H.V. Erfle was born on 11th April 1884 in Duerkheim, Germany. His father was Heinrich Johann Erfle (1848 - 1896), his mother Marie Erfle, nee Stolleis (1849 - 1923). H.V. Erfle married Ilse Rittner 1914 in Koenigshuette. They had a son and a daughter.
Erfles studies in Munich were finished with his doctoral thesis, dated 1st August 1907. He worked with the optical shop of Steinheil & Soehne until 1909, when he moved to Jena for the Carl Zeiss firm there. In that company he joined the telescope departement. He was promoted head of this departement in 1918 and his work improved the performance of the various optics then manufactured, mainly for military use. His published papers were on prisms and on algebraic formulae, but he also tried to broaden the knowledge of optics for all interested. His last work was mainly as a co-editor on the third edition of the 'Grundzuege der Theorie der optischen Instrumente', (Basics of the theory of optical instruments) published in 1924. Today the name Erfle is well known to amateur astronomers for the wide field eyepiece he constructed.
Erfle died 8th April 1923 in Jena.