Reverend Francis Wahle passes away aged 95

Despite being raised Catholic, Francis Wahle was considered Jewish under the Nuremberg Laws


Father Francis Wahle, who passed away May 14, 2024 (Credit: AJR)

Kindertransport refugee Reverend Francis Wahle, who only discovered his Jewish roots when his family was targeted under the Nuremberg Laws, has passed away at the age of 95.

Wahle was born in Vienna in 1929. His grandparents were Jewish, but he was raised Catholic as both of his parents had converted.

His Jewish heritage only became known to Wahle following the 1938 Anschluss, and he was forced to leave his secular school.

Speaking to the JC in 2022, he said it was his “mother’s energy that saved us...She was at every embassy trying to find a way for us to escape.”

In January 1939, he and he sister Anne travelled to England on the Kindertransport, via Harwich and were looked after by the Catholic Committee for Refugees.

His parents survived the war in Vienna. “We were some of the lucky ones. I am grateful to God,” he said.

Wahle later trained for the priesthood in Rome, while his sister returned to Vienna where she spearheaded interfaith relations through her directorship of the Information Centre for Christian and Jewish Understanding.

Wahle was ordained in 1965 and became Parish Priest for Enfield.

Last year, he met the King as part of the 85th anniversary commemorations, organised by the Association of Jewish Refugees.

Michael Newman, CEO of AJR, said they were “deeply saddened to hear about the passing of our much-loved member Rev. Francis Wahle.

“The AJR is grateful to have had the opportunity to capture Francis’ testimony, both as part of our Refugee Voices archive and for our My Story collection. Capturing experiences like Francis’ helps preserve the record of the Holocaust and enables us all to learn about his remarkable life and the contribution he made to his adopted home.

“We will miss his warmth and positive outlook and are honoured to continue to tell his story as part of our work.”

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