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Join Chabad Young Professionals - Midtown for an exclusive evening with Marthe Cohn. Marthe will share her escape from Nazi-occupied France and her time as a WWII spy, posing as a young German nurse with a fictional fiancé. Come meet Marthe and hear her remarkable story of courage, wit & integrity. A tale of an ordinary human being who, under extraordinary circumstances, became the hero her country needed her to be.

Tuesday January 29 | 6pm Cocktails | 6:45pm Talk

Moderated by journalist Zachary Fagenson whose work appears in Reuters, the Chicago Tribune, Vice, Miami New Times and others. 

Marthe's book, Behind Enemy Lines, will be available for purchase.

 

Marthe Cohn was born into a large Jewish family in Metz, France in 1920. She was a young woman living near the German border when Hitler rose to power, sending her once tranquil world into horrific disarray. As the Nazi occupation escalated, Marthe’s sister was sent to Auschwitz while her family fled to the south of France. 

Following the liberation of Paris in 1944, Marthe chose to fight back and joined the intelligence service of the First French Army. With her perfect German accent and Aryan appearance, Marthe posed as a German nurse desperately looking for word about her fictional fiancé. She traveled the countryside and approached troops sympathetic to her plight, obtaining critical information that she relayed back to Allied commanders by crawling across the Swiss border in the dead of night.
For her bravery, Marthe, now 98, was awarded the Croix de Guerre and Médaille Militaire. When at age 80, Cohn was awarded France’s highest military honor, the Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur (Legion of Honour), not even her children knew to what extent this modest woman faced death daily to defeat the Nazis, and indeed the world didn’t know until 1996.

In 2002 Marthe penned her memoir, “Behind Enemy Lines: The True Story of a French Jewish Spy in Nazi Germany.” On Tuesday, January 29, Chabad of Midtown Miami will host Marthe Cohn as she tells her incredible story, and we caught up with Marthe for a quick glimpse into her amazing life.

How did you gather the courage to join the intelligence and enter Germany when you knew of the danger and horrors?

“There was no danger. Whether you’re Jewish or not, you can only be killed once. I had decided to join the army well before Paris was liberated, and when they marched into the city I cried with joy. Still, it was very difficult to join, I didn’t have the right documents, and everybody who was living in occupied France had to prove they didn’t collaborate with the Germans. How do you prove something that didn’t happen? Later, a colonel of the regimen learned I could speak French and German, and at the time any man in Germany on the street in civilian clothes was arrested so the best (intelligence officers) had to be women.”
Tell us about your training to join the intelligence service?

“I learned how to recognize the German army from the air force or the navy. I had to recognize any buses, any signs, any little thing that they were doing to know what kind of military personnel I was talking to. I had to learn how to code, how to decode, how to read a map, how to use and fix any gun, in the cold, in the forest.  It was a lot to learn and I studied day and night.” 
Why did you wait so long to tell you story to the world?

“When you’re in the intelligence service you’re brainwashed to be extremely secret and as a woman I know how to keep a secret. The other reason is when you are in the secret service you have no documents at all from the army. I had to go in 1998 to Pau, a town in france, where the military archives are kept. I had an appointment and they gave my documents, but before then I had no documents showing that I was even in the army so how can you talk about things?”