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Zvi Cohen – The Boy with the Harmonica

Eyewitness Talk On Experiences and Fates of German Jews during the Nazi Era

Zvi Cohen was born in 1931 as Horst Cohn in Berlin. He attended the Jewish school in Choriner Straße from 1937. On his way to school, he was repeatedly attacked by the Hitler Youth and from 1941, he lost the courage to leave the apartment at all. During this time he learned to play the harmonica. In May 1943, Zvi Cohen and his parents were deported to the Theresienstadt ghetto. In the children’s opera Brundibár by Czech composer Hans Krása performed there, he played his harmonica several times.

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In February 1945, Zvi and his parents were among the 1200 Jews who were bought free and arrived in Switzerland on a train from Theresienstadt. Not long after, the Cohn family managed to immigrate to Palestine, and settled in Kibbutz Ma’abarot, where Zvi Cohen still lives today.

Portrait of Zvi Cohen

Zvi Cohen; photo: Elisa Makowski, Kibbutz Ma’abarot, Israel, April 2019

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Event Series: Eyewitness Talks (12)