I Have Met My Hero!

November 28, 2011- PHNOM PENH
Have you ever experienced when the people you never thought you could meet suddenly appeared just out of thin air? When you were dying to hear their stories and admire their courage and you did? If yes, we're on the same page. 
Because I have met one of the world's heroes!!! 
Mrs. Marthe Hoffnung Cohn was a French Jewish in Nazi Germany during World War II.
And for Buddha's sake, she was a secret intelligent agent (aka spy) behind the enemy lines! (That's also the title of her book).

AND I'VE MET HER!!! I couldn't believe it! She came to give a speech at my university. And just like that, I found myself transported into her life once again! And she is so-oh-oh beautiful even at the age of 90. Her voice, oh my gosh, how could I describe her voice? It was like an enchanting song in the fairy tale! I loved every word she spoke. I could listen to her all day! I had to fight back tears sometimes while listening to her story. 
There were about 600 people coming to the speech. And I was in a verge of exploding tantrum when some freshmen were mumbling around me. They had no idea Mrs. Cohn is a living legend! Behind those wrinkles, this woman has a nerve of steel!
But do you believe in destiny? I do! 
Because after the speech ended, I thought I could never ever see her again. She was surrounded by professors, deans and the school founders. So I decided to leave, thinking it was enough for me just to see her from afar. But before I left, I went to bathroom. (I would have left immediately if it wasn't for nature call). And when I came back, I saw Mrs. Cohn again! She was waiting for her car to arrive. 

I took out my phone and snapped a few pictures of her just for a memory. Then a young lady behind me said, "If you want to take her picture, get closer." 
So I did. I just wanted to thank that young lady for telling me this. Without her urging me, I couldn't find my courage to get close to my hero, cos I was afraid I would tire her.
But then THE SCHOOL FOUNDER said to me, "You want to take a picture with Mrs. Cohn?" 
I stammered something that sounded like a "Yes".  
And he said, "Good, go up to her then." Then he motioned for his assistant to take a picture of us together!
I gingerly knelt next to Mrs. Cohn's chair. She gave me a big heart-warming smile. I remember saying something excitedly like, "Thank you for coming. I'm so happy to have you here. Merci beaucoup!" That was all I could speak. And it made her husband smiled at me too. And when we posed for the camera, Mrs. Cohn put her delicate hand around me!!! [Insert my hysterical screaming joy here!] I was so overwhelmed with delight that I cried all the way home after that. 

I have been reading about the Holocaust all my life, I read and reread Anne Frank's Diary, some memoirs of the survivors in Auschwitz camp. I've watched the documentary films like Schindler's List (a 7-Oscar-winner, you should watch it), I even got an A in European History course. And now, I was sitting next to one of THE HEROES IN THE HISTORY! It was like a dream come true! 
(No wonder, I cried like a little girl.)




(Do you see that? I was a bit shy, but she put her hand on me and pulled me close! PS: It's not my fault that the photo came out a bit too bright. I have adjusted the light to the medium, cos the cameraman took the picture with his flash on) Still, Mrs. Cohn looks like an angle in this picture.

Behind the Enemy Lines: The True Story of a French Jewish Spy in Nazi Germany
"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 Read more."

Because she had blond hair and blue eyes, the Nazi army thought she was a German nurse. They didn't know she was a spy with a pair of keen eyes. She saw everything, heard every words and just knew what to do about it. After the war, she had spent 9 months working as a nurse in Calemet hospital in Cambodia. That was during French colonial period.

Omg, she was a beautiful young woman!

I remember there was a monk who asked Mrs. Cohn something about her longevity. It was funny because his lengthy question only summed up to "How do you keep yourself healthy?" Mrs. Cohn's smart reply was, "I eat what I like." And the crowd laughed and applauded wildly. 
I Have Met My Hero! I Have Met My Hero! Reviewed by Sovathary Bon on Friday, December 02, 2011 Rating: 5

11 comments:

  1. Oh you lucky lady you! She's a gorgeous talent!

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  2. Yes, lucky lady me! She's a spy, that's even more amazing! :D

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  3. My gosh! You're so lucky, Mak Yeay!!! I can't help comparing your face to hers, and now I'm sure you are Mak Yeay! :P

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  4. Yeah, she's more beautiful and younger than both of us put together!

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  5. just like you, I love reading about Holocaust. Not love about it, literally, but the history could make me shivering and wondering how it was about back then. Read Anne Frank, The Boy with Stripped Pajama, and the other books related to them. Your post reminds me of Freedom Writer, scene where they meet one of Auschwitz's prisoner. Glad you could have this experience in your life.

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  6. Aww!! Dela, me too! I read almost everything about it, though I don't love the Holocaust itself. Most of the stories made me heartbroken. You read Anne Frank too? Aw! That's amazing. I read when I was in high school. It was the first book that got me interested in the WWII.

    Yes, I sort of reflect this experience to the Freedom Writer movie too. Only that lady in the move is Mieb, Anne Frank's savior and survivor. She was also one of the heroes in my heart. :D

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  7. Yeah, she really is! I'm feeling lucky too :D

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  8. We're meant to realize our dream! Those big and small. Yeah, even the people we want to meet or places we want to go... Etc. You know my motto is, "I BELIEVE"! Or Feb babies' motto.

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  9. I love that motto, can I copy it? I BELIEVE IN LIFE!

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  10. Can a January baby share that motto too?? HEHE! Because I also BELIEVE!

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