The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 42
(Part 1 of 6)

Session No. 42

1 Sivan 5721 (16 May 1961)

Presiding Judge: I declare the forty-second Session of the trial open. We will continue with the interrogation of the witness Dr. Grueber by Dr. Servatius. Dr. Grueber, you are continuing to testify under oath.

Dr. Servatius: Witness, you had stated that you presented a special petition for the authorization of your relief organization to Eichmann, amongst others, and you went on to say that this seemed necessary to you because the Confessional Church had strayed from the right path, as I understood you to say, and that it had supported National Socialism.

Presiding Judge: The Confessional Church or the Evangelical Church?

Dr. Servatius: The Confessional Church strayed, as I understood him.

Witness Grueber: I am very sorry to have been misunderstood. I did not speak about a Confessional Church which strayed from the right path, but said that the official Evangelical Church was under the influence of the National Socialists, they were called German Christians. The leader of this church was one Reich Bishop Mueller, by the grace of Hitler. Against this, the Confessional Church united, being opposed to Hitler and his regime. I belonged to it, and not only was it not straying from the right path, but I believe that we kept to the right path till the end.

Q. Then this is my mistake; I assumed that the Confessional Church had separated from the Evangelical Church. It is the other way round.

A. It cut loose from the official church because it did not go along with all the things customary in the official church, the Aryan legislation (Arierparagraph), the oath of allegiance to Hitler for civil servants, and other such things.

Q. Was the Evangelical Church the larger group, or was the Confessional Church the larger group?

A. The largest group, if I may put it thus, was the group in the middle, which was neither the one nor the other.

Q. Do you know the Berliner Evangelisches Sonntagsblatt (Berlin Evangelical Sunday Gazette)?

A. Yes.

Q. The opinions of which group did this paper express?

A. The paper was essentially attuned to all the groups, in no way did it represent the views of the Confessional Church. These were expressed in the journal Die junge Kirche (The Young Church).

Q. Did this Berliner Evangelisches Sonntagsblatt acclaim Hitler's coming into power, especially after the Enabling Act which instituted the dictatorship?

A. This was something which I, personally, and many of my friends rejected - that many papers, not only those of the church but others too, thought that for tactical reasons they had to make obeisance to the regime, in order to prevent their suppression and preserve their effectiveness towards the public. To my mind those were wrong tactics.

Q. I shall read to you two short passages from the Evangelisches Sonntagsblatt which appeared immediately after the assumption of power, after the Enabling Act. This is from the issue of 4 April 1933, and reads as follows:

"Even when as an evangelical Christian one feels ever so much the obligation not to wrong anybody, there can be no doubt that in all the dark events of the last fifteen years the Jewish element played a leading role. The last fifteen years increased the influence of Jewry in Germany immensely. The number of Jewish judges, Jewish politicians, Jewish officials in influential positions grew perceptibly. To this the voice of the people objects, a people which wants to sweep away the aftermath of the revolution."
There are two more passages, from the paper of 9 April, which I want to read to you:
"At last the government of the Reich found itself forced to organize the boycott of Jewish shops, having realized correctly that through Jewry's international connections the agitation abroad would stop very early if it proved economically dangerous to German Jewry. The result of all these proceedings will doubtless be a containment of Jewish influence in Germany's public life. Nobody will seriously be able to object to this."
And the last part:
"In this respect, the German governments since autumn 1918 have grievously sinned. They willingly accorded tens of thousands of undesirable elements that emigrated into Germany the rights of German citizenship. This has to stop. As soon as the Jewish immigration is blocked, Jewry in Germany will decline. The number of children of Jewish families is small, the process of dying out is surprisingly quick."
Would not Eichmann have been convinced that he was on the right track when he read something of this kind and experienced it himself? And did these articles not appear after the assumption of power [of Hitler] when the population held torchlight processions throughout the towns and shouted "Germany awake," but also "Judah drop dead."* {*"Deutschland erwache, Juda verrecke."}

A. I was not aware till now that the Accused got the maxims for his actions from the Evangelisches Sonntagsblatt in Berlin, especially as he did not live in Berlin. But as regards the matter itself, I can say that I neither wrote the article, nor did I approve of it. On the contrary, on 20 March, I was then the headmaster of a large educational institution, teachers and tutors came to me, wanting to have the 21st of March off for this well-known Potsdam thing. So I told them: "You do not get a holiday, because that is to my mind the biggest deception of the public of all times."

