The first German to give evidence at the Eichmann trial entered the witness box today.?
The first German to give evidence at the Eichmann trial entered the witness box today. He was Dean Heinrich Gruber, a Protestant Minister from West Berlin and a former prisoner in both Dachau and Sachsenhausen concentration camps.
He told the court that prisoners - some of whom were buried alive and could not cry out or complain - "suffered more than in Dante's inferno." He said that in the camp people were infected with diseases and fevers, including typhus, so that medical experiments could be carried out on them by the Nazis. "Prisoners used in experiments were known as 'guinea pigs'," he said.
In Dachau the rule was that "no one was allowed to die between three o'clock in the afternoon and the evening roll call." When roll call was made, said Dean Gruber, a dead man had to appear, his body being laid on the ground for counting.
He had tried to help Jews in the camps but found Eichmann "like a block of ice". He never remembered Eichmann saying "I must check with higher authority." Dean Gruber added that he did, however, find some understanding among officials and told of Nazis who actually helped the Jews.
He concluded his evidence by appealing for forgiveness for the crimes against the Jews, including forgiveness for Eichmann. Reminding the court that he was the first German to appear to give testimony he added "I found it difficult to appear."
"I hope, however, that what is said and was done here in these proceedings will contribute not only to understanding between Israel and Germany but will be a plea for the accused... that forgiving love and forgiven guilt will meet before God's Throne."