Monday, September 14, 2015

Margot Kahn-Cohn (1922-)

Margot Kahn, daughter of Jonas Kahn and Melanie Klein, was born in Ingwiller, France on 14 July 1922 in Ingwiller, France. She trained to be a librarian and in 1945 married Jacques Cohn with whom she had three children: Elie, Ruth and Daniel.

When the German army invaded France, the Kahn family fled from Alsace to the south. Young, modest and quiet, Margot volunteered in the Orthodox youth movement Yeshurun, which established a center for producing study sheets on Jewish subjects, to be sent by mail from Limoges. She worked in the office of the main branch.

In 1942 the movement sent her to serve as a counselor in the children’s home that opened in Ussac in the Corrèze district. She worked there until the home was shut down and the children dispersed because of the danger of arrest. At that point Andrée Salomon, who coordinated the underground activity of the Jewish children’s aid society OSE (Oeuvre de Secours aux Enfants), contacted her and sent her to Lyon. There Madeleine Dreyfus, who was in charge of the OSE branch, gave Margot the task of finding safe houses for young Jews and visiting the former residents of the children’s home, who were now in hiding.

She worked with a constant awareness of the danger that threatened her, especially after Madeleine Dreyfus was arrested and deported to Bergen Belsen in November 1943. Margot continued her tasks without letup, displaying superb spiritual and educational capacities in dealing with the children in their hiding places. The friendships formed during that time grew stronger even after the war.

In spring 1944 Salomon sent her to accompany groups of children on the train from Lyon to Toulouse. Her task was to take them from their hiding place to another member of the underground so that they could be smuggled into Spain and from there to Palestine. Though it was painful for her to part with those of her comrades in the underground who were arrested or who joined the partisans, she never allowed this to interfere with her work.

Before Rosh ha-Shanah 1944, which fell several days after the liberation of Lyon, Margot succeeded in finding a Jewish family to host every one of her 30 charges. The day after the holiday she did a daring thing: without approval or cover from anyone she and Gaby Wolf, her comrade in the underground, rented an empty house in La Mulatière, a southern suburb of Lyon. They paid one month’s rent out of their own pockets and improvised lodging for the 30 youngsters so that they would not have to endure the discomfort of returning to the institutions and families that had taken them in before, where they had to pretend they were not Jewish. Though the leaders of the OSE reprimanded Margot and Gaby, they retroactively approved their act and made sure that the children would be spared any suffering.

Found at

No comments:

Post a Comment