Isidore Franckel

Portrait of Isidore Franckel by Henryk Berlewi 1956
Charcoal drawing portrait by H. Berlewi 1956.  About the artist H. Berlewi in English; Land for Israel poster 1925

Header image: Shows Isidore Franckel speaking at dinner at Isidore Franckel’s apartment in Paris, France. Menachem Begin is sitting on the left with his wife Aliza Arnold to his right. Isidore Franckel is seen standing with his wife Lola Franckel to his right.

Maître Isidore Franckel (28 Novembre 1893 – 16 Février 1965) was a notable figure in Jewish history and a famous Parisian lawyer

Isidore Franckel’s father was Sasha Franckel, a landowner in Odessa, Russia, who sold lumber and owned a railroad built to transport his Willlumber, believed to run from Odessa to Romania. Isidore was a Commissar (a government official) in Russia. He was a friend of Ze’ev (Vladimir) Jabotinsky and one of the founders of Betar. As a Commissar, Isidore Franckel had the power to issue travel documents. When fleeing Russia, he issued travel documents to Jabotinsky, allowing him to travel to Palestine and to his own family to travel to Paris via Italy to Turkey and then Paris. Isidore Franckel was the founding leader of the Revisionist Movement Herut of France and President of the Zionist Federation of France. Isidore Franckel lived in Paris at 96 Rue Beaubourg until just after the Grynszpan incident (below) and returned to 96 Rue Beaubourg after World War II.

In 1925, while living in Paris, Isidore Franckel organized and founded with Jabotinsky the Central Committee of the Zionist-Revisionist, Hatzohar, or Ha-Zohar (see photo below). The first conference was in Paris, and Isidore Franckel became its first President. Hatzohar became the largest right-wing political organization in Israel at the time of its independence in 1948 and merged into Herut in 1951. The photo below shows the founding members at the first conference who came to Paris from all over the world, including America.

In Paris, Isidore Franckel attended law school at the University of Paris-Sorbonne and became a lawyer. Among many notable legal cases, Me. Franckel was the criminal defense lawyer for Herschel Grynszpan (see articles below), the Jewish refugee from Poland who went to the German Embassy in Paris, where he shot and killed Ernst vom Rath. Ernst von Rath’s killing was the pretext for Kristallnacht, also known as Crystal Night and the Night of Broken Glass (articles about the case are below). Grynszpan was first put on trial under the French Regime and was acquitted. Isidore Franckel hid Grynszpan in an old abandoned jail in the countryside, but he was found and taken into German custody, where he was in several German prisons and eventually disappeared.

When Grynszpan was found, Isidore Franckel received information that the SS would be coming for him, and he fled his Paris apartment during the night to the south of France with his wife and two sons, Alexander and Bernard. Dorothy Thompson (see Dorothy Thompson on Wikipedia) arranged through President Roosevelt for Isidore Franckel and his family to go to America. They left on a boat for the U.S. in the Spring of 1942, where Isidore Franckel lived on a chicken farm in Lakewood, N.J. Alex Franckel became a U.S. citizen on the day of his arrival in the U.S., inducted into the U.S Army and sent back to Italy. 

Upon returning to their Paris apartment in 1945, the Franckels were told by neighbors that the SS was at the Paris apartment a few hours after they left.  All of his family’s furniture had been taken. Some items were taken by neighbors and returned, but most were never seen again. Isidore Franckel’s law office desk, which was in his apartment, had been used for the signing of The Treaty of Versailles at the Palace of Versailles. It was one of only two such desks made. It was stolen by the Germans, and he never saw it again.

Isidore Franckel was one of the founders and French National Commander of the Irgun (list of Irgun Senior Commanders). Irgun Worldwide Commander Menachem Begin was also a friend of Isidore Franckel and often stayed at his apartment in Paris (see photos below).

Isidore Franckel received the Medaille Commemorative Des Services Volontaires Dans La France Libre from the Minister of the Army and is listed as one of the Leaders of a Free France.

