Paweł Frenkiel

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A memorial stone for the leaders of ŻZW in the Warsaw Ghetto Paweł Frenkiel and Dawid Moryc Apfelbaum on ul. Dubois (Dubois Street) in Warsaw. (Part of the Memorial Route of Jewish Martyrdom and Struggle in Warsaw)

Paweł Frenkiel (sometimes also Frenkel, Hebrew: פאוול פרנקל; 1920–1943) was a Polish Army officer and a Jewish youth leader in Warsaw and one of the senior commanders of the Jewish Military Union, or the ŻZW. Although one of the most important leaders of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and the Jewish resistance in the months preceding April 1943, Frenkiel is also one of the least well known to historians, and both his earlier life and his ultimate fate are a subject of some controversy.[1]


Paweł Frenkiel was born in Warsaw, Poland. At the age of 18 he joined the revisionist Zionist youth movement Betar.[2]

Following the outbreak of World War II, German conquest of Poland and the start of German repressions against the Jewish population of Poland, he joined the Jewish Military Union and became one of its highest-ranking members. It is unclear what his exact capacity was.[3] Earlier publications and accounts by Tadeusz Bednarczyk,[4] Henryk Iwański and Kałmen Mendelson assert, that Paweł Frenkel was one of the deputies of JMU's commander Dawid Moryc Apfelbaum. However, other accounts, including those by Dawid Wdowiński[5] and Cezary Szemley suggest, that Frenkiel was indeed the leader of the entire organisation.[3] In recent years some historians went as far as to suggest that Apfelbaum did not even exist at all.[6][7]

In any way, it is probable that Paweł Frenkiel personally commanded one of the armed companies of armed fighters during the ill-fated Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1943. According to a widespread opinion he was killed in action while defending the headquarters of the Jewish Military Union at #7 Muranów Square. According to some other sources he was killed on 19 June 1943 in Grzybowska Street in Warsaw.[7]

A plaque in memory of Paweł Frenkel at 5A Grzybowska Street in Warsaw


  1. ^ Dariusz Libionka, ed. (2007). "Rozmowa z Józefem Grynblattem, członkiem Betaru i Żydowskiego Związku Wojskowego w czasie powstania w getcie warszawskim". Zagłada Żydów. Studia i Materiały (in Polish). Centrum Badań nad Zagładą Żydów Instytutu Filozofii i Socjologii Polskiej Akademii Nauk (3): 320–331. ISSN 1895-247X. Archived from the original on 2016-12-22. Retrieved 2016-12-22.
  2. ^ "Żydowski Związek Wojskowy". Encyklopedia Powszechna PWN (in Polish). Warsaw: PWN. 2005.
  3. ^ a b Marian Apfelbaum (2007). Two Flags: Return to the Warsaw Ghetto. Gefen Publishing House. pp. 56, 61. ISBN 9789652293565.
  4. ^ Życie codzienne warszawskiego getta; warszawskie getto i ludzie (1939-1945 i dalej) [Everyday life of the Warsaw Ghetto: Warsaw Ghetto and its people] (in Polish). Warsaw: Ojczyzna. 1995. ISBN 8386449020.
  5. ^ David Wdowinski; Chaim Lazar (1985). And we are not saved. Morris Chariton (2 ed.). New York: Philosophical Library. ISBN 0802224865.[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ Dariusz Libionka; Laurence Weinbaum (2007). "Pomnik Apfelabuma, czyli klątwa "majora" Iwańskiego" [Monument to Apfelbaum, or the curse of "Major" Iwański]. Więź (in Polish) (4): 100–111. ISSN 0511-9405.
  7. ^ a b Dariusz Libionka; Laurence Weinbaum (2011). Bohaterowie, hochsztaplerzy, opisywacze: wokół Żydowskiego Związku Wojskowego [Heroes, Hucksters, Story-tellers: On the Jewish Military Union] (in Polish). Warsaw: Stowarzyszenie Centrum Badań nad Zagładą Żydów, Polish Academy of Sciences. pp. 534–535. ISBN 9788393220281. The controversy surrounding Apfelbaum's existence discussed.

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