The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 42
(Part 2 of 6)

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 now.

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 time.

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 fanaticism?

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 Reichssicherheitshauptamt)?

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 do.

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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