Teaching the Holocaust with Primary Sources
Introduction: Nuremberg Race Laws | Kristallnacht | Ghettos
Concentration Camps: Dachau | Bergen-Belsen | Auschwitz
Righteous Among the Nations: Gies | Schindler | Winton | Grueninger
Primary Source and Analysis Tools | Library of Congress Resources
Primary Source Sets | PDF Version
Many who helped the Jews during the Holocaust were regular people who were unidentified or forgotten by everyone except those they helped. Paul Grueninger was a police border guard at the Switzerland-Austria boarder. His job was to send Jewish refugees without proper paperwork back to Austria. As the situation for Austrian Jews worsened, more refugees tried to enter Switzerland illegally. Grueninger had a decision to make, follow orders and refuse entry to refugees and send them to an uncertain future or let them cross the border. Grueninger began falsifying documents to show that Jewish refugees had entered Switzerland before the border closed. This let refugees be treated as legals and when taken to the Diepolsau camp they received assistance. Grueninger falsified reports showing how many refugees entered Switzerland at his border and used his own money to purchase clothing for many who left their homes with nothing.
Paul Grueninger's activities were discovered by Germans who informed Swiss authorities. He was dismissed without benefits from the police force in 1939.26 Grueninger was arrested and charged with illegally permitting 3,600 Jews into Switzerland by falsifying papers.26 As a result, he lost his pension benefits and had to pay court costs and fines, living the rest of his life with a meager income.
26. Yad Vashem, The Righteous Among the Nations, The Policeman who Lifted
the Border Barrier, Paul Grueninger, Accessed 8.10.12