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Monday, April 12, 2010

Yom Hashoah Tribute: Marthe Cohn

Last Friday night, I finished reading an inspiring book, a book you will find hard to put down once you started reading it. The story is about a remarkable lady called Marthe Hoffnung, a most courageous woman, who was a spy for the French during WWII.

A synopsis as provided by Barnes & Noble):

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 her family was forced to flee to the south of France. Always a fighter, Marthe joined the French Army.
As a member of the intelligence service of the French First Army, Marthe fought valiantly to retrieve needed inside information about Nazi troop movements by slipping behind enemy lines, utilizing her perfect German accent and blond hair to pose as a young German nurse who was desperately trying to obtain word of a fictional fiancé. By traveling throughout the countryside and approaching troops sympathetic to her plight, risking death every time she did so, she learned where they were going next and was able to alert Allied commanders.
When, at the age of eighty, Marthe Cohn was awarded France’s highest military honor, the Médaille Militaire, not even her children knew to what extent this modest woman had faced death daily while helping defeat the Nazi empire. At its heart, this remarkable memoir is the tale of an ordinary human being who, under extraordinary circumstances, became the hero her country needed her to be.
I can not imagine the horrors people had to go through in WWII. I can not imagine how evil people can become as soon as they dehumanized others. But I was provided a glimpse. This book does not get into unnecessary gory details of war, but nevertheless makes you feel like you are right in the story with her, so that you can feel her angsts.

Some side remarks:

  • Marthe comes from a religious family but did not live a frum life.
  • Her grandfather was a Rabbi. He did not approve of her lifestyle but let her do her thing and always walked out of the room at the time she should have made a brochah, not to cause any inconveniences.
  • She and some siblings dated non-Jews.
  • She was a person of high intelligence, courage and integrity, a real role model for the rest of humanity. And she managed to keep her past secret from her family for most of her life.

16 comments:

  1. Well, we can thank people like her for the Holocaust, as I've proven here.

    http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2009/06/holocaust-clear-evidence-of-gods-hand.html

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  2. JP: Let me try to teach you something, and I will try to stay civil here.

    The first thing you need to realize is that 'Philosopher' is a very presumptuous title for someone who uses the word 'proof' for something that can, at best, be considered circular reasoning.

    Putting that comment aside, let me analyze your circular reasoning in a nutshell:

    1. God exists (assumption).
    2. God has a hand in everything that happens in this world (assumption).
    3. God let a Holocaust happen.
    4. He must have had a good reason for it (after all, 6 million people heylige neshomas died!).
    5. It must be that Jews in Europe and especially in Germany upset him (didn't the Torah warns us to be good, else???).
    6. So the fact that he had his chosen people slaughtered by the millions proves that God exists. Back to point 1!

    Assuming that his 'punishment' had an instructive purpose and was not just for the kicks of 'getting even' (OK, this is an assumption on my side now), I think that God did a rather miserable job in 'correcting' his children.

    In fact, it seems the opposite is true: instead of ushering in a new era of 'umal'ah haaretz deah es Hashem', most people *lost* their faith in God.

    Because they refused to believe in a God who had innocent babies crushed to death and cremated in ovens. A God that allows sadistic Nazi doctors to experiment with pregnant women until they and their fetuses bled to death. A God that sends well-meaning and innocent people to be exterminated in gas chambers.

    Now seriously: What normal person would believe such crap?!

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  3. Believe what you want however first of all my reasoning is rock solid.

    Let's say you have a girlfriend. Let's say one day you receive a letter stating "hi. I am your girlfriend's husband. Also, I happen to be a military explosives expert. If you meet my wife again, you're dead." Tomorrow, you meet her again. The following day your car explodes when you start it. I would say that this explosion gives some credibilty to that letter.

    There is no circular reasoning here "if she's married her husband tried to kill me, which assumes she's married, which goes back to point 1"

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  4. Second of all, if you persist in dating her after that explosion you are an idiot.

    He who doesn't learn from history is destined to repeat it.

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  5. JP: I agree with the case in your example. However, a letter with a threat is quite different from the Torah:

    - The letter refers to someone you know
    - It has a stamp on it with a date
    - You saw the letter firsthand
    - The threat was specific
    - The threat was addressed to you
    - The explosion can unmistakably be traced back to the threat

    The Torah is less trustworthy because of:

    - Its sender whom is disputed
    - The date of its origin is disputed
    - Its authenticity which is disputed
    - The threat which is not just one but many different types that would always cover some unfortunate occurrence
    - The threat is a general threat to those who leave the supposed covenant
    - The occurrence can not unmistakably be traced back to a specific threat

    Apples and oranges, JP.

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  6. One can only imagine how a frummie reads her story. Yeah we outta feel sorry for Jews who underwent genocide, but what did to the Midianites, Canaanites, Amalekites, etc is a-ok?

    How does a frum reconcile hating what the Nazis did, but then reading the annual parshas / commandments to not spare any man, woman or child of Amalek?

