Behind Enemy Lines - Marthe Cohen

Sunday, January 29 @ 6 PM

The True Story of a Jewish Spy in Nazi Germany 

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Biography[from Wikipedia]

Marthe Cohn was born into an Orthodox Jewish family as one of seven children living just across the German border in France when Hitler rose to power. As the Nazi occupation escalated, Marthe’s sister was sent to Auschwitz while her family fled to the south of France.

In November 1944, after the liberation of Paris, Marthe Cohn enlisted and became a member of the Intelligence Service of the French 1st Army, commanded by Marshal of France Jean de Lattre de Tassigny. After 14 unsuccessful attempts to cross the front in Alsace, she crossed the border into Germany near Schaffhausen in Switzerland. As a nurse fluent in German, she assumed the identity of a German nurse and claimed she was searching for her missing fiancee. She would then crawl back across the Swiss border to relay the information back to the French intelligence. [1] She was able to report to her service two major pieces of information: that northwest of Freiburg, the Siegfried Line had been evacuated and where the remnant of the German Army laid in ambush in the Black Forest. [2]

After the war Marthe returned to France to pursue a career as a nurse, but in 1956, while studying in Geneva, she met an American medical student, Major L. Cohn, who was the roommate of a friend. Within three years, they were married and living in the United States. Now both retired, they had worked together for years, he as an anesthesiologist and she as a nurse. [1]

Cohn was decorated with the Croix de Guerre in 1945 with two citations (Decisions Number 134 signed by Le Lieutenant-Colonel Bouvet on August 9, 1945 & Number 1322 signed by Marechal Juin on November 10, 1945). In 1999, the French government awarded her the Médaille militaire, Decree Number 3465 MR 1999. [3] She was awarded the title of Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur, Decree Number 2702, MR 2004, by André Bord, the national veterans minister in 2002. In 2006, she was again honored by the Government of France with the Medaille of the Reconnaissance de la Nation.

In 2002, she co-authored with Wendy Holden a book about her experiences entitled, "Behind Enemy Lines: the True Story of a French Jewish Spy in Nazi Germany" and was published by Harmony Books. The book was translated in French by Helene Prouteau and published by Plon as well as Selection du Reader's Digest and The Editions Tallandier, a prestigious publishing house in Paris.