Marthe Cohn, a member of the French Resistance during WWII, and the author of Behind Enemy Lines,”will share her story on Wednesday, May 3, at Bethlehem Chabad, 393 Delaware Ave., Delmar at 7 p.m.
Cohn, a French Jew, was 20-years-old when the Nazis invaded France in 1940. While the rest of her family fled south, she decided to fight back.
After graduating from nursing school, she joined the French Resistance, and because of her perfect German accent and Aryan appearance, she was recruited to be a spy. Armed with forged identification papers, she infiltrated German territory as a German nurse desperately searching for a fictional fiancé — by that time the Nazis had executed her actual fiancé.
During the next year, Cohn mingled freely with Nazi troops, on many occasions caring for injured Nazi soldiers to maintain her cover. She gathered information on troop positions, which she relayed to Allied commanders. Her intelligence gathering was instrumental in allowing the Allies to break through the Siegfried Line — a line of defensive forts and tanks built by Germany in northern France — and enter German territory in 1945, leading to the end of the war.
When, at the age of 80, Cohn was awarded France’s highest military honor, the Médaille Militaire, her children were surprised to learn that their mother had faced death on a daily basis while helping defeat the Nazi empire.
“As the number of Holocaust survivors dwindles, we feel it our duty to bring these individuals and their stories to our community,” said Rabbi Zalman Simon, director of Bethlehem Chabad.”
Admission will be $15 in advance and $20 at the door.