Charity burial for St John's Wood recluse

By Robyn Rosen, January 6, 2011

A Jewish funeral has been held for a German refugee whose mysterious story was uncovered by Jewish education charity, British ORT.

The charity was contacted last month by the missing persons' department at Marylebone police station, which was searching for information about Franz Joseph Nebel. His body was found by police in his St John's Wood home in October.

Police had discovered an article in his flat from a German newspaper about a group, known as the Old Boys, who had visited Berlin in 1989.

The trip marked the 50th anniversary of when British ORT relocated 104 German Jewish pupils from the ORT school in Berlin three days before the outbreak of the Second World War. Mr Nebel was one of the Old Boys.

Muriel Stempel, events manager of British ORT, said: "As no next-of-kin was found, he was going to be cremated but the police were happy for British ORT and the United Synagogue to arrange a Jewish funeral
for him.

The police found out he was a Jew and passed him to us

"The United Synagogue Burial Office was extremely helpful, and once satisfied that Mr Nebel was Jewish, they arranged a charity burial for him."

He was buried on Sunday, December 26, at Waltham Abbey Jewish cemetery.

Mrs Stempel said: "Unfortunately not many people knew Franz and his funeral was attended by
one of the Leeds Old Boys, Bert Goldsmith and his wife, by myself and my husband."

Rabbi Reuven Lanning said at the funeral: "He has passed away with almost no-one caring, but the police found out he was a Jew and with due credit to them, passed him to us.

"We are a people, a nation who look after each other, and as such Franz is getting a Jewish burial.

"It is sad that he did not reach out to his people during his lifetime."

Last updated: 1:48pm, January 6 2011