The result was that I was dismissed from my position as educational director, was unemployed for seven months, applied for all available professional positions, and I only went to Berlin-Karlsdorf, to a professional position, after seven months. I did not approve of that, and do not approve of it, and told the authors that it is not enough to make general confessions, but that one must confess one's guilt in a concrete manner. The politician must say: I approved the Enabling Act and became culpable; the theologian must say: I did not recognize the demonic spirit here and became culpable. There must be no general confessions of guilt in Germany, but concrete ones.

Q. Witness, I agree completely with your views. Let there be no mistake, I am not reproaching you, on the contrary, I share your views. But I did not ask you that but asked whether these articles must not influence a person so that he believes that he is on the right path. You said that he would not have read the Evangelisches Sonntagsblatt; may I therefore read you an article from a popular, widely-read general newspaper. It is the newspaper Der Tag (The Day) of 2 April 1933. It is a newspaper with a large circulation. May I read it out:

"There is just as little need for a special declaration of allegiance to the great national aims which have now been raised up again before the German people. The Evangelical Church has always declared its support for these aims with clear and resolute words - in prewar days, in the dark days of the revolution, and under the rule of the Weimar parties. There can be no doubt concerning the attitude of the church and of its leadership towards the national state."
This was written here with the knowledge of the attitude of the National Socialist government to the Jewish Question. Are you aware that such an article appeared - probably in several newspapers?

A. I admit that many people in the Evangelical Church were at first struck with blindness. But I must also say that for me it is a far cry from those who in the [general] enthusiasm called out "Heil Hitler" to what we in this room have met with and heard. To my mind, that is such a long distance that it cannot be abolished by a simple sentence. There are here, after all, two worlds. There are enough people...I helped many a National-Socialist afterwards, if he sincerely admitted his sins. Whether one shouts "hurrah" or "Heil Hitler" in the first enthusiasm, or whether one sets out on this demonic path, for me these are two different things. May I add, in defence, that we Evangelical Christians are like all Germans faced by a difficult situation, in that we are all people who look up to authority. We are subjects rather than citizens. Especially in the Evangelical Church this authoritarian idea was very strongly held, because formerly an alliance between state and church, to my mind a disadvantageous one, had been entered into. And thus you must understand that, owing to this attitude, many an Evangelical Christian gave vent to this enthusiasm in the beginning, and only later on he understood what was happening. Most people had their eyes opened in November 1938, and I may add that shortly after the November pogrom, when Goebbels said that this is the spontaneous will of the German nation, I said in two large meetings: I declare herewith solemnly and publicly that I do not want to have anything to do with this German nation. I therefore ask that these common national notes sounded in those days be not regarded as the promise for what has been heard here during the last few days.

Presiding Judge: Dr. Servatius and witness: I believe that we are straying a little from the subject. I do not want to determine at this moment who is responsible for it, Dr. Servatius or the witness. At any rate, I should not wish the interrogation of the witness to develop into a general discussion of the relationship between the church and National Socialism.

Dr. Servatius: The purport of my question was not the views of the witness, but the views of the church. Because it could have influenced the outlook of the Accused, could even have had considerable influence. I have another question: Do you know the book by W. Poliakoff-Wolff, Die Denker des Dritten Reichs (The Thinkers of the Third Reich)?

Witness Grueber: I believe I once leafed through it, but I did not read it, study it.

Q. Even without closer study you will be aware that in this book a number of scholars, philosophers and professors are enumerated, that is to say members of the liberal professions who were all persuaded that whatever Hitler did was the best thing in the circumstances. Do you remember the book? The book is called Das dritte Reich und seine Denker. Perhaps you know it by its title.

Presiding Judge: He told you that he has seen the book, that he glanced through it.

Witness Grueber: No, I do not remember it. I may have read it.

Dr. Servatius: Are you aware then that such professors and scholars made public appearances in Hitler's favour?

Witness Grueber: I know very precisely that very many men on whom one confers the title of "scholar" were taken in by these things. But I do not know whether these people approved of all the things that took place in the Third Reich. I could imagine that later, after they became acquainted with them, they may have revised their opinion somewhat.

Q. Do you believe that someone who did not have this academic education or this political experience, a smaller man, could also have been taken in by Hitler?

