Arnold was born in 1859, son of Yosef Frank, the head of the only Jewish family in Suja, Slovakia. Yosef Frank kept the Jewish holidays, and was respected by his Roman Catholic neighbours. Many of these were uneducated, and he became the recognised headman of the village to whom many came for advice and help.
Aaron was called after the high Priest of Israel, but was known by his German name, Arnold rather than Aaron. At the age of six he was sent to a Jewish scool in Rajecz, where he learned the traditions of his forefathers. At thirteen he was Bar-Mitzvah.
However, at sixteen Arnold traveled to Hamburg to seek his way in life. He never saw his father again.
Hamburg was a thriving port and busy commercial centre with a Jewish population of about 15,000. Wile there, he came accross the “jerusalem Church” and was attracted by the simple service and the fact that the building looked like a synagogue. He began to attend a class there and to read the Old Testament, particularly the Messianic prophecies. He became convinced that Jesus was the true Messiah and that he needed Christ’s forgiveness. A time of persecution followed, and he lost his position in the Jewish bank where he was working. His parents were deeply grieved, though apparently did not break off with him.
Arnold studied abroad, and eventually was ordained to the Pesbyterian ministry. He married Ella Louisa Kinghan, an Irish girl whom he met while she was studying in Germany. The young couple returned to Hamburg, where he began work with a missionary called John C. Aston, including the distribution of literature.
Frank was a founder-member of the International Hebrew Christian Alliance, founded in 1925, and hosted its second conference in 1927. In 1937 he was elected second president, following Sir Leon Levison. With the rise of Nazism, and the subsequent persecution of Jewish Christians, he was able to use his influence to arrange to help the Jewish Christians who had escaped from Germany. He was arrested in September 1937, but was released to house arrest after the intervention of the British Foreign Office. A few days later he received an anonymous telephone tip, and fled to Denmark, and from there to England. In 1939, at the age of 89, he retired. The Nazis had closed the Mission in Hamburg, but the hospital he had founded continued to function, though no longer owned by the mission. It wasn’t until 1950, after World War II, that Frank was able to revisit Germany and seethe extent of the damage to the property. The church was restored, and re-dedicated in 1953.
In 19543 a house was opened in West Berlin for elderly Holocaust survivors. One of the rooms is named after Arnold Frank.
Frank died in Belfast on March 19, 1965 at the age of 106 years and 14 days.
Allen, Robert. Arnold Frank of Hamburg. James Clark and Co, London. 1966
Bernstein, A. Jewish Witnesses for Christ. Keren Ahvah Meschichit, Jerusalem. New edition 1999.
Stevens, George H. Jewish Christian Leaders. Oliphant, London. 1966