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Isidore Franckel in his office Isidore Franckel lawyer for Herschel Grynszpan in court Article about Isidore Franckel leader of Herut, Former President of the Zionist Federation in France

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Photo of the First World Conference of Hatzohar – Union of Zionists-Revisionists (Alliance of Revisionists Zionists) in Paris 1925

photo of the Founding Meeting of Hatzohar - Alliance of Revisionists-Zionists

“The Zionist “right” was generally credited with a monolithic image: for its supporters, the national and political movement was the only one in Zionism that fought, without aberrations, for the establishment of a Jewish State” (Jewish Virtual Library: Zionism: Revisionist Zionism).

This historic photo shows the founders of the Revisionist Zionism movement in Paris in 1925 at the First World Conference of the Central Committee of Revisionists-Zionists, also known as Alliance of Revisionists-Zionists, Union of Zionists-Revisionists or Hatzohar. The Central Committee of Revisionists-Zionists was founded by Ze’ev (Vladimir) Jabotinsky (center row 7th from left) and Isidore Franckel (center row 3rd from left), who was President.

The approximately 11×14 photo was taken for Isidore Franckel and is the only known original photograph in existence. The original photo was given to Alex Franckel by Lola Franckel (maiden name Lola Rabinovitz) to make a copy for the newspaper Energie which requested a copy for the article about the 40th Anniversary of Hatzohar. Phil Franckel now has the original photograph and two photographed copies. The image above was scanned from a photographed copy of the original photograph. If anyone wants to use the image, please contact Phil Franckel.

Newspaper article – 40th Anniversary of Hatzohar

newspaper article about the anniversary of First World Conference of the Revisionist Zionism movement Alliance of Revisionists Zionists – Hatzohar

ENERGIE No. 26 Septembre 1965 (Paris, France)
The caption is in French and states:

The World Executive Herouth-Hatzohar has decided to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the creation of Hatzohar with utmost desire. It was in 1925 that was held in Paris, the World Conference which has proclaimed of the birth of the Zionist-Revisionist – giving the start to a long glorious time. At first, the Movement brought together a very small group of activists of who few survive. Our photo represents the Forefathers of which many have disappeared. In center and in back Vladimir Jabotinski, our friend Aron Propes who has received the title of Premier Betari of the world. On the line to the left (in light suit), our deceased comrade Isidore Franckel, then young French lawyer. In back to the left, standing on a chair, Albert Stara, young journalist. Among those who are not anymore: Ze’ev (Vladimir) Tiomkin and Zinovi Tiomkin, Meir Grossman (briefly mentioned here), Israel Trivus, Berchin-Benedictoff, le Dr Jacques Segal, le Dr A Ginsbourg, I Yevine.

I was told that the gentleman on the left in the middle row (leaning) was from the United States. If anyone knows who any of the other people are, please let me know.

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Menachem Begin at Isidore Franckel’s apartment in Paris

photo of Menachem Begin at dinner at Isidore Franckel's apartment

This was a dinner at Isidore Franckel’s apartment in Paris, France. Menachem Begin was a close friend of Isidore Franckel and would stay at Franckel’s apartment when he was in Paris. Menachem Begin is sitting on the left with his wife, Aliza Arnold, sitting next to him. Isidore Franckel is seen standing and speaking with his wife, Lola Franckel, sitting next to him on the right. Menachem Begin was elected Prime Minister of Israel in 1977 in an upset victory over Labor Party Chairman Shimon Peres.

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Menachem Begin with Isidore Franckel speaking at a conference
Menachem Begin is seen sitting on the left next to Isidore Franckel, standing and speaking in Paris.

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Menachem Begin speaking with Isidore Franckel at a conference back of photo with message from Menachem Begin to Isidore Franckel
Menachem Begin is speaking, and Isidore Franckel is seated 2nd from left.
Sent by Menachem Begin to Isidore Franckel written on both the front and back:
A mon cher Maître Franckel avec veritable amitié, M. Begin (translation: My dear Maître Franckel with true friendship, M. Begin)

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Menachem Begin at a meeting at Isidore Franckel’s apartment in Paris
Menachem Begin at Isidore Franckel’s apartment in Paris, France.

