Voice of Hampshire Jewry who became the ‘father’ of the Portsmouth community
THE FORMER warden of Portsmouth and Southsea Hebrew Congregation, Julius Klein, who has died in London aged 91, was a Holocaust survivor whose devotion to Judaism made him a leading light within the Portsmouth community.
He was the son of Dusseldorf’s muchloved and staunchly patriotic Rabbi Dr. Siegfried Klein and his wife Lilli (née Plotke). Rabbi Klein was awarded the Iron Cross for service at the front in the First World War, served as Field Rabbi and co-founded the League of German-Jewish Veterans. Nevertheless on Kris tall nacht, November 9,1938, Nazi troops forced their way into the family home, assaulting his parents and vandalising everything in their path, even throwing the piano out of the window. They were arrested but Julius and his mother were released the next day. His father spent a further 12 days in custody.
The murder and destruction of Kristallnacht spurred Julius’s parents to send him and his elder sis- ter Hanna to safety in England on the Kindertransport the following year. Julius was sponsored by Arnold and Lena Levy, owners of the Itshide Rubber Company of Petersfield. Lilli perished in Lodz ghetto in Poland and Rabbi Dr. Klein was murdered two years later in Auschwitz. Aged 14 in 1939 when he arrived, Julius began working in an administrative capacity at Itshide Rubber, where he spent his entire career. The company was most famous for Minibrix, a rubber predecessor to Lego.His sister Hanna married and settled in Cumbria. On retirement Julius became the “father” of Portsmouth Synagogue, on the board of management and as warden. He often led Shabbat services. and was active in interfaith development and religious education through local organisations. He also put his considerable intellectual and artistic gifts to good use, writing and drawing.
In 1998, with his niece Marion, he finally visited Düsseldorf for the first time since 1939, where a street and a Jewish Youth Centre had been named after his father.
Julius never married and had no children. Hanna predeceased him and he is survived by her daughter Marion.
Julius Klein: Born April 4, 1925. Died December 27, 2016
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