Kruger, son of a Jewish mother and a Presbyterian father, was
born in Berlin on April 7th 1924. He arrived in Edinburgh in
1939 at the age of 15 as a refugee from Nazi Germany along with
his brother Hans. Soon afterwards he was picked up on his way
to church, wearing his school uniform of Edinburgh Academy and
was deported to a detention camp for aliens in Canada. There
he became a Catholic in 1940. On his return to Scotland he expressed
an interest in becoming a priest and after a short period of
reflection, he was accepted to be educated at St Mary's College
Blairs in Aberdeen and St Edmund's College Ware. He was ordained
in Edinburgh on the 17th July 1949 at the age of 25 by The
Most Reverend Andrew J McDonald, OSB, Archbishop of St Andrews
and Edinburgh.. He never forgot his Jewish roots and the Reformed
Protestant faith of his family back in Berlin. His brother Hans
also became a Catholic and followed Fr Krugger into the Priesthood
and is now known as Fr Boniface.
After service for a year as assistant Priest at St Ninian and
Triduane at restalrig in Edinburgh from 1949 to 1950 he continued
with further studies this time at Cambridge University for 4
years from 1950 to 1953. After a further year as an assistant
priest at St Cuthbert's Edinburgh (1953 to 1954) he undertook
a period teaching as a Professor at Blairs Seminary followed
by yet further studies at the Institut Catholique in the Sorbonne
University de Paris, where he completed a 3 year course in the
doctoral Licentiate in Philosophy in only 2 years and having
done so, graduated summa cum laude.
Following his many studies Canon Kruger then undertook an extensive
academic tenure as Professor at the Diocesan Senior Seminary
of St Andrews at Drygrange from 1957 to 1970.
He then went to Parish work in Grangemouth on 1st Sept 1970
having been appointed by Cardinal Gordon Gray to establish a
new church of ‘Christ
the King’. As well as undertaking his parish duties,
the then Father Kruger also took a great interest in the wider
community in Grangemouth. He was the chairman and founder member
of Grangemouth Enterprises, a member of Grangemouth Council
of Churches, Christian Aid, Chairman of the local Catholic Marriage
Advisory Committee as well as being the Dean of the Deanery
of St Mungos for the Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh.
On the 26th November 1987 Father Kruger was transferred to St.
Patrick's Parish in Kilsyth. Shortly thereafter in 1988 he was
admitted to the Cathedral Chapter of Canons by the then Archbishop
O'Brien. Canon Karl Kruger died suddenly and unexpectedly
only 18 months after his arrival in Kilsyth on 24th May 1989.
After Mass with a congregation of nearly 1000 people in St Patrick’s,
containing many of his friends from Grangemouth, his remains
were interred at Kilsyth cemetery beside one of his predecessors
as Parish Priest of St Patrick's Kilsyth, Canon
Thomas McGarvie. Fr Boniface, his brother, after concelabrating
Canon Kruger's funeral Mass, donated his chalice to the people
of St Patrick's Kilsyth. This chalice is used on a daily basis
for communion and from time to time by Fr Boniface, who returns
to say Mass in St Patrick's around the anniversary of Canon
Krugger's death when he is able to do so.
The image immediately above of Canon Kruger, is from an original
painting by Charlie McGuire of Grangemouth.
Eulogy given by His Grace Archbishop O’Brien
at his funeral Mass in Kilsyth
"In Canon Karl Kruger we have lost a great
friend – and the Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh
has lost a great priest.
Karl-Heinz Kruger, or KHK as he was more affectionately known
later, was born in Berlin on the 7th April 1924. As a boy of
15 his life was disrupted when, because his mother was a Jewess,
he was forced to become a refugee from Nazi Germany with his
younger brother Hans, now Fr Boniface O.F.M., and he was separated
from his family.
He arrived in Scotland in 1939 through the agency of a refugee
organisation, but after the outbreak of war he was interred
as an alien – arrested one Sunday morning while preparing
for Church and was taken away, separated from his brother Hans,
clad ironically in the school uniform of Edinburgh Academy.
His brother Hans was too young to be arrested.
After a short stay at a camp in England he was deported, still
a prisoner to Canada, still clad in his school uniform –
a fact which proved an asset in Canada as one of the prison
guards was a former pupil of Edinburgh Academy and was very
good to him.
Canon Kruger was naturally reticent about those years and one
respected his privacy, but they must have been painful years
for him. Only once in the long years of our friendship did he
ever speak of them – on the last occasion we were together
a couple of weeks ago. It was to say – perhaps in hindsight,
that it was then, the only time in his life, that he felt the
hand of God was obviously, almost tangibly at work in him.
