Scandinavia Special Interest Group (SIG)

Forgotten Fragments of the History of the Fraenkel Family

PREFACE to the first edition

My brother John Frænkel published a small book in memory of my father in 1948, the 80th anniversary of his birth; it was called "Louis Frænkel - A Dynamic Idealist and Pioneer". There was one thing, however, which was not mentioned in it, namely my father's interest in, and work on, the family history.

In memory of the centenary of Dr. Louis Frænkel's birth I started to assemble the extensive material that he left concerning the various branches of the family before they came to Denmark.

This also comprised material for a genealogical table of my father's ancestors and the subject encouraged me to do further research into the family's history so that there are new 10 genealogical tables and the centenary is long past.

It is obvious that family history should be preserved for the family in particular, but as this material throws light on various personalities and also mentions facts concerning the changing conditions of the Jews - especially in the German principalities during the 17th and 18th centuries - it may perhaps interest wider circles.

Whilst working on this material I realised that, as so many sources have been lost in Nazi-Germany, every known fact could be of value.

Another thing which prompted me to publish this material was that the authors of the Nazi period published tendentious and distorted accounts based on biased documents - which of course were readily available at the time - especially as this tendency can still be found in post-war Germany in research works on the subject (see footnote 12).

The forgotten fragments of the title apply especially to the Danish language for in German and English the source material is very extensive, in particular that concerned with the colourful personalities of this book. See list of references at the back.

Many of the original papers have now completely disappeared and others can only be found in special Judaic libraries.

Many of the people mentioned in the genealogical tables were well known names in their country, such as the dynasties of court financiers (the families Oppenheimer, Wertheimer, Gumperz, Behrens, Lehmann, Itzig, Gans, David, Fränkel, Ephraim, etc.) who came to play important roles both for the German states during these centuries and for the people of their own creed.

To the best of my knowledge only small fragments of genealogical tables of these families have been published before. The ones given here, which are based on abundant sources, comprise more than 5.000 people and the data is subject to the inaccuracies and imperfections which are inevitable in this type of work.

The name found in older Jewish families are known to be very inconsistent which makes the research difficult. Besides changing name from generation to generation, several names sometimes exist for the same person. This is at times due to a person's activities in very different spheres (e.g. a Hebrew name within the synagogue and on grave stones and on official name in business life) and at other times changing experiences and successive places of residence suggested these changes of name. Town names were often used in connection with the fore-name. When a person has several names, these are therefore added in brackets in the genealogical tables and the official name, in so far as this is known, is not in brackets.

I know that my father has been helped immensely in the preparation of his family tree by the late librarian, Mr. Josef Fischer, and that he has received advice from the German genealogists Dr. Max Freudenthal and Dr. Eduard Duckesz. Personally, I owe a debt of gratitude to the librarian, Mr. Julius Margolinsky, for his help in the continuance of this work and also to the library assistant, Mr. Siegfried Heimann. In connection with assistance in the publication I would like to thank the Carlsen-Lange Foundation, the V. Giese Trust and the Doctor Kjeld Andersen and wife Ebba Andersen nee Kielberg Trust.


In order to give the background to the epoch I would like to outline the situation of the Jews in Western Europe at the time.

There were two events which were of decisive importance, namely the banishment of the Jews from the Iberian Peninsula and the Thirty Years' War.

In the small German and Austrian states of the late Middle Ages, where Catholics and Protestants alternatively held the power, Jews formed small minorities fought by both the other parties.

For several centuries restrictions had limited the activities of the Jews to such an extent that they could only earn their living by the simplest retail business, door to door sales or by money-lending. They had been reduced by this to being a backward, insignificant people. Life in the ghetto concentrated on religion. Learning meant exclusively the study of religious writings. The alienation from the outside world increased continually - even the language diverged more and more from that of the surroundings.

In Spain and Portugal, however, religious tolerance flourished for a longer period and in these countries the Jewish population belonged to the cultural elite.

This situation came to an abrupt end with the religious fanaticism of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella who, with their impracticable demand that all Jews be converted to Christianity, caused most Jews to emigrate from Spain at the end of the 15th century and from Portugal a few years later.

The emigration of this elite meant an increased prosperity for the countries which received them. Many went to the Mediterranean countries, to Holland and to some German principalities. Under Frederik II of Denmark some Jews got permission to settle in Altona and Christian IV invited 1622 Sephardic Jews (descendants of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews ) to settle at several places in Holstein.

The Thirty Year's War had devastated the German-Austrian areas. After the Peace Treaty of Westphalia the states had to be rebuilt. Old laws and restrictions had partially disintegrated and the states needed all the vigour they could muster.

In this way the Jews got their chance to participate. Gradually their conditions improved, the small tradesmen of the ghetto becoming wholesalers and manufacturers.

A few personalities had the ability and the energy to work their way out of the restricted circles of the ghetto and into high princely ones.

They formed the peculiar institution of "Court Jews" who - under various titles i.e. Court Factors, Chamber Agents and, the most distinguished of all, Residents - were employed by the princely houses, particularly to provide capital, but also to supply goods to the Court and army (and also to supply soldiers) and in special cases to undertake diplomatic missions. From the late Middle Ages to Baroque was the transition period in which the small German states moved towards absolute monarchy, each prince striving to outshine the others' extravagant Court life, new castles and military armament, all of which required large funds.

