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Behind Enemy Lines: The True Story of a French Jewish Spy in Nazi Germany Paperback – March 28, 2006


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books (March 28, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307335909
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307335906
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #154,390 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This compelling memoir is testament to how extraordinary circumstances can transform a life-and how an extraordinary person reacts to difficult circumstances. Cohn was a typical French-Jewish teenager when WWII broke out, but as it did for millions of others, the war transformed her life in unimaginable ways. "There was no time to be frightened," she and Holden, a veteran journalist, write. The first part of the book chronicles her family and friends' response to the war. That countless other books have described the effects of the Nazi onslaught-the life-and-death consequences of the unthinkable decisions many were forced to make-makes her descriptions no less powerful and tragic. The narrative turns into a quasi thriller in its second half, depicting how the death of Cohn's fiance led her, now a nurse, to join the Free French forces in the fight to defeat the Nazis. A blonde, fluent German speaker who never mentioned to her superiors that she was a Jew, she went on several life-threatening missions into German territory, earning France's highest military honors. But she describes her actions without self-aggrandizement. What comes through is the importance of courageous individual action in the most dire situations. This is the amazing story of a woman who lived through one of the worst times in human history, losing family members to the Nazis but surviving with her spirit and integrity intact-Cohn now lives in California. 8 pages of b&w photos.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

The courageous Marthe Hoffnung was born in 1920 in the city ofMetz, 33 miles from the Franco-German border. Born into a close-knitJewish family, Marthe and her six brothers and sisters basked in theglow of love, education, and freedom of expression, but darker timesaltered their lives forever when Hitler's machinations reached theperimeters of France to shatter their lives. Marthe's family played anactive role in the Resistance movement, often hiding fellow Jews intheir home or ensuring their passage to an escape route. Thisselflessness would manifest itself further when Marthe joined theFrench army and, with her perfect German accent and blond hair, madeseveral trips into occupied Germany posing as a German nurse lookingfor her fiance in order to obtain critical intelligenceinformation. In 1990, at the age of 80, Marthe was awarded theMedaille Militaire, France's highest honor. Despite havingplayed a tremendous role in securing vital strategic informationcrucial to ending World War II, Cohn relays her amazing story ofunprecedented bravery with simplicity and modesty. Elsa Gaztambide
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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And my first word when I finished this book was "Wow".
Hope
Written in novel-like fashion the story grips the reader from the first page and does not let get until the last.
Neal Bellet
This is a story of great personal courage in the midst of horrible tragedy.
Shalom Freedman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Neal Bellet on March 26, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Behind Enemy Lines is the story of the book's author Marthe Cohn. Written in novel-like fashion the story grips the reader from the first page and does not let get until the last. That Ms. Cohn, and the majority of her immediate family were able to survive the German occupation of France is miracle enough for any book. What she did after the liberation, joining the French Army, crossing the border by herself into Nazi Germany, spying on the Germans is truly a remarkable tale. Her life would make a great movie. We are very fortunate that Ms. Cohn took the time to write this book because this is the type of story that needs to be read and remembered by all. The only problem was one glaring historical typo that has Paris being liberated by the forces of Colonel Leclerc and his Second Armored Division. Leclerc was a general. I very highly recommend the book.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Brady L. Buchanan on January 18, 2003
Format: Hardcover
If you like adventure, heartache, love affairs (not what you may think)and luck, you must read this book. This lady was in her late teens and early twenties during WW II. As her family is Jewish, they lived through all kinds of hell, however, the resourcefulness of the author along with many regular citizens of her area, this immediate family was able to live through the ordeal (excepting two people) and Ms. Cohn has written a fine book of the times and what she accomplished. What a fine human being Marthe Cohn is.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Hope on December 19, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This enthralling book captivated my attention for hours on end. It gave an interesting insight, both witty and serious, into the world during Hitler. Not only did it focus on the Jews, but also on the Germans who were not Nazis. The depth of the story was incredible. I've had to reread it several times because of the effect it had on me. And my first word when I finished this book was "Wow". If I can, I'm going to encourage my city school system to add this book to the required reading for high school students.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Alter Wiener on February 5, 2010
Format: Paperback
As a Holocaust survivor, I have often heard the comment"you were cowards" not resisting the brutalities perpetrated by the Germans. Many Jews in Palestine, (the Yishuv in 1945-1948) were acrimonious, questioning the Holocaust survivors: "why did you let the Germans lead you like sheep to slaughter houses?" Not being a captive in a concentration camp, Marthe Cohn could join the French Resistance. Courage or cowardice depends on the surrounding circumstances. For detainees behind barbed-wire it was not possible to fight back. In one camp, my uniform did not even have pockets. We had nothing to fight with. To fight off armed men with bare hands would be suicidal. In some instances, where a slight chance to fight the Germans did exist, Jews did resist. The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in the spring of 1943 is one example. Marthe Cohn is another manifestation of Jewish courage and bravery. When the war ended, Marthe was told that she would be rewarded with the Gold Star and 25,000 francs for her work for intelligence in Germany. Marthe response was: "I don't want the monetary reward. I don't want to make money out of what happened. It would be wrong to accept." What a humble and noble attitude! Eventually, in the year 2000, at the age of eighty, Marthe Cohn was awarded France's highest military honor, the Medaille Militaire for outstanding military service.

Marthe Cohn, was imbued with beauty of soul and body. She had a profound sense of justice and resentment for French anti-Semites and Nazi racists. As a little girl, she was listening to her brother's reading about the pogroms carried out by Russian Cossacks against its Jewish population. She was appalled to learn what some people could do to others, just because they were Jewish.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By G. Joy Robins on December 3, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I saw Marthe Cohn on Book TV and was inspired to buy the book. She appears to be a very tiny white haired woman, no wonder her family and friends were shocked to find out that she had been a spy for the free French and a genuine hero. She is blessed with a very sharp mind and a remarkable memory. Her story is so well written that it had me on the edge of my seat, in spite of knowing that she did indeed survive.

The most telling part of the book is where she describes the paralyzing fear she felt as she was about to cross into Nazi Germany. She somehow found the courage and made the crossing many times. Petite, blond and speaking impeccable German, she was easily accepted as "Aryan", even by one Nazi officer who was sure he could "smell a Jew". She was thus able to get much vital information and saved many lives.

This is a great book for anyone who likes adventure stories. The fact that it is true makes it all the more appealing. I couldn't wait to share this book.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Shalom Freedman HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on May 14, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is a story of great personal courage in the midst of horrible tragedy. It is the story of Marthe Cohn who was born in the city of Metz, raised in a devout German- speaking Jewish religious household. Circumstances including the loss of her fiance led her to become a fighter in the French Resistance. Courageously she worked behind enemy lines to provide vital intelligence for the Allies.

In this book she tells her own story but while doing so tells that of tens of others with whom she shared a struggle and a world. At the end of the book she discloses what has become of many of them with the passing of the years.

For her courageous actions she was awarded the Highest French Military Medal of Distinction.

She comments at the end of the book that her maiden name translates as "Hope and 'Goodness'. Her life and actions certainly were an exemplification of her name, and evidence of the greatness of the human spirit in times of darkness and adversity.
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