While imprisoned in camp in Canada, he met and became friendly
with another refugee from Hitler’s Germany, Bernhard Pfundk,
a student for the priesthood whose studies had been interrupted
when he fled Germany. As Canon Kruger put it they had absolutely
nothing else to do, so they just discussed theology, day in
and day out, and his mentor was very knowledgeable and thorough.
On returning to Scotland in 1940, he became a Catholic, he had
been brought up a Lutheran, expressed his desire to study for
the priesthood but being a new convert he was asked to wait
and pray about it. He did and in 1943 entered St Mary’s
College, Blairs, to commence his study of Philosophy.
The War was still on and officially he was not completely free;
for the record he was, like many P.O.W.s and internees, an agricultural
worker on the home farm in Blairs. He completed his study in
Philosophy, but while his fellow students moved on, he was forced
to remain at Blairs as an agricultural worker for another year,
during which he began his further study of Philosophy alone,
tutored by members of the staff at Blairs, doing his daily stint
on the farm. The following year he was allowed his freedom and
rejoined some of his former fellow-students at St Edmund’s
He completed his theology and was ordained to the priesthood
on 17th July 1949 in St Mary’s Cathedral, Edinburgh by
the late Archbishop McDonald. He was delighted that his father
was present at his ordination – his mother having died
during the war.
After his ordination he served for a year as a curate at St
Ninian’s Edinburgh, before being sent to Cambridge where
he graduated in French and German in 1953. He returned to Edinburgh
where he served another year as a curate in St Cuthbert’s
Parish. In 1954 he was appointed to the staff of St Mary’s
College, Blairs, the national junior seminary for students to
However his own days as a student were not yet over, for in
1955 he was sent to the Institut Catholique in Paris to study
for a degree in Philosophy. He completed his Licentiate in Philosophy
and wrote his doctoral thesis on Husserl in 2 years, although
the Licentiate was a 3 year course. He was awarded a summa
In the summer of 1957 he was appointed to the staff of St Andrew’s
College Drygrange, where he lectured in Philosophy for the next
13 years and is remembered with great affection by the staff
and students of that era.
In 1970 he was appointed to the newly formed Parish of Christ
the King, Grangemouth, where he built the presbytery and church
complex which opened in 1975. Finally he came to Kilsyth 2 years
ago and was last year made a Canon of the Cathedral Chapter.
He died on the 24th May 1989.
Over the years Canon Kruger was indefatigable. During his years
in Drygrange over and above his lectures in philosophy he found
time to be promoter of Vocations in the archdiocese –
advising, organising seminars and working with boys prior to
their entry to the seminary.
Also during those years he undertook and completed the translation
from German the monumental multi-volume work of the perhaps
the leading, but obtruse, theologian of the 20th Century: The
“Theological Investigations” of Karl Rahner.
Indeed it is widely held that to understand Rahner one has to
read him in the Kruger translation!
While in Grangemouth Canon Kruger found time to set up, organise
and direct the Catholic Marriage Advisory Council in Central
Region – work which he continued to the end.
He served as Dean, sat on the Council of Priests and when the
program of renewal in the Archdiocese was envisaged, he was
involved in setting it up and directing it – work which
he also continued to the end. In Grangemouth too he found time
to be actively involved in the setting up and in the running
of ‘Grangemouth Enterprises’a project in conjunction
with Manpower Services, a project employing youth workers in
the restoration and resale of furniture. He remained involved
even after his appointment to Kilsyth.
One could only admire his tremendous stamina and application
over the years. He found time – he made time.
It is very difficult to pay adequate tribute to Canon Kruger
– but the short curriculum vitae speaks for itself. He
was, in the kindest possible sense, a complex person. Given
his early years one might suspect that he would be academic,
removed and aloof. Nothing could be further from the truth,
he wore his learning lightly and all his work was pastorally
He was a private person, reticent about himself – above
all reticent about his achievements, but at the same time he
was outgoing, generous, understanding and above all extremely
charitable. He invited trust and confidence, was a wise councellor
as we know and much loved by all who knew him. One always left
his company enriched and enhanced.
His dedication and his application to his priestly work and
the efficiency which he carried out all that he undertook or
was asked to undertake – these were there for all to see,
things that even he could not hide.
When one thinks of Canon Kruger it is one who had definitely
had decided his priorities and who lived out his life undeviatingly
according to those priorities. He had chosen to follow Our Lord
in the priesthood and whatever else he may have been, he was
first last and foremost a priest and no-one was ever allowed
to forget that fact. Throughout his life he burdened himself
with only that which was necessary for his priestly work –
all his work was priestly work. In his death the age old adage
was fulfilled ‘repentina mors, sacerdotis sors’
– sudden death is the lot of the priest.
His last wish of all of us is expressed in the final words of
his very short will: ‘pray for me, a poor sinner.’"
Eulogy by kind permission of The Scottish
Catholic Directory, 1990 edition, page 403 - 405.