- Due Disobedience
Raoul Wallenberg Foundation, a non-governmental organization
created in Argentina, pays tribute in one of its educational
programs dedicated to the saviors of people persecuted
during the Nazi regime, the other side of the tragic
coin called the Holocaust.
The Holocaust -Shoah-
took place in spite of the determination of a minority
who flagrantly disobeyed, at their own risk, the orders
of the Third Reich. It is precisely this concept of disobedience
to aberrant orders and regimes which violate individual
freedoms, which must be rescued as a lesson given by these
heroes of modern times.
Grüber was the only German witness who testified
in the Adolf Eichmann trial,
in Jerusalem. The fortieth anniversary of his execution
is on May 31st. Interrogated by Dr. Robert Servatius,
Attorney for the Defense of the war criminal, Grüber
declared: "Shortly after the November pogrom, when
Goebbels said that Kristallnacht was 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."
was a protestant dean in Berlin who has gone down in history
not only for his determined opposition to Nazism but also
for having risked his life to save Jews condemned to extermination.
He was born in Stolberg,
on June 24th. 1891. Of Huguenot stock, he studied Theology
in Bonn, Berlin and Utrecht before becoming an active
social worker and the director of a home for handicapped
He staunchly opposed
Hitler from the moment he arrived at the German Chancellery
in January 1933. Soon he came in contact with who would
be one of his best friends for the rest of his life, Pastor
founder in 1934 of the Confessional Church ("Bekennende
Kirche"), which opposed the official church, allied
It was precisely this
new church, nucleus of the protestant resistance to Nazism
and the craddle of distinguished professors of theology
after the war, which entrusted him with the setting up
of an organization, known as the "Bürö
Grüber", at his vicarage in Kaulsdorf, near
Berlin, to help save Christians of Jewish descent and
Jews in general.
The Büro dealt
with emigration and employment abroad, care for the aged,
welfare and the education of Jewish children. Grüber
personally negotiated with the Nazi authorities, including
Eichmann´s Gestapo office, on behalf of Jewish organizations.
With the outbreak of
war he was frequently harassed by the Gestapo. In December
1940 he was arrested and sent to Sachsenhausen concentration
camp, then transferred to Dachau. There he suffered from
a heart complaint and in an incident with two guards he
was beaten and had his teeth knocked out.
He was liberated in
1943 and immediately resumed contact with clergymen in
When the war was over
he founded the Evangelical Aid Society for Former Victims
of Racial Persecution. From 1949 to 1958 he was the chief
representative of the Evangelical Church in East Berlin,
resigning his position in protest against anti-Christian
smears in the DDR.
He was not the most
popular figure in West Germany either. His advocacy of
nuclear disarmament and his attacks on West German militarism,
not to mention his insistence on the collective guilt
of the German nation for Nazi crimes, caused him the rejection
and dislike of many people. Grüber argued that every
German "who glosses over his past failings is a potential
criminal of tomorrow". He also denounced the official
whitewashing of the German people in the post-war period.
During the rest of
his life, Grüber continued to emphasize the moral
obligation of the Germans to the Jewish people and to
warn the authorities against minimizing the neo-Nazi activity
in the Federal Republic.
His book of recollections,
"Memories of Seven Decades", was published in
1968. He died in Berlin of a heart attack at the age of
84, on 29 November 1975.
New York, May 2002