NISN FRANK (1889-July 12, 1943)
He was born in Mariampol (Marijampolė), Suwalk region, Lithuania. He studied in a “cheder metukan” (improved religious elementary school). At age fourteen or fifteen, He was sent to the land of Israel and studied there for several years in the agricultural school of the Alliance. He lived for three years in Cairo, Egypt. He founded there with his friends the “theatrical association” and staged Yiddish plays. Later, he lived in Paris until his death. He was a cofounder of the culture league of the first world Jewish culture congress in Paris in 1937. He began writing (using the pen name “SPECTATOR”) in A. M. Lunts’s Luḥot (Calendars) in Jerusalem in 1906, and thereafter he published literary notices in the French press, such as: La bourse égyptienne in Cairo (1908-1910). Under the influence of Avrom Reyzen, in 1910 he switched to Yiddish. He contributed to: Reyzen’s Der nayer zhurnal (The new journal) in Paris; Dos naye land (The new land) and Der tog (The day), from 1922, among others, in New York; the Paris correspondent in 1913 for Moment (Moment) in Warsaw; Di tsayt (The times) in London. In Der tog, aside from his series “Gan-eyden mayselekh” (Tales from the Garden of Eden), he published “Parizer briv” (Letters from Paris) on political, community, and literary artistic themes. He was editor of Dos parizer lebn (The Parisian life) in 1923 and co-editor of Parizer bleter (Parisians pages) (1923-1926). From 1927 until WWII, he was one of the principal contributors to Parizer haynt (Paris today). He also published in the latter translations from French prose and his own novels, such as Rashel (Rachelle), Dos lebn ruft (Life calls), and Yidishe tekhter (Jewish daughters), among others. In book form: Der zig (The victory), one-act play (Paris, 1911), 16 pp.; Bon, di geburts-shtot fun bethoven (Bonne, the city of Beethoven’s birth), travel impressions (Paris, 1922), 16 pp.; Parizer motivn (Parisian motifs) (Paris, 1924), 75 pp. He also wrote under such pen names as: Spektat and Haminus. When the German seized Paris in WWII, he left to join the underground resistance movement. He was the organizer of “Arkhiv” (Archive) which collected documents of Nazi violence against Jews and lists of the victims at Drancy, and he himself administered questionnaires among the survivors, Jewish prisoners of war, those who returned from camps, and those who escaped transports. He was also involved in the actions to save Jewish children, and during one such action he died of a heart attack.
Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 3; Biblyografishe yorbikher fun yivo (Bibliographic yearbooks from YIVO) (Warsaw, 1928), see index; Dr. Y. Shatski, Arkhiv fun yidishn teater (Archive of Yiddish theater) (Vilna-New York, 1930), p. 498; Avrom Reyzen, in Tsukunft (New York) (June 1930), pp. 404-7; M. Volfes, in Unzer vort (Paris) (August 31, 1945); M. Borvin-Frenkel, in Unzer shtime, jubilee issue (Paris) (November 1955); information from Arn Alpern in New York.
Khayim Leyb Fuks