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Behind Enemy Lines: The True Story of a French Jewish Spy in Nazi Germany
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Behind Enemy Lines: The True Story of a French Jewish Spy in Nazi Germany

4.14  ·  Rating Details ·  702 Ratings  ·  74 Reviews
Marthe Cohn was a beautiful young Jewish woman living just across the German border in France when Hitler rose to power. Her family sheltered Jews fleeing the Nazis, including Jewish children sent away by their terrified parents. But soon her homeland was also under Nazi rule. As the Nazi occupation escalated, Marthe’s sister was arrested and sent to Auschwitz. The rest of ...more
Paperback, 312 pages
Published March 28th 2006 by Broadway Books (first published December 3rd 2002)
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Kathryn
Sep 03, 2011 Kathryn rated it it was amazing
This is the fascinating memoir of a young French-Jewish woman who survives the Holocaust because of her quick wits, her Aryan looks, and a forged identification card. After Paris is liberated (about halfway through the book), the reader discovers the reason for the book's title: Marthe -- who was raised in the Alsace Lorraine area and is fluent in both French and German -- decides to work as a spy in German-occupied territory.

She recalls so many details that this book is a stunning, albeit horri
...more
Terri Lynn
What a fascinating book! Marthe Cohn was a 19 year old French Jew when her family had to abandon their home and business to run from Nazi Germans who were invading their country. A pacifist who had enough hope and optimism to think problems could be averted if only the French and Germans sat down and talked it over, she was shocked at what the Germans would soon do to both Jewish and non-Jewish French.

Her family was close knit though the father had a past that made it difficult for him to be tr
...more
Jeanette
Jan 24, 2016 Jeanette rated it really liked it
Hoffnung Gutgluck as a surname certainly fits. This is Marthe Cohn's birth family's name. It means Hope and Good Luck. Her story is phenomenal and close to unbelievable for the number of times she skirted death before she was 25. And her life after the war, those first 6 years afterwards when she was in the French Army- those are as dicey! Maybe more. Not only in Europe but in Indochine (Saigon).

Not even 5 feet tall and weighing between 94-100 lbs. IMHO her appearance was deceiving to a exponent
...more
Alan Cook
Jul 16, 2013 Alan Cook rated it it was amazing
Marthe Cohn is in her nineties now and has never hit five feet, but she played a major role in the final year of World War II, spying for the French troops in Germany. The fact that she grew up in Metz, France, speaking flawless French and German was a big help to her, and the atrocities she experienced that got members of her family and friends tortured and killed motivated her to action. Spy stories don't get more exciting than this one, especially since it's true. Faced with death many times, ...more
Susan Weinberg
Dec 31, 2012 Susan Weinberg rated it it was amazing
Fascinating memoir of Marthe Cohn's wartime experiences as a French Jew who spoke fluent German. Blonde and blue-eyed she was able to pass as a German and serve as a spy. She also hid her Jewish background as she served in the military. She tells the story of her family during the war and the ways in which their lives were touched, including the murder of her sister and the execution of her fiance. The story reads like a thriller and showed a different perspective of war time experience than one ...more
Kellie
Mar 04, 2009 Kellie rated it really liked it
I could not put this book down. Reading this book was more like watching a movie, the descriptions were incredible and had so much detail I thought I was witnessing the events. Usually I have a hard time with books such as this, the people tend to come off as too good to be true, this was not the case with this book. Marthe was good and did a lot of heroic and selfless things, but she also proved to be human and made mistakes and wasn't afraid to admit them.
Clarice
Mar 03, 2016 Clarice rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2016
Mrs Cohn came to speak in Park City, UT, which is why I wanted to finish this book. I didn't make it to her event, but this book chronicles her life during the war, and she is an amazing woman.
Abraham
Nov 14, 2016 Abraham rated it it was amazing
Another wonderful historical book on one of the most horrible times in history. For history buffs, lovers of history, World War 2 researchers. Those who study the past, then this is a must read. I found myself totally connected to the plot, and those involved. The words become images, and the storyline flows with an ease.

