Julius Carlebach was born in Hamburg on the 28th of December 1922 as the fourth of nine children of Chief Rabbi Dr. Joseph Carlebach and Charlotte Carlebach (nee Preuss). Together with his sister Judith he came to Great Britain as a refugee on the first Kindertransport in 1938 at the age of 15. He lost his parents and three sisters at the concentration camp Jungfernhof (Latvia). In London Julius Carlebach lived with foster parents.
After serving in the Alien Pioneer Corps (1941-1943) and in the Royal Navy (1943-1946) he became Principle and Supervising Housefather at the Jewish Orphanage Norwood (1948-1959) where he re-discovered his deeper connection to the Jewish religion. At the orphanage he met Myrna Landau, whom he married in 1959. During this time he also studied part-time at the University of London and Cambridge and completed a degree in sociology and criminology. In 1959 he accepted a job as Assistant to the Board of Kenya Jewry and the local Zionist organisation. Quite unexpectedly he became Acting Minister of Nairobi with a special focus in child welfare, which led him to an additional position as President of the Children Welfare Society Kenya. Myrna and Julius Carlebach spent four years in Kenya, where their two sons were born. During his employment at the Jewish Orphanage Norwood and the Hebrew Congregation Nairobi he completed several studies and related publications regarding Child Care, the role of Jewish Women in Kenya, Jews in Nairobi and crime, which had a positive influence on his academic career.
Once back in Great Britain he signed up for a research fellowship in criminology at the Emmanuel College, Cambridge from 1963 to 1966. During this period, he started a systematic study of files about the experiences of the Kindertransport children, a topic which concerned him his whole life having experienced it himself. His work with the Youth Aliyah Organisation which started with a study about its future only one year later was of similar importance to him.
Carlebach began his long cooperation with the University of Sussex in 1968 where he first became lecturer after he was refused to carry on his career as a lecturer at Bristol University. He initiated an Israeli Studies programme and his research on the history of ideas led to the publication of 'Karl Marx and the Radical Critique of Judaism'. At Sussex and Bristol University he served as Jewish student chaplain, for which he lived in the student's residence Hillel House (part of the international Jewish Campus organisation) for a total of eight years. Although Julius never studied Judaism as an academic subject his remarkable erudition led to his appointment as co-editor of the Leo Baeck Institute Yearbook, the leading publication in the field of German-Jewish Studies.
After his retirement from the University of Sussex he was invited to take up a new appointment as Vice Chancellor of the Hochschule fuer Juedische Studien Heidelberg (University of Jewish Studies) in 1989. There he was responsible for a remarkable revival of the scholarship in the field of Judaism and the Hochschule fuer Juedische Studien obtained the right to award doctorates in 1995. His services to Jewish education in Germany were acknowledged by the award of the Commanders Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic, as well as the Grand Cross of Baden-Wuerttemberg. During his final years of retirement in Brighton Carlebach became closely associated with the newly established Centre for German-Jewish Studies at the University of Sussex and was awarded the title of Emeritus Professor of German-Jewish Studies. He died in Brighton on 16th of April 2001 at the age of 79.