. I went there very often and raised all the questions of
importance to us.  Questions about emigration, questions
about treatment of the Jews and everything of importance - I
raised them all in the office, unless they were matters
concerning other authorities.

Q. Did you submit matters involving individuals to Eichmann,
or matters involving the whole community?

A. I raised everything which I thought should be brought up,
not only individual cases, but also in general cases.

Q. How did Adolf Eichmann behave?

A. Well, I had the impression - and I hope the Accused will
not take it badly - but quite honestly, I must say, having
come here without any hatred or feelings of revenge, the
impression I had of him was that he was a man who sat there
like a block of ice, or a block of marble, and everything
you tried to get through to him just bounced off him, and
also - and I was not the only one to think this way  - among
the Berlin Jews, including those who were trying to cope
with the terrible things that were affecting them, the name
of Eichmann had become a symbol, a sorry symbol.  It was
what we used to call the mercenary trooper (Landsknecht) -
we distinguished between soldiers and mercenaries: the
mercenary who, as he dons his uniform, doffs his conscience
and his reason, and that was the impression we had then, not
just myself, but also those I worked with, and my friends.

Q. Did you sometimes manage to achieve your purpose in going
to see Eichmann?

A. As far as I remember, either I heard a "no," or I was
told you will receive a reply, come back.  But I do not ever
remember being given a decision with a "yes," I do not
remember any such instance where I left the room with a
positive decision, normally it was a "no" or a reply to the
effect "you must wait, you will receive a reply."

Q. Mr. Grueber, do you remember whether during these
meetings or conversations the Accused ever referred to his
superior's instructions, which he had to ask for or receive?

A. As far as I remember, everything was in the first person,
i.e. I order, I say, and I cannot; whether that was an
expression for - if I can put it this way - making himself
more important, or whether he really did not only wish to
give the impression but really was entitled to decide
matters by himself, I am not aware of a single instance in
which he may have said: I have to consult a superior
authority.  I certainly do not remember any such instance.

Q. Dr. Grueber, were you perhaps also in touch with other
Gestapo offices, which were perhaps of lower rank than
Kurfuerstenstrasse 116?

A. Yes, the Gestapo Regional Headquarters at Alexanderplatz
kept me under surveillance, and I always received warnings
and suchlike through the Gestapo Regional Headquarters.  I
also had contacts with the Burgstrasse office, which was the
office responsible for Berlin, and I must say I found great
understanding there for my work.  There were two men who had
a great deal of understanding for our work: one was
Oberregierungsrat vom Rath, the father of the Legationsrat
vom Rath who was assassinated.  He was brought to Berlin
because it was believed that he would be particularly severe
against the Jews.  I know all the circumstances, and I know
that he helped us a great deal on the quiet, often trying to
tone down orders that were received.  The other one is still
alive, and so I would rather not give his name.  I would ask
the Court's permission not to have to name people who are
still living in Germany.  That will not detract from my
testimony.  He was someone who as a young student had joined
the SS, and as a result of conversations I had with him he
came to recognize that everything he had to do was criminal.
I must say that he never betrayed anything, but he very
often asked me to call on him, and then he would yell at me,
so that the people in the outer office could hear that, and
then I would find on his desk the latest regulations which I
could look at when he left the room, and in that way we were
able to avoid certain things, various warnings could be
given because of this man's help.  I can only say that it
was just in the lower echelons where I found more
understanding for our work, and also for people's distress
and suffering, far more than in the higher echelons.

Q. In which office did vom Rath work?

A. The Berlin office of the Jewish Section in Burgstrasse.
According to my information, it was subordinate to the
police headquarters, so that questions involving Berlin were
dealt with at that office.

Q. Was that possibly the Jewish Section of the Berlin
Gestapo Regional Headquarters?

A. Yes, we always classified that just as the Burgstrasse.
I assume that it was the Gestapo Regional Headquarters for
the Jewish Section, Berlin.

Q. Do you remember having a conversation with the Accused
about his place of origin, and special customs of his place
of origin?

