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The Lady was a Spy!



I recently read the book “Behind Enemy Lines” By Marthe Cohn, and really enjoyed it. Her story needs to be told. She was quite a strong, determined and brave woman. I found the book well written and a bit of a page turner. I really enjoyed the background she gave us of her life and family before, during and after the war. She was a delightfully humble woman as well. I really admired her and enjoyed her story. I wanted to share her with you and recommend her book.


Marthe Hoffnung Cohn was born in Metz, France on April 13, 1920. The family was devout in their faith, they were Orthodox Jews. She was one of seven children in a very loving and close family.


As the Nazi occupation escalated close to their home, the family escaped to the southern part of France. Marthe organized her family’s escape and provided false identification for them that did not have them marked as Jews, which was a death sentence at that point.


Her sister, Stephanie, was arrested and eventually sent to Auschwitz, for no real reason except that she was Jewish, and part of the resistance. The family experienced quite a bit of antisemitism that included an attach on their Synagogue in Metz. Her fiancé, Jacques Delaunay, a medical student was shot in 1943, along with his brother, for their part in the resistance.


Marthe studied to be a nurse at the French Red Cross school in Marseille. When she graduated she attempted to join the Resistance. Those attempts were in vain. They would not accept her. She was tiny, petite, intelligent, spoke three languages but she was a Jew and a woman. A double whammy for her.


She finally was able to enlist in the Intelligence Service of the French 1st Army where she crossed the border into enemy territory to bring back vital information to the French troops. She assumed the identity of a German nurse searching for her missing fiancé. She was fluent in German and she secured major pieces of information and saved many lives.


When the war ended she returned to France continue her nursing career. In Geneva, taking advanced courses in nursing and anesthesia, she met Major L. Cohn, they fell in love and married. He was an anesthesiologist and she a nurse anesthetist.


Marthe Cohn was decorated with the Croix de Gurre in 1945 with two citations for uncommon bravery. She was awarded the title Medaille millitaire in 2002. In 2006 she was honored again by the government of France with the Medaille of the Reconnaissance de la Nation.