Thursday, January 19, 2017

Karoline Cohn

Author: Jonathan Harrison
As this video and this article show, a pendant uncovered at Sobibor has the date of birth (July 3, 1929) of a girl called Karoline Cohn, who was deported from Frankfurt to Minsk on November 11, 1941, according to testimony given by Sophie Kollmann in 1978, and to this entry in the Memorial Book. According to Yoram Haimi (in the video), the pendant was found in the area thought to be the women's undressing and shaving hut. Cohn would have been 12 when deported to Minsk, and 14 when the ghetto was liquidated and the survivors sent to Sobibor. The pendant is thus evidence that at least one Frankfurt Jew was gassed in Sobibor, having spent two years in the Minsk ghetto. Alternatively, if Cohn died in Minsk, it is feasible that the pendant passed from Cohn to another Minsk deportee who was killed in Sobibor. What is not feasible is that Cohn survived the war yet her pendant wound up in Sobibor.

8 comments:

arik said...

What about the claim that she is somhow related to Anne Frank? Is there any basis for that?

The Black Rabbit of Inlé said...

The suggestion that Cohn and Frank are related is, so far, based entirely on the fact that they were both born in Frankfurt, and the similarity of their pendants.

I've not been able to locate a photo of Frank's pendant, only a description from a webpage dating from 2006:

"A necklace that belonged to Anne Frank (Mazel Tow) with the engraving 12.6.1929 Frankfurt am Main"

It does sound very similar to Cohn's pendant, so much so; it seems likely that the pendants were made at the same time and given to the two young girls by someone who knew them both.

http://www.restitutiecommissie.nl/en/recommendations/recommendation_138.html

The Black Rabbit of Inlé said...

A few other descriptions of Frank's pendant:

"Annelies Marie Frank (thereafter known as Anne) was photographed by Otto that morning. The picture shows a crumple-faced infant with eyes tightly shut against the world. A few days later, when she was allowed home and a maternity nurse, Mrs Dassing, had been engaged to help out, everyone assembled for photographs on the balcony. It was a warm summer's afternoon, and the windows were thrown open wide, the flowers blooming in their pots on the ledge behind the small group, composed of Kathi with Margot on her knee, Mrs Dassing with Anne on hers, Edith smiling down at them, and their young neighbour Gertrud Naumann standing nearby with two other little girls. In honour of her birth, Anne had been given an infant's silver necklace, on which hung a triangular pendant. It was engraved on one side with a Hebrew inscription, and on the other, 'Lucky Charm, 12.6.1929, Frankfurt-am-Main'."

- Carol Ann Lee, Roses from the Earth: The Biography of Anne Frank, Penguin, 2000.

_________________________________


"Buddy Elias zeigt mir das Erinnerungsstück, das ihn besonders bewegt: Annes Geburtskette. Vorsichtig legt er die lange Silberkette mit dem Amulett in seine Hand und deutet auf den Anhänger. Auf der Rückseite steht: »Anne Frank, 12. Juni 1929, Frankfurt am Main«. Darüber sind die hebräischen Worte »Masel tov« eingraviert. »Viel Glück«. Dann dreht Buddy Elias das Amulett um, dort steht das Schriftzeichen »Chaim«. Es ist das Wort für Leben."

- Tim Pröse, Jahrhundertzeugen: Die Botschaft der letzten Helden gegen Hitler: 18 Begegnungen,
Heyne Verlag, 2016.

arik said...

Fascinating and undoubtedly important find, i hope historiens can find out more information about this particular item so it may shed some light on this.
Thank you for your reply and I'm looking forward to find more information relevant to this. In my eyes it is the closest thing to an an reputable evidence to what has happened in Sobibor death camp.

The Black Rabbit of Inlé said...

No worries, arik.

This is a page from the SS' list of the c.1042 Jews deported from Frankfurt to Minsk on 12.11.41 on which Karoline Cohn and her immediate family are listed:
http://www.statistik-des-holocaust.de/OT411111-5.jpg
Taken from here:
http://www.statistik-des-holocaust.de/list_ger_hhn_411112.html

Other listed members of her family who resided at the same address [10 Thomasiusstrasse, Frankfurt] are:
Richard I. Cohn - 29.7.84 [father]
Else S. Cohn - 19.9.95 [mother]
Gitta. S Cohn - 8.11.32 [sister]

In addition to the pages of testimony the YV identify in their article:
Richard: https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=897399&ind=2
Karoline: http://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=675273&ind=75

Sophie Kollmann [Karoline's cousin-once-removed] also submitted pages for
Else [her cousin]: https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=897664&ind=21
and Gitta: https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=1485182&ind=1

Kollman thought that they all been killed in Minsk, although that's not necessarily true.

On 29.7.42, the SS shot 2500-3000 German-Jews from the Minsk ghetto because they were unfit for work. On that day the Cohns' ages were:
Richard: 58
Else: 46
Karoline: 13
Gitta: 9

Due to their respective ages, perhaps Else was the only one to have survived that massacre [if the others hadn't succumbed to death already], and Else was still in possession of her daughter's pendant when she was deported from Minsk to Sobibor in October 1943.

Jonathan Harrison said...

Thanks. Yes, that's a plausible narrative. We need more information on how selections were done in Minsk for Wehrmacht labour and for the shootings (fitness, age and sex criteria).

arik said...

Thank you for helping us broaden our knowledge of the situation and accumulateven information which might help solve, or at least shed some light on the events leading to the medallion being found in Sobibor extermination camp.

I'm still Tring to get myself as much information as possible and I was wondering if any of you might help me with some troublesort that bothered me:
1. There can be found documents of the railroad transport systems which the Germans kept through out the war. Wouldn't it be possible to track down the transport that was sent from Minsk in the period of time that might reveal if she or someone related to her were on?
2. Do we even know when was the deportation from Minsk to Sobibor?
3. Is there any way to access the current or recent archologic surveys being done in Sobibor (last report I've found was of the 2013-14).
Once again, thank you for your reply and help. This website is absolutely amazing and does a hugh mitzvah in my opinion.

Jonathan Harrison said...

Arik, welcome and thanks. We know about the transports because some of the escapees from Sobibor were in those transports. Two were also documented by stenographer Helene Chilf. We don't have lists of the deportees.

On the archaeological surveys, I think the work on the women's undressing and shaving hut is the most recent part of the project, designed I think to unearth and map the route to the gas chambers.

One of the project supervisors has an email:

yoramhai@israntique.org.il