Canon Augustine Klein (1914-2000)

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Canon Augustine Klein; born July 27, 1914, died December 15, 2000.

Canon Augustine Klein, who was once arrested by the Gestapo in Germany and later interned in Ireland as a possible German spy, has died at the age of 86 in Dundee. Canon Klein served the RC diocese of Dunkeld for 31 years until he retired in 1986.

Born in Schraudenbach, near Dundee’s twin town of Wurzburg, Germany, he entered a Benedictine abbey at the age of 15. This was in the 1930s, when Nazism in Germany was soaring in popularity. The young Augustine Klein was a Catholic Youth leader, very much against the Hitler Youth movement. He, and others in the monastery, which became a haven for those fleeing persecution, were arrested for their opposition to the Nazi movement. He was interrogated and tortured, but despite his suffering he refused to reveal any names of those who had sought refuge in the abbey.

He was eventually released, at the age of 20, when Rudolf Hess granted an amnesty to all prisoners under the age of 21.

Two years later, in 1936, he became a Benedictine monk. The following year, because of his previous arrest, his order sent him to England. As he was about to leave Germany, he was stopped by the Gestapo and told his family would be shot if he ever spoke out against the Nazi regime.

When war broke out in 1939, as a German living in Britain he had to leave the country, as he would have been interned as a foreign national. He went to Dublin to live, where he was arrested again, this time because he was taken for a German spy.

Released again, he enrolled in a correspondence course at Oxford university with a view to studying for the priesthood.

After returning to live in England after the war, he came to Scotland on holiday, staying in Dundee. There he met Bishop James Donald Scanlan, whom he had known when the bishop was chancellor of Westminster diocese in London. He spoke to the bishop about his desire to study for the priesthood, and Bishop Scanlan accepted him for Dunkeld. He sent him to St Edmund’s college, Ware, and ordained him in St Andrew’s Cathedral, Dundee, in 1955.

His first post was assistant priest in St Patrick’s, Dundee. He later became chaplain to Wellburn Home in the city, the home where he was to spend the latter years of his life in the devoted care of the sisters and staff. He also served as secretary to

Bishop William Andrew Hart for a number of years, and was made a Canon of the Cathedral Chapter in 1980. He also served as parish priest of St Fergus’s, Forfar, and St Clement’s, Dundee. From 1981 until his retirement in 1986 Canon Klein was parish priest of St Teresa’s, Dundee.

A Requiem Mass, celebrated by Bishop Vincent Logan of Dunkeld, will be said in St Andrew’s Cathedral on Thursday before Canon Klein’s body is flown home to Germany