The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 41
(Part 5 of 5)

Q. Dr. Grueber, can you tell the Court about the various medical experiments carried out on the inmates of Dachau?

A. Yes, I myself almost underwent something of the sort. Many of my friends and colleagues were - I cannot say used - abused in such experiments. There were all sorts of experiments, injections of Phenol, malaria, cold-water experiments, where they were thrown into ice-cold water, air- pressure tests, where people were placed in a bell jar and air was pumped in or out, and many died. They were normally people not capable of working, who were used as what we called guinea pigs.

Q. When were these experiments carried out?

A. All the time we were in Dachau these experiments were carried out. I was once summoned myself. I had suffered a severe heart attack, I assume it was a coronary, and after that I was not able to work. The way things were, no one was really supposed to die between the count at three o'clock in the afternoon and the evening roll call. Anyone who did die then had to be taken out to roll call, placed at a special place at the back, and included in the count. And I was with the corpses. When friends saw that I was still alive, they managed somehow to get me into the infirmary. Afterwards I was not fit to work, and they came to get me. It was a Dr. Rascher who carried out these experiments. Dr. Rascher, who received me with the usual greeting, told me that his grandfather had also been a clergyman.

Q. Just a moment, please. What do you mean by "the usual greeting"?

A. The collective term for us was "pig." It was the form of address which was usually our lot. When he said to me that his grandfather had been a clergyman, I said to him that I am, of course, prepared for anything, that according to my religious beliefs his grandfather in eternity knows what his grandson is doing, and that according to my religious beliefs his grandfather in eternity may well not be able to have a single second of rest, because he knows what his grandson is up to. I was prepared for anything - except that he should suddenly address me with the polite, formal "Sie" form and dismiss me. The next day he summoned me, ordered an ambulance, had me examined, ascertained that I was suffering from all sorts of things and said that I was no longer able to be in prison, which I already knew. He then said that he would try to have me released.

Q. And shortly afterwards you were actually released, were you not?

A. A little later, but the truth is that I do not ascribe it to him alone; I think that the main credit is due to my courageous wife, who fought for my release right from the beginning. She went to the Accused as well, to his deputy, to all the SS departments. There was also something else of which I was informed later. There was a lawyer called Langbehn, a deputy, at the time a representative of Himmler, who attempted to make peace with America. So perhaps it was meant as a gesture to America, something like "you see, we are not so bad after all, we even let people like Grueber out."

Q. In June 1943 you were already in Berlin, were you not?

A. I came to Berlin in June 1943. On the 23rd of June, on the eve of my birthday.

Q. Your office was locked up. Where were your people?

A. My family was living in Karlsdorf, an eastern suburb of Berlin. In March 1943 there was a direct hit on my house, my wife and my son, who was still at home, were miraculously saved, and of course they were not provided with substitute housing or clothing, since I was a treasonous criminal, but then they found emergency housing in Berlin.

Q. Did you continue with your relief activities after you returned to Berlin as well?

A. I was the parson of a large parish of 8,000 souls. Before I was arrested, I was also on the board of the Bekenntniskirche, as well as being involved part-time with the Dutch, and I managed all the work, but only because I really did work day and night. When I returned from the camp, I was a broken man who could not even go down the stairs without assistance.

I should like to add that, after my arrest, my work did not come to a halt but continued illegally. There were many hundreds of people who were prepared to work illegally, in order to procure food coupons and counterfeit identity papers, to provide housing, and what was called "going underground" (untertauchen); the driving force was Oberregierungsrat Kaufmann, who was shot shortly afterwards at the Wohlheide.

As far as I could, I reestablished contacts with these people who were working illegally, and of course they came to me with all sorts of questions, without the work actually becoming public.

Q. Dr. Grueber, do you remember two young Jews who lived with you after 1943?

A. Yes, if you mean the Neumann brother and sister, because there were many young people whom I helped, but I published the story of these two young people, not to relate anything about myself, of course. I should like to ask the Court to understand that I am of no importance; what is of importance is a Higher Being, on whose behalf I was acting, and if I put anything in writing, then this was simply to show that there was yet somebody else in control at that time, and there were not only the godless who desecrated human beings, but that there was also One who was taking care of people.