The plot itself should make you seek this book out, a French-Jew who decides to become a spy during the Nazi reign. Bravery beyond words describes that. Marthe is the very essen
...more
Donna Herrick
Nov 29, 2016 Donna Herrick rated it it was amazing
First, a tale of amazing resolve and bravery and intelligence.
Second, a tale about finding your strength and purpose in life, of making yourself of use and of being true to yourself.
Third, a story about WWII from the vantage point of the French Army and about French interests after the war, a viewpoint that we seldom hear in the United States.
Fourth, a story of successful, but costly resistance to Nazi tyranny.
Cathy
Dec 04, 2016 Cathy rated it really liked it
What a gutsy woman and it was especially great to read her writings after hearing her speak at The Arvada Center. She had an interesting perspective on being a Jew in France, in Vichy France, and becoming an agent against the Nazis. It was less interesting to read about her time in Indochina.
Lisa Grant
Oct 23, 2016 Lisa Grant rated it it was amazing
What an amazing life! I am always amazed at the true heroism during that WWII era. These were ordinary people faced with extraordinary hardships. Truly an amazing generation. I look forward to seeing her in person in just over a week!!
Brian Penkoff
Nov 30, 2016 Brian Penkoff rated it it was amazing
Love the end!
Janice Fahey
Oct 17, 2016 Janice Fahey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Compelling.
Relstuart
Dec 09, 2014 Relstuart rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A beautiful book about an ugly time. A book not about the war, but about a French Jewish girl and her family, in a time of war.

Early in the book the author (Marthe) talks about a neighbor girl calling her a "dirty Jew". Her response was to tell her that she bathed every day and then when the girl repeated her insult she smashed the bag of eggs she was carrying on her head. The author of this memoir was a young blonde girl at the start of WWII who lived in Northern France with her Jewish family.
...more
Ruth
Sep 25, 2016 Ruth added it
I am always riveted to books about WWII and the holocaust. This one does not disappoint.
Kevin
Jan 18, 2008 Kevin rated it really liked it
Wow. This lady had unbelievable guts. This is a war story everyone ought to read. It details the wartime experience of Marthe Cohn, a Jewish woman of binational French-German heritage who grew up in the Alsace region of Northeastern France, who in the end was able to put her bilingual skills and her incredible at the service of Allied intelligence by making espionage forays into the Nazi Germany itself. The first part of the story tells of the tightening of the noose on Jewish families in ...more
Pauline
Feb 20, 2016 Pauline rated it it was amazing
Shelves: france, wwii, read-aloud
An intense and engaging book. A must-read! This is one of our read-aloud books & it is perfectly suited for that. It is written in such an engaging & descriptive format that we feel we are walking along with Marte Cohn, a young Jewish woman, her family & friends. I'm thankful that some in this war generation are telling their stories, lest they be lost forever. We must never forget! Beware: it's a book you get emotionally sucked into as you read of their brave moves to protect the ...more
Rachel
Apr 04, 2013 Rachel rated it really liked it
So many people risked their lives during World War II to do their part. Marthe Cohn was one of those amazing women. I was fortunate to meet in her person because she lives nearby, and hearing this 93-year-old woman calmly describe some of her experiences was inspiring. That is what amazes me about this story and others like this--it is all true. This isn't some fictional world she imagined. The title is a bit misleading--only a portion of the book is actually about her time spying. This book ...more
Cheryl
Jan 26, 2016 Cheryl rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wwii, non-fiction
This was well written, much like a historical fiction book in that it included conversations as if they only happened yesterday and not lifetime's of yesterdays ago. The story was told with a beginning, middle and ending which is hard to do as you recall events from long ago. This made the story itself much easier to read and understand.
Since I was a kidling in middle school, I have read every book I can get my hands on with any reference to the Holocaust. It is almost as if I have to witness t
...more
Neeta
Dec 19, 2012 Neeta rated it really liked it
This is the memoir of a young Jewish woman, Marthe, and her family living in France prior to and during WWII. She describes the growing anti-Semitism in the 1930's. The Germans invaded Poland and more eastern European countries prior to invading France, and the French Jews never had a clear picture of just how bad things were in those countries. They thought the Germans were too civil to take over France. But eventually Marthe's family has to go into hiding when the German's invade France and a ...more
Pat Jorgenson Waterchilde
Apr 07, 2016 Pat Jorgenson Waterchilde rated it it was amazing
What an absolutely fascinating memoir! As a lover of anything historical, I am astounded by the bravery of men and women who faced overwhelming odds and struggles of survival during the world's cruelest times. WWII and the Nazis reign of terror against the Jewish people was one of those times. Marthe, a French Jew, lived through the Nazis occupation of France, face numerous difficulties of war, became a spy for the French as the war was ending and was morally braver than most. What a story and ...more
Linda K
Jul 22, 2011 Linda K rated it liked it
I am forever amazed at what people during World War II endured and lived to tell about. This true story reveals the life of a French Jewish woman and her family. Trained as a nurse, Marthe Cohn was full of an heroic boldness that saved herself and much of her family, as the Nazi occupation pushed them out of their homes, seeking refuge further south in France. As the war neared the end, Marthe served with the French First Army, aiding the allied commanders in troop movements and plans of the ...more
Kevin
Apr 18, 2012 Kevin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Marthe Cohn was in her late teens when Hitler was rising to power. Living across the German border in Alsace-Lorraine, her family began taking in Jews who were fleeing the Nazis, as well as the Jewish children being sent away by terrified parents. Soon her own homeland was under Nazi rule, and she and her parents, brothers, and sisters were forced to live the restricted lives of all Jews. As the Nazi occupation of France escalated along with the war, Marthe' s sister was arrested and eventually ...more
Katie
Aug 25, 2016 Katie rated it really liked it
WOW. I really enjoyed this book. It was very captivating and brought tears to my eyes many times. I thought it would be filled with lots of military stuff and therefore wasn't sure I'd like it but the first 2/3 of the book were just about surviving as a Jew during the war. Her work as an intelligence agent and field nurse in the last third proved to be very interesting as well. I found this book as interesting and fascinating as The Nightingale and loved that it was actually a work of nonfiction ...more
Carole Sustak
May 10, 2016 Carole Sustak rated it it was amazing
A very well presented history of the life of the author Marthe Cohn as a Jewess during her childhood and into her late twenties. In an attempt to find her sister, who was taken from their home late one night, and to support the French in their war against the Nazi invasion, Marthe inadvertently took on the role of intelligence provider for the French military. This one time agreement led into an extensive service to her country and provision of intelligence support that helped France ...more
Suellen
Aug 14, 2010 Suellen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It didn't hurt that the author is the mother-in-law of one of our book club members and that she was there to talk to us. That being said, it's an amazing story ... especially when you see her in person.

