Holocaust survivor will speak at West Shore

April 23, 2013

marthe cohn 1VICTORY TWP. — Marthe Cohn will be the featured lecturer at the West Shore Community College Shoah Remembrance event on Wednesday, May 1, 12:30 p.m., at the WSCC Center Stage Theater.  The Shoah is the Hebrew word for the Holocaust.

Born in Metz in the Lorraine region of France in 1920 into a Jewish family, Cohn bears witness to a period of time when a democratic republic falls prey to fear and succumbs to the anti-Semitism of Nazism. Cohn, age 93, is a Holocaust survivor and will share her incredible story with students and others in a free, open-to-the public presentation.

marthe cohn 2Cohn, who served her country as a soldier and spy behind German lines during WWII, will tell her story, as recounted in her autobiographical book, “Behind Enemy Lines.” Cohn’s story is a lesson in courage, faith, and heroism, and is a perfect way to commemorate The Shoah,” according to event organizer Dr. Rick Plummer, WSCC Arts and Humanities division chair.

Cohn was a beautiful young Jewish woman living just across the German border in France when Hitler rose to power. Her family sheltered Jews fleeing the Nazis, including Jewish children sent away by their terrified parents. But soon her homeland was also under Nazi rule. As the Nazi occupation escalated, Marthe’s sister was arrested and sent to Auschwitz. The rest of her family was forced to flee to the south of France. Always a fighter, Marthe joined the French Army.

As a member of the intelligence service of the French First Army, Marthe fought valiantly to retrieve needed inside information about Nazi troop movements by slipping behind enemy lines, utilizing her perfect German accent and blond hair to pose as a young German nurse who was desperately trying to obtain word of a fictional fiancé. By traveling throughout the countryside and approaching troops sympathetic to her plight, risking death every time she did so, she learned where they were going next and was able to alert Allied commanders.

When, at the age of 80, Cohn was awarded France’s highest military honor, the Médaille Militaire, not even her children knew to what extent this modest woman had faced death daily while helping defeat the Nazi empire. At its heart, this remarkable story is the tale of an ordinary human being who, under extraordinary circumstances, became the hero her country needed her to be.

Seating will be limited at the event, so Plummer encourages those wishing to attend to arrive early to be assured of a seat.

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