    To feel sorry for jewish children forcefully converted to Christianity, yet believe in a holy canon that orders smashing children against rocks?

    Oh and JP; I think Hashem wants all Jews to be secular. The Holocaust proves it; the secularists were rewarded with a state of their own while the frummies went to the ovens!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I think that in my post

    http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2009/06/holocaust-clear-evidence-of-gods-hand.html

    I provide convincing evidence that this was no coincidence.

    ReplyDelete
  8. JP: I read your post and there is nothing new that makes your circular reasoning go away.

    And it seems that we have a different concept of 'proof' and 'evidence'. For you that means any fact (verifiable or not, fishy or not) that points towards TMS.

    ReplyDelete
  9. It's not circular reasoning and I have no idea what all your "differences" are supposed to prove:

    - The letter refers to someone you know
    [the Torah refers to us]

    - It has a stamp on it with a date
    [so what? and what if it was hand delivered to
    your mailbox?]

    - You saw the letter firsthand
    [you can read the Torah firsthand]

    - The threat was specific
    [no more than the Torah's are]

    - The threat was addressed to you
    [the Torah is addressed to us]

    - The explosion can unmistakably be traced back to the threat
    [how? cars blow up everyday somewhere I'm sure. maybe this was a coincidence.]

    I wonder how old you are really. Seriously, and I'm not trying to be nasty, but sometimes I could swear that most Jewish skeptic bloggers are really one teenager in Flatbush.

    ReplyDelete
  10. - The letter refers to someone you know
    [the Torah refers to us]
    -> That is very general.

    - It has a stamp on it with a date
    [so what? and what if it was hand delivered to
    your mailbox?]
    -> Shows authenticity and a date if the letter is shown later to someone else if you want to prove that you were warned beforehand.

    - You saw the letter firsthand
    [you can read the Torah firsthand]
    Nope, the Torah was handed over from generation to generation, so there will definitely be changes -> less authentic.

    - The threat was specific
    [no more than the Torah's are]
    -> The Torah has a wide range of threats, so you can always pin one of them to a situation.

    - The threat was addressed to you
    [the Torah is addressed to us]
    -> There is a big difference if it is addressed to an individual or to someone in a an unspecified generation.

    - The explosion can unmistakably be traced back to the threat
    [how? cars blow up everyday somewhere I'm sure. maybe this was a coincidence.]
    -> Perhaps it was, but all the other factors above make it highly probably, especially since it was your car.

    In short: there is a huge difference between the two. I could always create a document with enough threats to a wide enough audience without a time frame so that it is highly likely some disaster will fit some of the threats. For your assumption to be a proof, you will have to have a way more specific warning.

    So there goes your proof and the circular reasoning still did not go away.

    As for your immature remark at the end, I will wisely decline to comment on it.

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  11. So in a nutshell:

    The Torah says abandonment of the Torah will bring disaster. The Jews abandoned the Torah. Disaster followed. Your analysis: just coincidence.

    I think that's quite unlikely, but I guess some people don't believe fire is dangerous until they get burned.

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  12. The Jewish people had disaster during just about their whole history, whether they abandoned the Torah or not.

    But that is not even the point. Your reasoning is circular (as displayed above) and it is definitely not a proof, just an unspecific correlation.

    You can do better than that.

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  13. "The Jewish people had disaster during just about their whole history"

    The Holocaust was a little bit over the top, even by Jew hating standards.

    What's you're take on it then? The German people are naturally psychopaths? It's never really seemed that way before or since.

    Invading Poland and France made sense; Germany was desperate for an economic recovery, so just go and take some land from someone else. Reckless perhaps, but that's how empires are built.

    But what was the Jewish thing? To avenge the death of Jesus? I don't think most Nazis could have cared less.

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  14. JP: You made a claim that is not only insulting but very shaky. I think we both agree that what you believe to be proof is just opinion.

    What my take is on this is irrelevant for our discussion.

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  15. Changing the subject when it gets too uncomfortable. Good strategy.

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  16. JP using people can use the Holocaust anyway they like.

    I can make an argument for secularism, by saying that the Holocaust shows God favors Jews who are secular since secularists got a state of the their own, while the frummies were cooked in gas chambers

    If I am a christian, I can say the Holocaust was divine punishment for Jews denying Jesus. In fact as a christian I can say Jews have suffered untold misery for 2000 years precisely because they are Christ-killers.

    Furthermore, what about today? There is no persecution of Jews in today's world. Jews are accepted all over the West. And yet simultaneously Jews are now more secular than they have ever been in their history. Over a third of Jews are now secular. The number who were secularized during the Holocaust in no way compares to the number that are secularizing in today's world. And yet where is the fire and brimstone? If the Holocaust because Jews abandoned Torah back then, then certainly a much worse Holocaust should be taking place today since a much greater Torah abandonment is taking place? But that is just not what we see happening.

    People of all faiths appeal to natural historical consequences to justify their religion. Pat Robertson felt the Haiti earthquake happened due to the Haitian "pact with the devil". And your Holocaust argument is no more coherant than his.

    ReplyDelete