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He was born in 1844, in Újlak (now part of Budapest, Hungary). Trained as a goldsmith, he first went to work in Germany in 1861, where he became involved with Ferdinand Lassalle's Allgemeiner Deutscher Arbeiterverein sometime between 1865-66. In 1867, he was appointed as the Paris correspondent for the Sozialdemokraten, a Lassallist journal published in Switzerland. In Paris he participated in the work of the First International, organizing German, Hungarian and other foreign workers within the city. Arrested in early 1870 for his political activity and being a member of the International, he was liberated by the revolution on 4 September 1870. During the Prussian Siege of Paris, he, along with other Internationalists, was highly critical of the Government of National Defense's efforts to oppose the Prussians. He also served as a member of the National Guard in defense of the city until its surrender to the Prussians on 28 January 1871.
On 26 March 1871 he was elected as a member of the Paris Commune. Upon the defeat of the Commune, wounded in its defence, the revolutionary escaped the impending death sentence to Switzerland. In 1871 he settled in London, where he joined the leadership of the First International.
He was extradited to Hungary by the Austrian police in 1876. From that point on, he was active organising the Hungarian workers' movement: he edited the German Language Arbeiter Wochen-Chronik and founded the Hungarian General Labour Party (1880) He was convicted and sent to prison for a year and a half for the infringement of the prevailing press law in 1881. Upon his release he emigrated to France once again.
He died in Paris in 1896. A commemorating obelisk was erected for him in Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.
- Hungarian Biography Encyclopedia, 1000–1990 (Hungarian)
- Biografías y Vidas (Spanish)
- Leo Frankel，1844—1896 (Chinese)
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