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Isidore Franckel speaking at conferences

Isidore Franckel speaking at a conference

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Isidore Franckel receiving an award
Unknown military officer and Isidore Franckel

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Isidore Franckel speaking at a conference Isidore Franckel speaking at a conference
Isidore Franckel speaking

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Isidore Franckel speaking at a conference with Menachem Begin on the right
Isidore Franckel speaking

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Menachem Begin speaking at a conference with Isidore Franckel on the left

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Isidore Franckel speaking

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Herschel Feibel Grynszpan

The following are some articles mentioning Isidore Franckel, who was the criminal defense lawyer for Herschel Feibel Grynszpan in the vom Rath killing. Two lawyers originally represented Grynszpan, but the family wanted a well-known lawyer. After attaining international coverage, many lawyers wanted the case, but the family retained Maître Isidore Franckel, who was the principal attorney for Grynszpan. Me. Franckel wanted a non-Jewish lawyer as co-counsel and brought in Moro-Giafferri. Contrary to what has been written, Moro-Giafferri was co-counsel and was not the principal attorney for Grynszpan.

(I have a copy of a French book about the Grynszpan incident, which mentions Isidore Franckel extensively throughout and will eventually be available here). Much has been written about what became of Herschel Grynszpan and whether he survived. I heard two stories, one from Isidore Franckel’s wife, Lola who was my grandmother, and the other from my father. Both my grandmother and my father said that Grynszpan was en route to the south of France when my grandfather, grandmother, father, and uncle fled to the south of France. My grandmother said that Isidore Franckel arranged for Grynszpan to be placed in a French prison after Grynszpan unsuccessfully tried to be taken in at another French prison (so the Germans would not find him), but someone informed the Germans of his location and he was taken by the Germans. My father said that he remembers Grynszpan turned himself in to French authorities in the south of France, and he was placed in a French jail where he was treated well, but someone informed the Germans, and he was taken by the Germans. My father says that he did not know what happened to Grynszpan until they were on the boat to the United States when they heard about it.

AXEL EGGELBRECHT, speaker de la radio allemande de zone britannique, vient de s’attirer un procès en présentant le diplomate allemand con Rath comme un résistant. C’est la famille de von Rath qui intente le procès.

Conseiller de l’ambassade d’Allemagne à Paris, von Rath avait été assassiné à la vielle de la guerre, par le jeune israélite Grynzpan.

– Le Conseiller, déclarait Egglebrecht, faisait passer par la valise diplomatique les fonds des juifs chassés d’Allemagne, Grynzpan aurait été victime d’une indélicatesse de von Rath au cours d’un de ces transferts. C’est pourquoi il l’a tue.

La famille de von Rath a porté plainte. Et en cherchant les preuves de sa thèse pour se defendre, le speaker allemand a trouvé un nouvel adversaire : Maître Franckel, le defenseur de Grynzpan.

L’avocat n’a jamais pu défendre son client. Arrêté, Grynzpan ne fut pas jugé. L’acquitter eût été mettre le feu auz poudres en irritant Hitler. Le condamner eût semblé une injure auz juifs persécutés.

Vint la guerre. Grynzpan élait à Fresnes. Avant l’arrivée des Allemands, on l’évacua sur Bourges. Le procureur général le libéra quelques heures avant l’entrée de Pennemi dans la ville.

Le fugitif se livra en apprenant par Radio-Vichy que le procureur alait être fusillé pour l’avoir libéré. Il est mort. par la suite, au camp de concentration de Sachsen hausen.

Maître Franckel a protesté contre les accusations d’Egglebrecht.
– L’acte de mon client, dit-il, élait absolument attirer l’attention mondiale sur le sort de ses coreligionnaires.

-Google translation
AXEL EGGELBRECHT, speaker of the German radio in the British zone, just to attract a trial with the German diplomat Rath as a con-resistant. The family of von Rath instituting the proceedings.

Consul to the German Embassy in Paris, von Rath was murdered in the old war, the young Jewish Grynzpan.

– Counsel, said Egglebrecht, was going through the bag the money of the Jews expelled from Germany, Grynzpan was the victim of an indelicacy of von Rath during one of these transfers. That’s why he kills.

The family of von Rath complained. And seeking evidence of his thesis to defend, the German speaker has found a new adversary: Master Franckel, the defender of Grynzpan.

The lawyer has never been able to defend his client. Arrested Grynzpan was not judged. The pay had been set on fire by irritating powders Auz Hitler. The sentence would have seemed an insult Auz persecuted Jews.
Then came the war. Grynzpan élait in Fresnes. Before the arrival of the Germans, we evacuated to Bourges. The Attorney General released a few hours before the entry Pennemi in the city.

