Behind Enemy Lines: The True Story of a French Jewish Spy in Nazi Germany

Behind Enemy Lines: The True Story of a French Jewish Spy in Nazi Germany

Marthe Cohn, Wendy Holden

Language: English

Pages: 304

ISBN: 0307335909

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Marthe Cohn was a beautiful young Jewish woman living just across the German border in France when Hitler rose to power. Her family sheltered Jews fleeing the Nazis, including Jewish children sent away by their terrified parents. But soon her homeland was also under Nazi rule. As the Nazi occupation escalated, Marthe’s sister was arrested and sent to Auschwitz. The rest of her family was forced to flee to the south of France. Always a fighter, Marthe joined the French Army.

As a member of the intelligence service of the French First Army, Marthe fought valiantly to retrieve needed inside information about Nazi troop movements by slipping behind enemy lines, utilizing her perfect German accent and blond hair to pose as a young German nurse who was desperately trying to obtain word of a fictional fiancé. By traveling throughout the countryside and approaching troops sympathetic to her plight, risking death every time she did so, she learned where they were going next and was able to alert Allied commanders.

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. At its heart, this remarkable memoir is the tale of an ordinary human being who, under extraordinary circumstances, became the hero her country needed her to be.

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for his efforts on my behalf. Particular thanks go to British author Wendy Holden, who took over the cowriting from Suzanne when she left to attend rabbinical school. In just eight months, our collaboration resulted in the growth and transformation of that initial chapter into a fully completed book. Thank you, Wendy, for your unusual empathy, patience, and understanding. By now you probably know more about my life than any of my close friends. I am also grateful to Harmony Books for their

my trials getting into nursing. “It’s so good to see you, Jacques,” I whispered, kissing him tenderly once more. “I wish we could stay like this forever.” He, in turn, told me the news from Poitiers, of his parents’ dramatic escape from Indochina, and how his younger brother Marc had become very active politically. He brought greetings from Dedé, too, who sent word via Jacques that he hadn’t heard from Stéphanie since her deportation, either. Before we knew it, the first streaks of light were

not impressed. “Even more of a reason to fight the Germans,” he said. “Anyway, I’m not talking about your fiancé, mademoiselle, I’m talking about you. Why didn’t you just go out and kill Germans wherever you could, regardless of any so-called structure?” No matter how I tried to tell him of my attempts to join the Resistance, or how my family had been helping people escape across the border, he remained singularly unimpressed. “This is no place for you,” he told me sneeringly. “Why don’t you go

German post you feel that you’re in any danger whatsoever,” he told me, taking me firmly by the shoulders, “then you should scream and shout as loud as you can. I’ve instructed a group of my men to watch out and intervene if necessary. They’re commandos, remember, and would love to rescue you, so you’re not to be afraid. I want you to return safely from this mission.” He kissed me good-bye on both cheeks and tears welled in his eyes. He turned away in the hope that I hadn’t seen them. Somehow,

bolted, and not a soul was about. A stiff breeze blew litter toward me. Somewhere close by I could hear the distinctive squeaking of tank tracks. A few hundred feet ahead of me a French tank suddenly turned into the boulevard and came trundling toward me. Taking up every inch of its exterior were German POWs, clinging to it, placed there by the French to prevent German guns from firing upon it. Inhaling deeply, I stood in the center of the boulevard, directly in the path of the tank. The POWs,

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