KZ GUSEN MEMORIAL COMMITTEE
within ARBEITSKREIS FUER HEIMAT-, DENKMAL- UND GESCHICHTSPFLEGE (AHDG)
and Local-International Platform ST. GEORGEN/GUSEN, Austria
KZ Mauthausen-GUSEN Info-Pages
Dr. Johann (Papa) Gruber
"The Saint of Gusen"
Dr. Johann Gruber was a teacher and a Roman Catholic priest who did not
hesitate to offend the Nazis after the 3rd Reich´s annexation of Austria.
In 1938, Dr. Gruber was removed from his job and imprisoned by the Nazis who
accused him of sexually abusing some of his pupils. As a result, Dr. Gruber
was sent to prison at Linz and Garsten from 1938 to 1939, to wait
for the Nazi trials against him.
After these trials, he was first sent to KZ Dachau and then, because he was a priest,
to KZ Gusen in 1940.
So, from the first hour, he was a prominent Austrian political prisoner at this camp.
When the Vatican achieved improvements for priests in the concentration camps
in March 1940, most of the German and Austrian priests at KZ Gusen camp were
re-transferred to the better KZ Dachau camp. But Dr. Gruber volunteered
to remain in KZ Gusen to help his Polish comrades who were to be exterminated
in KZ Gusen.
Since Dr. Gruber had been in very good standing earlier in his life with many
high-ranking people of the former Austrian Republic, he was
granted unusual privileges by the SS, and he used these privileges to help the
poorest of his comrades in the camp.
Thus, he became a very valuable inmate at KZ Gusen to both the SS and the inmates.
This put him in a position to organize many things. For example,
he organized a school inside the camp to educate Polish children who were
deported to the camp.
In addition, in 1941, when archeological findings were made
along with the construction of a railway to KZ Gusen, Dr. Gruber became
chief of that archeological command.
This position also allowed him to maintain contacts with people outside the
camp (archeologists, people from museums, etc.). He was able to raise money
from his friends on the outside and to smuggle this money into the camp while
arranging for the archeological findings to be registered in museums outside the camp.
This enabled him to bribe SS-men and Kapos to allow him to organize
food inside the camp for those inmates who were starving, and thus saving many lives.
But smuggling money in was not all; together with friends from Linz,
he also smuggled out information about KZ Gusen.
Unfortunately, his organization was betrayed in early 1944 and he was
tortured and ritually killed by
the SS and GeStaPo in April 1944.
With "Papa" Grubers death, hope vanished for many inmates
and KZ Gusen became a "Hell of Hells" without any chance
Since 1987 several attempts are made to achieve the canonization
of "Papa" Gruber at the Vatican.
Finally, the Nazi sentence against Dr. Johann Gruber (6 Hv 247/38, 6 Vr 839/38) was officially reversed
on January 29, 1999 by "Landesgericht Linz" - 55 years after his martyrdom.
The place in front of the KZ Gusen Memorial was named in the honour of Dr. Johann Gruber "Papa-Gruber-Platz"
along with the local-international commemoration at Gusen on May 5, 2001.
On December 20, 2001 the governor of Upper Austria, Landeshauptmann Dr. Josef Puehringer, and
Maximilian Aichern, the Bishop of Linz, inaugurated a memorial plaque in the presence of
M. Paul Brusson (President of Amicale Belge de Mauthausen) and M. Fjodor Solodivnik
(Vice-President of the International Mauthausen Committee) at the
"Institut fuer Hoer- und Sehbildung" in Linz, Austria.
- Bandion Wolfgang, Johann Gruber: Mauthausen-Gusen 7.April 1944 mit 14 Radierungen von Alfred Hrdlicka, WUV-Universitätsverlag, Wien 1995
- Bernadac Christian, Les Sorciers du Ciel - L´Organisation Gruber (about Dr. Johann Gruber), France Empire, Paris 1969
- Brusson Paul, Allocution de l´President de l´amicale Belge de Mauthausen pour Gusen, Bulletin Interieure de l´ Amicale Francaise de Mauthausen, Numero Special pour la 50eme Anniversaire de la Liberation, Paris 1995
- Carrouges Michel, Père Jacques (The Previous Good Friday), The Macmillan Company, p.208 ff, New York, 1961
- Deble Louis, Johann Gruber, pretre autrichien, assasine le 7 avril 1944, Bulletin Interieure de l´ Amicale Francaise de Mauthausen, Numero Special pour l´ 50eme Anniversaire de la Liberation, Paris 1995
- Deutschmann Ruth, Dr. Johann Gruber, TV-Beitrag fuer ORF-FS2 ORIENTIERUNG am 14. Mai 2000, ca. 8 Min, Wien 2000
- KURIER (Austrian Newspaper), "Mord zu Christi Todesstunde" (Murder at Christ´s Hour of Death), p. 15, Vienna, April 2, 1999
- Lenz Johannes Maria, Christus in Dachau - Priester in Gusen, Libri Catholici, Wien
- Wagner Helmut, Dr. Johann Gruber, Blutzeugen des Glaubens, Martyrologium des 20. Jahrhunderts, Band 2, Diözesen: Graz-Seckau, Linz, Wiener Dom-Verlag, Wien 2000 (Herausgeber: Jan Mikrut)
- WIENER KIRCHENZEITUNG (Austrian Newspaper), "Staerker als die SS" (More powerful than the SS), p. 6, Vienna, May 2, 1999
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Most recent updates of this page were made on
2001-12-20 by Rudolf A. HAUNSCHMIED,
Martha Gammer, Siegi Witzany-Durda and
Jan-Ruth Mills with her students in US-Alabama