The fugitive gave himself up learning by Radio-Vichy that the Attorney ALait be shot to be released. He died. thereafter, the concentration camp Sachsen hausen.

Master Franckel protested against accusations of Egglebrecht.
– The act of my client, he says, absolutely élait focus world attention on the fate of his coreligionists.

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Notice dated Jan 4, 1944, about Isidore Franckel, the famous French criminal lawyer, who defended the Jewish martyr, Herschel Greenspan, speaking in Toms River, NJ.

Notice advertising that Isidore Franckel, criminal lawyer for Herschel Greenspan to speak

Centrale Magazine Oct 1966 article about Herschel Grynszpan mentions his lawyer Isidore Franckel
Centrale Magazine Oct 1966 cover about Herschel Grynszpan
Centrale Magazine article page 1 about Herschel Grynszpan

Centrale Magazine article page 2 about Herschel Grynszpan

Centrale Magazine article page 3 about Herschel Grynszpan

An article, by the Jewish Chronicle in Great Britain on December 22, 1950, about the trial concerning Jean-Louis Schreiber, a Jewish child cared for by Christian Foster’s parents (also mentions Isidore Franckel, the lawyer for Hershl Grynszpan)
Article by the Jewish Chronicle about the trial concerning Jean-Louis Schreiber, a Jewish child cared for by Christian Foster parents

Newspaper article about the death of Isidore Franckel

Newspaper article about the death of Isidore Franckel with the spelling Isadore Frenkel, leader of the Revisionist Movement Herut in France, Vice President and former President of the Zionist Federation in France, and President of the Unit of Russian Jews in France, a colleague of Jabotinsky in the struggles within the Zionist Movement from the early 1920s and the lawyer defending Grynzpan in 1938 who killed von Roth which supplied the non-season with the pretext for “Crystal Night.”
newspaper article mentioning lawyer for Herschel Grynszpan

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Associated Press photo

Associated Press photo showing Isidore Franckel sitting outside Judge Berton’s chambers with the parents of a baby who was stillborn waiting to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against a medical midwife.

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With the Rothschilds in Paris

Isidore Franckel, wife Lola Franckel & son Bernard Franckel with the Rothschilds in Paris
The Rothchilds of France greeting the Franckels
Click the photo to see a larger image

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Commemorative Medal

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Book authored by Isidore Franckel in a showcase at The Museum of Jewish Art and History in Paris
(Official website The Museum of Jewish Art and History in Paris)
(photo by Daniel Zavlavsky)

book by Isidore Franckel

Book mentioning Isidore Franckel, defense attorney for Nadezhda Plevitskaya

Stalin’s Singing Spy: The Life and Exile of Nadezhda Plevitskaya

Mentions found in other books on Google Books

Le Monde juif – Issues 36-46 – Page 114

The American Jewish Year Book – Volume 45 – Page 560

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Philip L. Franckel in court with my grandfather Isidore Franckel

Phil Franckel in court with grandfather Isidore Franckel

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Condolence letters (PDF) from:

Menachem Begin
Solomon Friedrich – Director General, Comité Français Alliance France-Israel
S.J. Hofmann – Presidente de la WIZO de Paris
Albert Stara – Le President du Comité executif HATSOHAR Les SIONISTES REVISIONNISTES DE FRANCE
Eugene Weill – Secrétaire Général, Alliance Israelite Universelle
Marcel Bernfeld
V. Benveniste
Chevrei Hahanhala Haolamit
Isaac Schneersohn
Raoul Meyer – President Association Cooperation Economique France
Z. Loker – Consul Général, AMBASSADE D’ISRAEL
R. Ascot
Andre Dreyfus – World Jewish Congress
V. Benveniste
Walter Etyan – First Director General of the Foreign Ministry, Founded Israel’s Foreign Service
R. Ascot
Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael
Dov Milman – Irgun Commander of Jerusalem district battalion in 1940, later became an Israeli politician and diplomat who served as a member of the Knesset for Gahal.

I am looking for condolence letters, which I have seen many years ago, from Moshe Dayan, Golda Meir, and others.

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Links to information about Isidore Franckel:

Les Français Libres, de juin 1940 à juillet 1943 (The Free French, from June 1940 to July 1943):


Vallat à D. de – Mémorial de la Shoah:

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