Suddenly Jews is the story of baptized, church-going Christians who one day in early 1933 found themselves classified as Jews by the Nazi authorities, because their ancestors had belonged to a synagogue. The sudden Jews were between a rock and a hard place. The synagogues did not know them, and the official church did not want them. In this perilous time, a fraction of the church split with the official church and set up an agency to try to help – the Bureau Grüber, named after the courageous and resourceful pastor who founded it.
In 1961, Pastor Grüber was the only German called as a witness in the Eichmann trial in Jerusalem. He testified:
One evening I arrived very worn out in the Kurfürstenstrasse, and there I had the impression that the accused [Eichmann] had had, if I may say so, a good day. Perhaps he even took pity on me. I don’t know if the accused remembers this incident.
He said, ‘Why are you bothering with these Jews, anyway? No one will thank you for this work. Why all this big fuss for the Jews?’
I answered him, ‘Do you know the road that leads from Jerusalem to Jericho?’ And then I said, ‘Once there was a Jew lying on this road, who was the victim of robbers. And then someone came along who was not a Jew and he helped him. The Lord whom alone I obey says to me, “Go thou and do likewise.” That is my answer.’
Hartmut Ludwig is Professor of Church History at the Humboldt University in Berlin. He specializes in the church of the 20th century and is the author of numerous articles and books on the topic.
Translated and edited by Martin Nicolaus. Available in print and as a Kindle book in late September ’15.