fbpx MARIANNE COHN | HEROES OF THE RESISTANCE Skip to main content

MARIANNE COHN

I shall betray tomorrow, not today. 

Today, pull out my fingernails, I shall not betray. 

You do not know the limits of my courage, I, I do. 

You are five hands, harsh and full of rings 

Wearing hob-nailed boots. 

I shall betray tomorrow, not today.

 

Back

The above is an excerpt from a poem written by Marianne Cohn whilst incarcerated in a Nazi prison in 1943. She would be murdered at the age of 22 for smuggling Jewish children out of France into Switzerland. 

Born in Mannheim, Germany to a Jewish family, the Cohns fled their home country during the 1930s, eventually settling in France. Marianne joined the French Jewish Scouts (EIF), a group that would offer her family protection with the onset of the war. 

Marianne Cohn
Marianne Cohn

Like many of her fellow scouts, Marianne became involved in the resistance, and when the Vichy regime began deporting Jews, she dedicated her energies to saving children, working with a clandestine section of EIF. She successfully carried out many missions before she was apprehended in Nice, when she penned the above poem. She was eventually released, and quickly resumed her work. 

On 31 May 1944, in the process of smuggling 28 Jewish children from France into Switzerland, she was again arrested. Enduring horrendous torture, she held her silence, defiantly telling the Gestapo she had no regrets for her actions. Upon learning that her comrades in the underground were planning her rescue, she refused to leave the children arrested alongside her, fearing for their safety. 

Marianne Cohn was beaten to death with shovels on 8 July, alongside five of her fellow resisters. Every one of the children arrested alongside her would survive the war.