A. You will excuse me when I say to you that in this case I do not set much store by an academic education. What matters here is a very healthy instinct, and this healthy instinct I found much more frequently in the Third Reich in simple people rather than in so-called scholars and the well- educated.

Dr. Servatius: I have no more questions to the witness.

Presiding Judge: Mr. Bar-Or, do you have any further questions?

State Attorney Bar-Or: No, Your Honour.

Judge Raveh: Dr. Grueber, you told us that there were 700 clergymen in the Dachau camp. Do you know when the arrests of Christians began in Germany?

Witness Grueber: I do not know when the first clergymen were arrested. I was first threatened with arrest after this statement of mine in January. Only by leaving my residence temporarily did I escape arrest. I know that after his trial, my friend Niemoeller was taken to a concentration camp. It is beyond my knowledge when the first committals took place. Most of them were committed after the outbreak of war.

Q. This is exactly the point which interests me. Was the arrest of clergymen an operation over a limited period, or did it take place continuously and the committals were in individual cases?

A. There were single committals, and there were also mass committals. It happened, for instance, that in particular districts all the clergymen were arrested and transported, for example from the so-called Warthegau, as it was then called. All clergymen were arrested then and sent to Dachau. However, many younger people escaped arrest by fleeing. There was a list of clergymen. As many clergymen as were on that list had to be sent to the concentration camp. There was also an old age home for clergymen with perhaps sixty to seventy very old and frail clergymen. These were then also arrested to make up the required number. In two or three days these poor people - excuse the expression - passed out, as we used to say, died. Those were mass arrests which also took place in the Netherlands, for example, where the church, which had learned somewhat more than our German church, stood up for the Jews in a body.

Q. Do you remember, Dr. Grueber, the date - not exactly, perhaps approximately - when such mass arrests of clergymen took place?

A. The first committal, the first large transport from Wartheland, took place at the start of the period of cold weather, it must have been roundabout November. In November 1941, there was such a large-scale action, but it could have been at the beginning of December or the end of October, too. I only know the following: The gentlemen all arrived in big fur coats, as is the custom in Poland, they were well dressed. The following day they stood on the parade ground, all these old men, like all of us in thin drill trousers and thin drill shirts, and then they dropped like flies.

Q. And later on, do you not remember anything?

A. Yes, mass arrests took place again and again, clergymen from Yugoslavia, Austria, etc. But one does not remember much of the individual transports, because the arrival of new prisoners was not something which stuck especially in one's memory.

Q. We heard that you went to Switzerland in connection with the emigration of Jews. Do you remember in which year you went there?

A. I was in Switzerland very often. I could easily ascertain the dates from my old passport. Only once was I there with special permission, that was in March 1940, after the outbreak of war, because I had applied for permission to travel to Switzerland. At that time, America was not yet at war, we planned a large project with the Quakers, the Society of Friends, and I wanted to keep friends in Switzerland, who were going to America, abreast of these developments. I also reported on them to Oberfuehrer Mueller who handed me the passport.

Q. Do you remember whether this was your last journey to Switzerland?

A. Yes, that was my last journey.

Q. You told us about a gentleman who provided help, and whose name you do not want to mention because he is still alive. His name does not interest me very much, but it is not clear why you do not want to disclose his name.

A. Your Honour, we have here not only judges and prosecutors, but also a large number of journalists, and I do not want that tomorrow, or the day after, the name of a man will appear in the headlines, a man who now has a very tranquil, not tranquil post, but a very responsible post. May I explain briefly: He was transferred from Berlin to Warsaw. I do not know whether one suspected that he conspired with us. After the capture of Warsaw he was, like all the people of the Gestapo, collectively arrested and convicted. I learned of his arrest from the Russian- Orthodox bishop whom he had also helped. And then I sent a petition to the president through the Polish ambassador whom I knew in the concentration camp, and who was a friend of mine. I described all the events, and as a result he was released, and the Berlin Senate had no hesitation about employing him, especially as he gave very decisive help to a member of the Senate who is still serving.

Q. If that is so, I must tell you that it was a misunderstanding on my part. I understood from your words that you generally hesitate to disclose names of people perhaps still living. But if it concerns a single case, I would not have asked. Thank you very much.

Judge Halevi: Dr. Grueber, we believe that you risked your life to rescue Jews. Is that not considered an honour today, that one risked oneself to rescue people, is it not considered an honour today to publish the name of a man who championed the rescue of Jews?

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