In the Middle Ages banking had been dealt with chiefly by non-Jewish Italians; but the new, large demands for capital were so risky that the Court had to seek other sources. The wealthy Iberian Jews and the Court Jews, who had risen from the German ghettos as mentioned above, were able to help. These families gradually formed a financial aristocracy and, like dynasties, they intermarried.

They nearly all learnt that the risks involved in these loan transactions, in any case in the long run, really were so formidable that bankruptcy was the natural conclusion. The difficulties were many and large, but the reason for bankruptcy usually was that the borrowers, in general the princely houses against whom the lenders had no power, did not repay their debts. Bankruptcy ensued when a financing house had to recover outstanding debts to immediately cover a credit demand on the death of the owner (e.g. Samuel Oppenheimer in Vienna) or alternatively when false accusations were made (e.g. the brothers Behrens in Hanover as described in this book).

These hazardous circumstances did not improve until the time of Napoleon when the Court Jew institution gradually disappeared and the large banks constituted as limited companies took over the money market.

There is a famous and frequently quoted source describing the Jewish ghetto circles in Germany from the time shortly after the Thirty Years War, namely Glückel von Hameln's memoirs. They are of special interest to our family, because Glückel was the sister-in-law of our ancestress Jente Hameln and therefore many of the members of our family are mentioned in the book.

Many of Jente's descendants in Germany have played important roles in culture and commerce. Among the names with an international ring I can mention the philologist Jakob Bernays, the Goethe scholar Michael Bernays, the poets Heinrich Heine, Paul Heyse and Karl Wolfskehl, the dramatist Carl Sternheim, the philosophers Theodor Lessing, Israel Jacobson and David Friedländer, the composer Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, the orientalist Oppert, the art historians Max Friedländer and Aby Warburg, and the Nobel prize winner in chemistry Adolf von Baeyer.

In the genealogical and family trees it is shown that the ancestors who first came to Denmark were those who, under Frederik II, settled in Altona and that the first person who settled in Denmark proper was Mayer Goldschmidt who moved from Hamburg to Copenhagen in 1683 where he, together with his partner the Court jeweller Israel David, founded the Jewish community in 1684.

Copenhagen 1975 HENRY FRÆNKEL


PREFACE to the second edition

When FORGOTTEN FRAGMENTS had been published in 1975 Henry Frænkel continued his work on its various genealogical tables. Henry Frænkel died in 1992 at the age of 92 and he left these extended genealogical tables in the shape of a manuscript very nearly ready for printing.

The material for the tables is based on extensive correspondence with present-day descendants of the families mentioned in these family trees. This correspondence has provided references to recent and older genealogical literature with persons who were not previously known to Henry Frænkel and who have now been entered into the genealogical tables. New and present-day living persons were added.

After adaption of the older and more recent Jewish genealogical literature and other information, the number of people in the tables has more than doubled and now comprises 595 years (1397-1992). Henry Frænkel felt that it was imperative to complete the information on previous and the younger generations. Corrections and insertions resulted in a total of approximately 11.000 names. The number of people in the register together with cross references is now approximately 17.000.

Furthermore, Henry Frænkel wished that the Second Edition should, as far as possible, be presented in a similar way to the First Edition and this has meant that newer and more modern methods for reproducing the genealogical tables could not be used.

The text itself has not been changed, apart from correction of obvious mistakes, misunderstandings and printing errors.

The information and source material collected by Henry Frænkel and his father, Louis Frænkel together with the correspondence, have been transfered to Det Danske Rigsarkiv (the Danish State Archives) where it can be found under the archive designation: Privatarkiver, Henry Frænkel nr. 7353, Louis Frænkel nr. 8036, john Frænkel nr. 8054. In the notes to this book reference will sometimes be found to material "in my possession". After Henry Frænkel's death this material was transfered to the Danish Jewish Museum in Copenhagen or included in the above-mentioned private archives of Det Danske Rigsarkiv.

Copenhagen, the 23 of may 1999

Georg Simon


According to Henry Frænkel's will, his book should be published again in a second and extended edition and it is in accordance with this wish that the Executors of the will now issue a second edition of the book such as it existed when Henry Frænkel died in June 1992. The genealogical tables were thus finalized on his death and no further additions have been made after this date.

Lecturer Georg Simon has been in charge of sorting and re-arranging the very comprehensive material, setting out and transcription of the index and the co-ordination of the publication. The text has been re-written by Streg & Tekst, Copenhagen, Gert Lob has proofread the book and Malene Woodman has translated it into English. The Executors would like to thank these people for the enthusiasm and conscientiousness which they have given to the task.

Henry Frænkel conveyed his gratitude to the many people who gave him material and information since the publication of the first edition and the Executors now repeat his own words: "I should like to express my deep gratitude to all the people who have supplied me with material and information since the publication of the first edition."

Copenhagen, the 23 of may 1999

Thor Andersen, Allan Hannover


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