These were a young brother and sister, of the Jewish faith, the girl was staying with a clergyman and the boy at a market garden outside Berlin; every Friday evening they lit their candles, and on Sunday morning they came to my church in Karlsdorf. The girl - I do not wish to give the details, it was a very odd story which has been published, she had no choice because she had false papers - went to the Wehrmacht as a housekeeper. Her brother was caught and admitted that he was a Jew, and then he was maltreated until his skin was hanging off him in shreds, and she went in her uniform, still playing her role because she had no choice, to the Gestapo and said, that is my brother.

Rita - that was the girl's name - asked to be locked up together with her brother. She nursed him back to health. When he was well, they went on the transport. When the transport was being put together, there was an air raid alarm, and instead of going down to the cellar, they ran upstairs to the first open room, and there on the bed was a rope. They managed to climb down the rope, got through to Berlin to me, and they stood there in front of me with flayed hands, because they had not protected their hands, and I took them to a member of the party. He looked after them until the occupying troops arrived, and both are now happily married and living in America.

Q. Finally, Dr. Grueber, you have referred to the fact that you hold office in Berlin today. Is your congregation in the western part of Berlin, or the east, or in both parts?

A. I am the dean for Berlin; neither the Protestant nor the Catholic churches of Berlin are split. The only divided community in Berlin is the Jewish community. The church of my congregation is the Great Mary's Cathedral, and the deanship is a resident post, but being a community of persons, my congregation covers both parts of Berlin.

State Attorney Bar-Or: Thank you.

Presiding Judge: Dr. Servatius, do you have any questions to the witness?

Dr. Servatius: I do have a few questions.

Presiding Judge: Please proceed.

Dr. Servatius: Dr. Grueber, you have said that you repeatedly went to Eichmann's office in order to negotiate with him. What did you submit to him?

Witness Grueber: I submitted to him all the distressing facts confronting us: Matters of emigration, personal safety and all the other matters which were very pressing ones as a result of the Jewish laws.

Q. If I understood you correctly, you said: His replies were either a "no" or "you must wait."

A. Yes, some days.

Q. Do you interpret his replies "you must wait" as meaning that he wanted to ask his superiors?

A. In our dealings I never had the impression that the Accused depended only upon the instructions of his superiors. I never wondered whether in certain cases he might actually check with his superiors; from all of the Accused's behaviour the only impression I ever had was that he at least wished to give the impression of being the person in charge. Whether he was the person in charge, I was obviously not able to judge.

Q. You have said that the Accused spoke in the first person singular, that he was the mercenary trooper type.

A. Yes.

Q. Under such circumstances, is it customary for a person to refer to other echelons, or is it customary for that person to answer always in the first person singular, whether he is a soldier or a mercenary?

A. The distinction I am making between a mercenary and a soldier amounts to the following: When a German mercenary puts on his uniform, he sheds his conscience and his reason for the duration. We say that he puts them into the depot for the duration of his service.

Q. Witness, you have not answered my question. I asked why he uses the first person singular - let me make it clearer: Did he say I have been empowered to say and do this and that, or is it customary to say "I determine, I state," even in the case of an N.C.O.?

A. As far as I am concerned, the mercenary type is not specific to a particular military rank or other post; it can be found right up to the highest echelons. It is the sort of person who wants to represent something towards the outside world. There is a German expression for people like that, we call them "bicyclists" because they are always treading downwards, while upwards they bend their backs. I never saw him bend down, but I often saw him treading downwards.

Q. That was a most interesting psychological observation, but you have not replied to my question. I do not believe you are capable of replying to it, and therefore I shall not insist but shall ask another question.

A. Perhaps the Counsel for the Defence could ask the question in a clearer form. After all, you must bear in mind the fact that I am only an old man, and I do not grasp things as fast as young people, so perhaps you could ask the question in a rather more precise form? I shall be glad to answer any questions.

[Laughter in the courtroom.]

Presiding Judge: We will have no demonstration of feelings.

Dr. Servatius: I note that the witness has not answered my question. I have another question. You said that the Accused behaved like a block of marble and that it was impossible to get through to him. Did you try to influence him as a cleric, by pointing out to him in no uncertain terms that his behaviour was quite unsuitable, and that everything that was going on was extremely immoral and sinful?

Witness Grueber: On this, I would like to say that my attitude has always been that actions speak louder than words, and if the Accused realized from the way I behaved - and he must have realized - that I was moving around practically day and night, in order to help people - if he did not draw any conclusions from my example, then I really do not think that words would have got through to him, not to the extent required. Although I have had cases where I used words in order to fulfil my pastoral role.

