Oldest Auschwitz survivor in France dies at 101

Henriette Cohen was sent to Auschwitz in 1944. She returned to France eight months later weighing 77 pounds.

Sara Rubenstein ,

צילום: iStock

France's oldest Auschwitz survivor, Henriette Cohen, died earlier this week at the age of 101.

Cohen was born in Marseille in 1917. In May 1944, Cohen, already a mother of two small children, was at the home of her in-laws when she was seized by the Nazis together with her mother-in-law, Rosine Cohen. Henriette had arranged for her mother to hide on a farm with her children, Monique, 3, and Nicole, 14 months, before the Nazis entered France.

Henriette and her mother-in-law were sent to Auschwitz shortly later, and her mother-in-law was immediately sent to the gas chambers. Cohen was sent to the right and became prisoner A8541, surviving until the end of the war.

Cohen returned to France in January 1945, where her family initially failed to recognize her at her weight of only 77 pounds. Cohen eventually recovered and she and her husband had four more children after the war.

The French citizens who hid her mother and children during the war were later honored as "Righteous Among the Nations."

Cohen didn't utter a word about the horrors she had experienced in Auschwitz for four decades but she eventually publicized her story so "no one could deny the Holocaust."

President of France Emmanuel Macron praised Cohen on Friday as a "courageous and strong woman, generous and committed."

"Henriette Cohen has passed away but her fight against the forces of oblivion and hatred remains," a statement from the Macron's office said. "Faithful to her memory and that of all those who faced Nazi barbarism, we will continue her fight tirelessly."