Holocaust survivor to talk about how she spied on Nazis

Marthe Cohn, now 95, helped Allies break through Seigfried line

Marthe Cohn, an author and Holocaust survivor, will talk about her experiences fleeing, fighting and living under Nazi rule during World War II at a lecture March 17 at the Bankhead Theater in Livermore.

Cohn, now 95, was a devoutly religious 19 year old French Jewish girl when the Nazis invaded France in 1939. Her life then took a turn so extraordinary that it could have been pulled straight from a Hollywood movie script, said Rabbi Raleigh Resnick, director of the Chabad of the Tri Valley, a Pleasanton-based Jewish community center that is sponsoring the lecture.

While the rest of Cohn's 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, was recruited to be a spy.

Carrying forged identification papers, she infiltrated German territory in the guise of a German nurse desperately searching for a fictional fiancé (by this time her real-life fiancé had been executed by the Nazis).

During the next year, she mingled freely with Nazi troops, on many occasions caring for injured Nazi soldiers in order to maintain her cover. She gathered invaluable information on troop positions which she secretly relayed to Allied commanders. Her intelligence gathering was instrumental in allowing the Allies to break through the Seigfried line and enter German territory in 1945, leading to the end of the war.

When, at the age of eighty, Marthe Cohn was awarded France's highest military honor, the Médaille Militaire, not even her children knew to what extent this modest woman had faced death daily 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 life for our community, especially for our youth," Resnick said. "It's literally touching such an important a piece of history."

Following the lecture, Cohn will be available to sign copies of her memoir, "Behind Enemy Lines: The True Story of a French Jewish Spy in Nazi Germany."

Tickets for the lecture start at $20. For more information or to purchase tickets, sign on to the Chabad's website at or call (925) 846-0700.


15 people like this
Posted by Lajoy Hauser
a resident of Canyon Creek
on Apr 3, 2015 at 7:48 pm

I know all the bad things that people had in World War II My husband was 19 years old when the United States declared war on Japan Dec.8/1844 He was in the U.S army Signal Corps 1942 1944 in the China, Burma and India theater serving with the Office of Strategic Service {OSS} as a Morse Code operator, decoder and radio transmitter behind enemy lines for 2 years The government did not pay him for 2 years because he with his captain and few men had to keep moving so would not be captured, they travel the Burma road then the rivers. His name is Richard Dewey Hauser and he did serve his country well. He received the following awards, the Asiatic-Pacific with 3 bronze stars, the honorable service lapel button WWII ,Victory Ribbon, American Defense, the Good Conduct Medal, The Grand Star of Honor and the China Memorial Medal from the Chinese Army. He pasted away Dec 8, 2010 Thank You Mrs Richard D. Hauser 4/3/2015 San Antonio, Texas \

2 people like this
Posted by Christopher Whippy
a resident of another community
on Apr 3, 2015 at 9:58 pm

What a woman

7 people like this
Posted by Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on Apr 4, 2015 at 2:21 pm

Thank you Mrs. Hauser for telling such an inspiring story.

Like this comment
Posted by marie smylie darling
a resident of another community
on Jun 7, 2015 at 5:28 pm

Thousand's of people owe their life to you for your bravery,as a young girl doing this work it must have been terrifying at time's,yet you soldiered on,by doing so,you helped bring the end to the war,Respect's to you.from the uk

2 people like this
Posted by Lajoy Hauser
a resident of Canyon Creek
on Jun 7, 2015 at 7:35 pm

I made a few mistakes in writing about my husband Richard D. Hauser in World War II The United State declared war on Japan Dec 8,1941, after they attacked Pearl Harbor Dec 7, 1941.Yes he was nineteen when he went in to the Army Reserves and the government sent him to the University Of Texas for classified radio and radar courses. As I said he was a Morse Code Operator, Decoder and Radio Transmitter with the OSS behind enemy lines The government put him in the Signal Corp trained at Camp Kohler then flew over the Himalayan mountains and arrived in Kunming China. was issued a carbine with 100 rounds and a gurkha knife. After 2 years in China, the United States Air Force dropped a single bomb on Hiroshima and destroyed the entire city. About 4 days later a second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki then the War was over. Harry Truman was President and if he had not done this the men in China would not be alive to tell this story because Truman knew that Germany had the atomic bomb. Richard got all the medals I said in the first comment. He got back to the United States January 1945 and saw the Statue Of Liberty, back to America thank God. Richard D. Hauser passed away December 8, 2010 As we all know many codes were broken, but not the Navajo code it was never broken. I honor all the men that served their Country in World War II so that we Americans could remain free. Mrs Richard Hauser

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