26 December 1961 Passing of Rev. John Gotthold Forell – German Jewish Refugee, Australian Internee and American Clergyman #otdimjh

John Gottlhold Forell

Gotthold Forell was born in Michelsdorf in 1922 as the youngest son of the pastor Friedrich Forell (see page 102ff, Evangelisch Getauft- als “Juden” verfolgt – Baptisted as Protestants – Persecuted as Jews) and his wife Magdalene. He attended the elementary school in Wroclaw.  After his father moved to Vienna in 1933 because of his Jewish ancestors, he and his brother Wolfgang (see page 106f.) attended the Wasa grammar school there.  After Austria’s “annexation” to the “Third Reich” in March 1938, his father and Wolfgang fled to Stockholm via Prague.  Gotthold stayed with his mother until the end of retirement and the family spent the March 1934 school year in Vienna and also came to Stockholm in August 1938. 

From there Magdalene Forell went to London with both sons. (more information needed here  -through Bell, the IHCA?)  While the mother and Wolfgang continued on to Paris to Friedrich Forell, Gotthold stayed in England until 1940.  His mentors were Bishop George Bell and Canon Greenslade.  In Knutsford, north-west England, he attended the Ordination Test School, a school that prepared young men to study theology. 

After the start of the Second World War, the British government interned him like thousands of other “hostile foreigners” and on July 10, 1940, brought him to Australia from Liverpool on the Dunera transport ship.  The crew of the ship treated the 2,500 men between the ages of 18 and 45 as prisoners of war, although as Jewish emigrants they were not suspected of sympathy for the Nazi state.  On September 6, 1940, the ship reached Sydney.  Gotthold Forell adopted the name “John G. Forell” in Australia.  An alternative to doing nothing in the barbed wire camp was the Australian Army.  From 1942 to 1944 John G. Forell was a soldier in this army.  From 1945 to 1946 he studied theology at Ridley College in Melbourne, one of the leading Protestant universities in Australia, and obtained the ThL (Licentiate in Theology), the minimum qualification for Ordination. 

On February 26, 1947 he was ordained Deacon at St. David’s Cathedral in Hobart, Tasmania, and ordained priest on February 24, 1948.  From 1946 to 1948 he was Assistant Curate at St. John’s in New Town, a suburb of Hobart.  He left Australia and landed in San Francisco on May 5, 1948.  As a minister of the Episcopal Churches in New Jersey, he was traveling minister in Washington from 1948 to 1950 and held services in Belvidere and Hope.  On January 13, 1950, he married Judith Jacklyn in Montreal, Canada.  From 1950 to 1961 he was a clergyman in Essex County in northeastern New Jersey: From 1950 to 1956 at Holy Trinity Church in West Orange and from 1957 to 1961 at Christ Church in Glen Ridge.  He died in New York City on December 26, 1961.  (Hartmut Ludwig)

More on his family is available. His daughter  Caroline has just retired as a Law Professor, and I am researching other details about the family and would be most grateful for any information!

Caroline Forell

Prayer: Lord, thank you for the life, ministry and family of this refugee, internee, wanderer and disciple. His travels, both geographical, emotional and spiritual speak of a life torn by circumstances, tossed around across cultures, but healed by prayer, blessed by family, and watched over by You. Lord, who knows the pattern of our lives- our shape, destiny and achievements? May this day be a day to bless you and be a blessing to others. In our Messiah’s name we pray. Amen

Sources – https://law.uoregon.edu/trailblazing-professor-caroline-forell-retires-after-41-years-teaching

Evangelisch getauft – als »Juden« verfolgt
Theologen jüdischer Herkunft in der Zeit des Nationalsozialismus
Ein Gedenkbuch herausgegeben von Hartmut Ludwig und Eberhard Röhm in Verbindung mit Jörg Thierfelder

Publisher: Calwer Verlag GmbH (1 Dec. 2014)
Language: German
ISBN-10: 9783766842992
ISBN-13: 978-3766842992



https://www.facebook.com/In-Memoriam-George-Wolfgang-Forell-1919-2011-157762827620438/ – John’s letter to his brother –

Archive interview of John’s sister – https://archive.org/details/Mutti-01

About richardsh

Messianic Jewish teacher in UK
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4 Responses to 26 December 1961 Passing of Rev. John Gotthold Forell – German Jewish Refugee, Australian Internee and American Clergyman #otdimjh

  1. Pingback: 26 December 1961 Passing of Rev. John Gotthold Forell – German Jewish Refugee, Australian Internee and American Clergyman #otdimjh — On This Day In Messianic Jewish History | Talmidimblogging

  2. jforell says:

    I’m one of John’s grandsons (named after him). Happy to provide more information!


    • richardsh says:

      Thanks John – that would be great – do email me at richardsharvey@gmail.com – I would be most interested in the family history and how in different ways his life, faith, identity and legacy have been handed down – many thanks – Richard Harvey


  3. David Thomas says:

    I’m interested to read this. Happened to think about John today and put the name into Google.
    He and I began a sojourn at Ridley College in March 1945. I was in my first year of medical studies – not a theolog.
    I don’t know that I can tell you anything that you don’t already know. Except that I do remember who his girlfriend was at that time!


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