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At age 24, with one sister already sent to Auschwitz and the rest of her Orthodox Jewish family in hiding in the French countryside, Marthe Cohn became a member of French Army Intelligence in 1944. Fluent in German, she crossed the border repeatedly, assuming the identity of a nurse searching for her missing fiancé. Then she would return to relay what she learned about Nazi troop movements to French intelligence.
For her bravery, she was awarded the Croix de Guerre in 1945, and several subsequent honors, including France’s highest military honor, the Medaille Militaire, in 1999. In 2002, she wrote about her experiences in Behind Enemy Lines: The True Story of a French Jewish Spy in Nazi Germany.
Cohn, now 97, is this year’s speaker at An Evening with a Holocaust survivor, Feb. 21, 7 p.m., at Colorado State University. The event, which is free and open to the public, will be held in the Lory Student Center Ballroom on campus. The annual event usually attracts 1,500 plus participants.
“With the recent events of hate and intolerance we have seen,” says Denise Negrete, president of Students for Holocaust Awareness Week, “the story of an ordinary human being doing extraordinary things for her country while experiencing the worst of humanity is very poignant, and even urgent.”
“The unique opportunity to hear living testimony from a survivor is rapidly disappearing,” says Rabbi Yerachmiel Gorelik, faculty adviser to several Jewish groups on campus, whose own family endured the Holocaust. “We are so very fortunate to have a survivor, at the age of 97, travel to campus to share her extraordinary story with our community.”
Holocaust Awareness Week
Cohn’s talk is part of the annual Holocaust Awareness Week at CSU, Feb. 16-22. All events are free and open to the public.
On Friday, Feb. 16, at 1 p.m., CSU students and staff will begin setting up the Field of Flags on the Lory Student Center Plaza, to represent the lives lost in the Holocaust.
On Monday, Feb. 19, at noon, in a lecture, “Discovering Grandma is a Holocaust Survivor,” Henri Kiovsky, a CSU student, will talk about learning that he was Jewish when he found out his grandmother survived the Holocaust.
Monday through Thursday, volunteers will read the names of those lost in the Litany of Martyrs, on the Plaza from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; in case of inclement weather, the reading will move inside the LSC.
On Tuesday, Feb. 20, The Zookeeper’s Wife, the 2017 film that tells the story of how a couple rescued hundreds of Jews by hiding them in their Warsaw zoo, will be shown at 7 p.m. in the Lory Student Center Theatre.
And on Friday, Feb. 23, together with the Field of Flags take-down, Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity will hold a Memorial and Walk to Remember at 1 p.m. on the Plaza or in the LSC Theater lobby, weather depending.
Holocaust Awareness Week events are presented by Students for Holocaust Awareness at CSU, co-sponsored by ASCSU, Hillel, Chabad, AEPI and SAEPI fraternity and sorority.
For more information, go to www.holocaust.colostate.edu or call 915-202-4008.