A. In our circles gossip and rumour had it that the Accused
was from the colony of the Templars, which was how he knew
about Jewish customs and the Hebrew language.  I did  talk
to the Accused about it on one occasion, and he did not deny
it.  In other words, he either pretended not to have heard
the question or did not want to react.  In any case, he left
me believing it was true, and that is what I believed, so
that it is only now that I have heard information about his
personal affairs.

Q. When you refer to the colony of the Templars, in which
country was this colony?

A. There used to be a Templar colony here in Sarona in
Haifa, and we knew that there was strong anti-Semitism in
that colony.  And I kept trying to find an explanation for
the Accused's virulent anti-Semitism.  After all, you always
try to understand people, don't you?  Particularly if you
have constant dealings with them.  And that was what we
could not understand - there was not the slightest stirring
of emotion, except for a few cases, but just an unfathomable
hatred which we encountered.  What we could not understand,
I managed to grasp after I had been in the concentration
camp for a long time, later.  Perhaps I can explain how
things were.

It was always difficult for us to understand how someone
could become entangled in hatred and intensify his hatred
even more.  I tried to explain that to myself later.  In our
Scripture there is a verse, "To him that hath shall be
given, and from him who hath not shall be taken away."  And
once someone is in the grip of this demonic possession, it
gets stronger and stronger and holds the person more and
more tightly.  I had the same experience in the camp later.
Today I see things differently than at the time, when the
whole matter, the Accused Eichmann and all the other men
were a psychological problem for me.  It is also my opinion
that an occasional friendly mood - even friendly hours -
would not have changed this attitude.  A person cannot
always act at the peak of sadism.  I once made the point in
a newspaper - it is something the Germans understand.
"Every dissolute person has his oases of charity...everyone
has moods and hours from time to time when he may be more
genial, but that has nothing to do with his overall
behaviour, the attitude which he has adopted."  And when I
look at the developments of recent years, I can see how
these demonic powers are constantly growing and enslaving
human beings.

Q. Dr. Grueber, do you remember an event shortly after the
outbreak of the War which concerned the Jews of Stettin?

A. That was in February 1940.

Q. What can you tell the Court about your activities with
regard to these Jews?

A. That same night a courier brought me news of what had
happened.  I would like to state that I had branches in all
the major German cities, confidential agents, men and women,
who did work for me throughout the country, and so the same
night I was notified of what had happened.  I assume that
the Court is aware of those events.  As soon as I heard
that, I went to all the offices to which I had access.  I
went to the Fuehrer's Chancellery, I was at the Chancellery
of the Fuehrer's Deputy, I also tried to contact Goering,
but unsuccessfully, and then I wrote a very lengthy report
to Goering, because I had two people who passed on all my
correspondence to Goering.  They were his secretary and his
adjutant, General von der Gablenz.

Q. Were you also in touch with the Accused's office?

A. I did not approach the Accused and his office in these
matters, because it was my opinion that it was no use.  I
had the feeling that it was this office which was directing

Q. Did any of your approaches bear fruit?

A. I believe so.  I heard later that Goering had intervened
in the matter.  I tried first of all to show him that this
also affected persons who had been seriously wounded in the
First World War, and received high military decorations in
the First World War, as well as very old people, including
war widows.  And I know that two people came back.  One was
a war cripple with an outstanding decoration, and the other
was an old woman for whom we already had a visa for England.
We then tried to stay in touch with these people through the
supply of medicines, with letters, and so on.  I would like
to say that a few days later, on a Sunday, the Stettin
General sent me his adjutant and asked me to make
representations, because it was general knowledge in Germany
that I kept taking steps in such cases.  I was unable to
stop myself from saying to the gentleman that if I had been
the Stettin Commanding General, not a single carriage would
have left for Poland with Jews.  You see, what always
depressed me in those days above all was that persons who
otherwise thought it their duty to act so courageously were
conspicuously lacking in what we call the courage of one's
convictions (Zivilcourage).

I should like to say that, as a result of this action, I was
summoned to the Alexanderplatz Gestapo Regional Headquarters
and told that I had protested without authorization against
measures of the government and the party, and that this
would be the last time, they would put an end to my
machinations.  To which I replied that as long as I could
speak I would continue to speak out, and as long as I could
work I would carry on working, at which point the gentleman
said that one could also put an end to the machinations of
men of your sort.

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