Khayem ( Chaim) Frenkel Frenkl

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Khayem ( Chaim) Frenkel Frenkl

Lithuanian: Chaimas Frenkelis
Birthplace: Ukmergė, Ukmergė District Municipality, Vilnius County, Lithuania
Death: 1920 (68-69)
Immediate Family:

Son of Avigdor-Leib Frenkel and Feige-Sterne Frenkel
Husband of Dora Dvora Frenkel
Father of Jacob Frenkel
Brother of Abraham Frenkel; Matla Goldberg; Toibe Levin; Debora-Malka Mordel; Esther Potruch and 4 others

Managed by: Eilat Gordin Levitan
Last Updated:

About Khayem ( Chaim) Frenkel Frenkl

Khayem Frenkl (1851–1920)

Kh. Frenkl – a famous Jewish industrialist, one of the most successful businessmen in Lithuania – was born in 1851 in Ukmergė. At the age of sixteen, he started to learn at Volozhin yeshiva, however, did not finish it. Despite his parents' disapproval, Kh. Frenkl went to study the craft of tanning in Bialystok. After finishing the studies, together with his brother he opened a leather processing workshop in Ukmergė. The started business did not bring sufficient profit, thus Kh. Frenkl sold his share to his brother and went to look for a more favourable place for business. In 1879, he arrived in Šiauliai – a city which was situated in a strategically convenient place at that time as not long before that in 1871, a railway line was built through Šiauliai, that guaranteed a convenient access to Riga – an important trade centre of that time.

After arriving in Šiauliai, Kh. Frenkl purchased a tanning workshop in the outskirts of town, near Vilnius road (now Vilnius str.), where with a few hired workers he started the production. The workshop was located in several wooden buildings and all production was handcrafted.

At the end of the XIX c., the demand for footwear was increasing. The homemade shoes were changed to more comfortable shoes of industrial production. With the increasing demand, Kh. Frenkl skillfully developed the company's activity. The premises of little workshop were gradually expanding, the wooden buildings were changed by brick buildings, handwork – by modern equipment. Part of the surviving to the present day factory buildings were built namely at the end of the XIX c., when the factory was growing. The technical innovations (electricity, telephone, etc.) of that time often reached Šiauliai through Kh. Frenkl's factory. Kh. Frenkl was an innovator. He was interested in various new leather tanning and processing ways found in European laboratories and sought to adapt them to his factory. Thus, from Eastern Africa to Šiauliai arrived "mangrove" – the tree bark which was just started to be used for leather tanning in the world. When "mangrove" was started to be used, an exclusive product of Kh. Frenkl's factory appeared called "red treads", which distinguished not only in red colour gained during the process of production but most importantly – resistance to water.

Kh. Frenkl soon earned international recognition. In 1905, in the world exhibitions of Brussels and Paris the leathers of Kh. Frenkl's factory were recognized as the best and awarded the gold medal.

Before the First World War, Kh. Frenkl's factory reached the prosperity at its peak. In 1914, the factory's turnover was 15 mln. rubles. The biggest part of the production (about 80 per cent) was made of various types of leather for treads. About one thousand of workers were employed in the factory.

Kh. Frenkl's activity had the influence to economic strengthening and growth of Šiauliai. Following the successful example, other leather processing factories were established in Šiauliai (by the Nurokai, the Choronžickiai, the Rogalinai). Šiauliai became the industrial centre.

A successful activity by Kh. Frenkl's factory was interrupted by the First World War. The Frenkl family had to leave to Russia, later – to Germany. During the war, the factory was damaged. After the war, only Kh. Frenkl's son Yankev came back to Šiauliai to rebuild it. Kh. Frenkl did not see the factory created by him. He died in 1920.

Both Kh. Frenkl and his wife Dvoyre, the son Yankev, daughter-in-law Royze were famous as patrons and philanthropists. Till this day, there are survived buildings in the city built on the Frenkl's family funds. In 1908, Talmud Torah – the school for Jewish children was built (now Continuing Studies Institute of Šiauliai University, Stoties str. 11). The Frenkl supported the needy children who learnt at that school. They supported the building of Jewish old people's home (now Central Building of Šiauliai University, Vilniaus str. 88) and allocated the funds to keep the elderly as well as the building of Jewish hospital, which later became town hospital (now Šiauliai Dental Clinic, Vytauto str. 101). The Frenkl allowed to settle Šiauliai Hebrew gymnasium at their home, supported Šiauliai "Aušros" museum, other societies and organizations.

It is known, that the Frenkl family took care of their factory workers' welfare. In the factory, the firefighting team was working, there were medical station, canteen, reading room, the synagogue was built for factory workers. The Frenkl were constantly supporting the needy people and those who needed care. For the charity work, Kh. Frenkl's son Jacob was awarded Vytautas the Great Grade II Medal and Lithuanian Grand Duke Gediminas Grade IV Order.

In 1908, the Frenkl family built a dwelling house of secession style next to the factory (now Vilniaus str. 74). Since 1993, Šiauliai "Aušros" museum has been housed in it, which cared about its renovation, the surrounding area was tidied, the exposition dedicated to the former owners Frenkl is established in the building as well.

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Khayem ( Chaim) Frenkel Frenkl's Timeline

Ukmergė, Ukmergė District Municipality, Vilnius County, Lithuania
Age 69