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Oral history interview with W. Louis Cohn

Oral History | Accession Number: 1993.A.0087.14 | RG Number: RG-50.091.0014

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.

W. Louis Cohn, born in Berlin, Germany in 1925, describes having a younger sister, born in 1927 as well as an older brother; his father, Waldemar, who was an attorney with the German government; his father working from 1925 to 1931 in the German embassy in Nice, France; his mother, Lottie Epstein, who came from a prosperous family; his family moving to the outskirts of Berlin in 1937; being assimilated into German life and belonging to a Reform congregation; attending elementary school from 1931 to 1935 without problems and attending gymnasium from 1935 to 1938; being kicked out of school in November 1938 and attending an improvised Jewish school; antisemitism increasing; the deportation of men to concentration camps; his brother going to the US; being sent on December 10, 1938 with his 11-year-old sister and his ten-year-old cousin on a train to Holland, where his cousin's grandmother lived; missing the train and being sent to a refugee camp for two to three months, then a children’s home, and then to a camp near Utrecht; his mother finding then in May 1939 and taking them to Brussels, Belgium; attending school in Brussels for a year; being arrested by Belgian police in 1940; being sent to Paris, France then moved from camp to camp; finding his father in Gurs concentration camp; working in the censorship office at Gurs and being able to smuggle news out; getting caught smuggling letters; being deported to Mauthausen and escaping with some other young men in August 1942; going through France to Spain; being sent from Barcelona to Africa for basic training; going to England where he was trained in counter-espionage by the Office of Strategic Services; being assigned him to parachute into France and blow up wheels in a German motor pool; completing his task and searching for his sister and parents; finding his sister in a convent under the false name Elise Carpentier; returning to England and receiving further training from the US Army 82nd Airborne Division; parachuting into France on D-Day and being wounded on the beachhead; staying in a hospital for three days; fighting with the Allies in Northern France, Holland, and accompanying them into Berlin; going to his family's apartment building, which had been bombed and finding his family’s possessions, which were buried in the yard; losing all his family except his sister and his uncle’s family; going to Palestine, where he worked on a kibbutz and helped train the Haganah; having special status because he was a captain in the US Army and becoming a US citizen; going to Cleveland, OH in 1947 and attending college to become an engineer; marrying Lottie Wolff in 1951; believing he survived because he worked hard and took care of himself; receiving help from Quakers in Spain and counseling from Catholic chaplains during the war; and missing out on his youth but feeling that perhaps he learned something from the experience.

Interviewee
W Louis Cohn
Interviewer
Abraham Kay
Date
1984 August 16  (interview)
Language
English
Extent
3 videocassettes (U-Matic) : sound, color ; 3/4 in..
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of the National Council of Jewish Women Cleveland Section
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Record last modified: 2018-01-22 10:43:30
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn504955