MOTL (MORTKHE-NOYEKH) FRANKENTAL (August 23, 1893-late December 1943)
He was born in Rodem (Radom), Poland. In 1903 he came to Lodz where he received both a Jewish and a general education. At age twelve he began to write poetry and stories in Hebrew. Until his death, in Lodz, he was the founder and director of drama circles and theatrical studios. From 1919 to 1939, he was a member of the central council of the Jewish Folks-partey (People’s party) in Poland and its candidate for various city posts. He debuted in print with poems in Romantsaytung (Fiction newspaper) in Warsaw (1907), and he later published poems, stories, one-act plays, features, humorous sketches, and folktales in Der shtrahl (The beam [of light]), Teater-velt (Theater world), Dos folk (The people), and Moment (Moment) in Warsaw; and Lodzher tageblat (Lodz daily newspaper), Nayer lodzher morgenblat (New Lodz morning newspaper), Folksblat (People’s newspaper), and Nayer folksblat (New people’s newspaper), among others, in Lodz. He served as editor of the monthly Der gedank (The idea) in Lodz (1922); and Grine bleter (Green leaves) in Lodz (1938-1939), the last literary journal in pre-Holocaust Lodz. His plays were staged by Yiddish drama circles on the Yiddish stage in Poland. In book form: Der shloflozer, a dramatisher etyud in eyn akt (The insomniac, a dramatic study in one act) (Lodz: Teater velt, 1912), 20 pp., second edition (1920); Di hofenung, fantazi in eyn akt (The hope, a fantasy in one act) (Lodz, 1912), 24 pp.; S’lebn ruft (Life calls) (Lodz, 1913), 27 pp.; Leb-kinder (Live, children) (Lodz, 1913), 24 pp.; A zun a shrayber (A son, a writer) (1916); Dramen (Dramas) (Lodz, 1923), 158 pp.; Nakht-shotns, dramatishe poeme in dray aktn (Night shadows, dramatic poem in three acts) (Lodz, 1929), 128 pp.; translator of E. Arzsheshka and Z. Przibilski, S’ibergerisene lid, dramatisher etyud in ayn akt (The interrupted poem, a dramatic study in one act) (Warsaw, 1927), 13 pp.; Kinder-libe, maysele in 4 aktn (Love of children, a story in four acts) (Lodz, 1921), 16 pp. One-act plays include: Di gastshpilern (The guest players) (Warsaw, 1927), 27 pp.; and Di debyutantn (The debutantes) (Warsaw, 1927), 27 pp. He edited and wrote all the works for the almanac, Lodzer gezelshaftlekhkeyt (Lodz society) (Lodz, 1938), 177 pp.
He was confined in the Lodz ghetto, and during the years of WWII he led a fight against the “emperor of the ghetto,” Chaim Rumkowski, who went so far as the cease providing him with his food allocation. He went mad from hunger and died.
Sources: Bal-Makhshoves, in Der fraynd (Warsaw) (October 22, 1912); Literarishe bleter (Warsaw) (March 29, 1929); Yizker, yidish shriftn (Remembrance, Yiddish writings), anthology (Lodz, 1946); Moyshe Flamboym, in Unzer lodzh (Our Lodz) (Buenos Aires) 3 (1947); B. Mark, Umgekumene shrayber fun di getos un lagern (Murdered writers from the ghettos and camps) (Warsaw, 1954), p. 161; Khayim Leyb Fuks, in Fun noentn over (New York) 3 (1957), see index; Zalmen Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater), vol. 5 (Mexico City, 1966), pp. 4504-9.
Khayim Leyb Fuks