She also spoke at church:

http://stjohnschicago.blogspot.com/20...

She was likely in Paris at the same time as one of Bob's relatives, who was in the Resistance and was shot as the Germans were leaving. The word was passed from window to window.

At the family church in St. Germain des Pres, bullet h
...more
Maggie
A very interesting memoir of a Jewish woman who suffered through WW II in France while the Germans took away their town, their home, their businesses, their food, and their families. Meanwhile she is growing and deciding how she wants to serve humanity. After training as a nurse, the actions of the Nazi's push her to become a spy even though she is only 4' 11" tall. Convincing the allies to use her is yet another hurdle she must cross. Recommended.
Kala
Apr 28, 2016 Kala rated it really liked it
Well written and interesting memoir on French Jews were able to stay and work in France throughout WW2 with the aid of false papers. Cohn captured aspects of the war often left unseen by history:
anti-Semtisim in the French army and on the French home front. I found her nursing career in the Pacific theater especially captivating because it's an area I know little about. I don't often read memoirs or autobiographies, but this was great.
Pgericson
Dec 21, 2013 Pgericson rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, military
The matter of fact telling of one woman's tribulations during the German occupation of France is made palatable by the excellent touch of co-author Wendy Holden. I was impressed by the detailed memories of Marthe Cohn, who clearly ran the full range of wartime experiences of a Jewess: life as a registered Jew, living underground with false papers in occupied France, dealing with French disdain for Jews and, most notably, serving the French army as an intelligence operative.
Lisa Votraw
Sep 07, 2015 Lisa Votraw rated it liked it
Mostly good. Sometimes she didn't give enough details. She glossed over how she fell in love with Jaques. One minute she was indifferent toward him, the next they were engaged. Other times, she went into too much detail. I was literally skipping pages because I just didn't care about her experiences in Indochina. But overall, it was interesting.
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