Jewish woman to tell stories of spying on Nazis

 TIM JEAN/Staff photRabbi Asher Bronstein of the Chabad Lubavitch Jewish Center of the Merrimack Valley in Andover. 

Had Marthe Cohn been captured, she surely would have been executed, and probably in a torturous way.

Cohn served as a spy in Nazi Germany during World War II – and she is a Jew.

Cohn survived her dangerous assignment and will tell her story at the Haverhill campus of Northern Essex Community College on Aug. 22. Chabad of the Merrimack Valley, located in Andover, arranged her visit. Several law enforcement leaders have endorsed this event.

Cohn is 99, but still has the drive and passion to talk about her experiences. She joined the French Army after the liberation of Paris and was recruited for an intelligence assignment because she could speak fluent German.

After 13 unsuccessful attempts, she managed to cross the border into Germany, where she posed as a German nurse who was looking for her fiancé.

She obtained information about German troop movements that proved valuable to the Allied forces, such as the abandonment of the Siegfried Line and the deployment of soldiers in the Black Forest for the purpose of staging an ambush.

Cohn wrote a book, “Behind Enemy Lines: The True Story of a French Jewish Spy in Nazi Germany.” She eventually moved to the United States.

Rabbi Asher Bronstein, leader of Chabad of the Merrimack Valley, said Cohn’s story shows how one person can make a positive difference for many people. The intelligence Cohn obtained has been credited with shortening the war.

Her message, he said, is needed because there is so much hatred in the world today.

“They do not realize they are empty,” he said of those who have become so afflicted with bigotry and contempt for others that they commit horrific acts of violence.

The public is invited to Cohn’s presentation, which will start at 7 p.m. in room 103 in the David Hartleb Technology Center. Tickets cost $20 per person and can be purchased online by visiting chabadmv.com/worldwar2lecture.

Tickets can also be bought at the door. Law enforcement officers and students are invited to attend free of charge.

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