Q. You have given a reply to my question to the effect that you did not remonstrate with him, and that your deeds alone should have spoken for themselves.

A. In cases where you have the feeling that words will run off like water off a duck's back, you do not even try. On the contrary, you are concerned that words might even widen the gap between people. But I would now like to relate something which I really did not wish to tell, from a personal encounter with the Accused.

Presiding Judge: Is what you are going to relate relevant to the question you have been asked?

Witness Grueber: Yes.

Dr. Servatius: Are you going to reply about the remonstrances you made to him?

Witness Grueber: I have just replied to that question.

Q. You really must answer my question. You were asked whether you remonstrated with him. You first answered "no."

Presiding Judge: I did not hear any answer "no." I heard a reply to the effect that, on the one hand, actions should have spoken for themselves, but, on the other hand, things were also said. That is how I understood the witness' testimony.

Dr. Servatius: The witness first said that he did not say anything, but that his actions had already spoken for themselves. But then, at the end, he added that certain things were said. If he now wishes to briefly relate these matters, I have no objections.

Witness Grueber: When you remonstrate with someone, that is not something which you do by means of orders. A pastor who uses nothing but imperatives is not a good spiritual adviser. One evening I arrived at the Kurfuerstenstrasse absolutely worn out, and I had the impression that the Accused, if I can put it this way, had had a good day. Perhaps he also felt somewhat sorry for me. I do not know if the Accused remembers the circumstances. He said: "Why do you care about the Jews at all? No one is going to thank you for your efforts." I replied, because I believed that he, as a former Templar, had known this country: "You know the road from Jerusalem to Jericho." Then I said: "Once on that road there lay a Jew who had fallen amongst thieves. Then a man passed by, who was not a Jew, and helped him. The Lord whom alone I obey tells me, 'Go thou and do likewise,' and that is my answer."

Q. I am satisfied with this reply. I have another question to the witness: Were you ever in Switzerland in connection with Jewish emigration?

A. Very frequently.

Q. How could you get to Switzerland? Did you not require a permit?

A. I had a valid German passport, and then, except for a few countries which were out of the question for me, it was still possible to travel everywhere, as long as you had a valid passport. I had a passport which was not stamped "J."

Q. At that time, were you not already under police surveillance?

A. Not only was I under police surveillance - my phone was tapped as well. I do not know if people here are aware that there was what was called the "Brown Post" - surveillance of phone calls and telegrams, by means of tapping. I had the privilege later of spending years in Sachsenhausen with the man who had spent years keeping me under surveillance.

Q. You have said that you felt unfathomable hatred emanating towards you from Eichmann. What did he say to give you that impression?

A. I would like to say that hatred does not only take the form of words, but that it can be expressed by someone's entire behaviour. That is not only my own experience, but that was also my wife's experience when she intervened on my behalf at the Kurfuerstenstrasse. She was treated very properly at Alexanderplatz, while she left the Kurfuerstenstrasse in tears.

Q. You said that you made an application in order to be able to operate with your relief organization under a church designation. Why did you make this application? Were not the churches themselves there, so that they could act on behalf of Jewish welfare?

A. I was concerned with having my name no longer connected with my activities, I was not trying to do anything for myself or make myself prominent, but I hoped that if there were some official title, that would be more useful for things like shipping connections with countries abroad and with other agencies - you must not forget that I dealt with agencies abroad; there is scarcely a single country to which I did not turn in order to open doors, and I think I can say now, that if in those days there had been just a fraction of the responsible attitude now shown towards refugees and emigrants, millions would have been saved - but you see, when I was dealing with bodies abroad, with ministries and embassies etc., it would have been far better all around if there had been some other letterhead. However, when you ask about the work of the churches, I would like to say that the official church in Germany had, with the help of Herr Hitler, got into the hands of what were known as German Christians, while our group, the Bekenntniskirche, was a group which for the most part worked illegally, because the official church at the time went along totally in Herr Hitler's wake.

Presiding Judge: Dr. Servatius, if you still have a number of questions, it might be better to recess now and continue the cross-examination this afternoon, because it is getting late.

Dr. Servatius: My questions were just short ones, but the answers have been lengthy. I still have several more questions.

Presiding Judge: Very well - quiet please, we will have quiet until the Court retires. We shall break off now until this afternoon, at half past three.

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