Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Klein, Louis (1917–1975)

by Suzanne D. Rutland

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 15, (MUP), 2000

Louis Klein (1917-1975), clothing manufacturer and Jewish leader, was born on 5 November 1917 at Spitalfields, London, one of four sons of Solomon Klein, a journeyman tailor from Eastern Europe, and his wife Fanny, née Gilbert. His parents were Jewish and strictly orthodox. Louis attended a cheder (afternoon religious school) and a general English school in the East End, and later a polytechnic and classes at the University of London. He worked with his father in the manufacturing section of the clothing firm, Simpson (Piccadilly) Ltd. At the register office, Holborn, on 28 October 1940 he married Mona Freda Finegold. While serving (1941-46) in the British Army he was wounded twice and mentioned in dispatches (1945).

Tall and distinguished looking, Klein dressed immaculately. In 1948 he emigrated with his family to New South Wales and settled at Parramatta. That year, with his cousin Sidney Sinclair, he founded and became joint managing director of Anthony Squires Pty Ltd, which was to grow to be one of the country's largest manufacturers of quality men's suits. Vice-president of the Australian Confederation of Apparel Manufacturers, he chaired several investment companies. As a founder and later president of the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce, he fostered Australian trade with Israel.

Klein was prominent in the formation of the Parramatta Synagogue. After moving to the North Shore, he served on the local synagogue's board of management (president 1968-70). He also helped to establish the Jewish Memorial Centre in Canberra and, in 1967, the Joint (later Jewish) Communal Appeal to raise funds for organizations in Sydney. By the early 1970s Klein was a prominent leader of Australian Jewry. He had been State chairman and president of the United Israel Appeal (a major fund-raising organization for Israel), executive-chairman of its federal branch and vice-president of the New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies. In October 1972 he was elected president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry. He was sometime vice-president of the New South Wales Friends of the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, and of Shalom College, University of New South Wales.

Disenchanted with the standard of the Jewish press, Klein had bought the Australian Jewish Times in 1968. The newspaper developed rapidly under his leadership and with the capital he provided. In 1973 he bought out the Sydney Jewish News. Klein was a board-member of the Hakoah Eastern Suburbs Soccer Club, a member of the State branch of the National Trust of Australia and a benefactor of the Australian Opera. He belonged to the Royal Automobile Club of Australia, the Royal Motor Yacht Club of New South Wales and Tattersall's Club in Sydney, and to Curzon House in London. In 1973 he was appointed C.B.E.

Klein died of myocardial infarction on 31 July 1975 in his apartment at Toft Monks, Elizabeth Bay, and was buried in Northern Suburbs cemetery. He was survived by his wife, son and daughter; they later ran the Australian Jewish Times (the Australian Jewish News from 1990).

Select Bibliography

  • S. D. Rutland, Seventy-Five Years (Syd, 1970)
  • S. D. Rutland, Pages of History (Syd, 1995)
  • Australian Jewish Times, Dec 1968, Feb 1973, Aug 1975
  • private information.

Citation details

Suzanne D. Rutland, 'Klein, Louis (1917–1975)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/klein-louis-10758/text19073, published first in hardcopy 2000, accessed online 28 November 2014.

This article has been amended since its original publication. View Original

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 15, (MUP), 2000

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