Božena Cohenová

* 1913  

  • “(Q.: Did you want to work at a field court from the very beginning?) No, there was no field court. I enlisted the army as a woman with number 4. To work at court was just my dream. I got a job in a social office. (Q.: Why?) A lot of people were arriving in horrible shape from the whole USSR, from Siberia. Before they could enlist the army they needed treatment. That was my job. I lead a kind of a social section. Later a judge from Prague appeared among us. His name was Dr. Winterstein, after the war he was promoted to general. He offered me a job immediately.”

  • “What should I say…? It is important to live honestly, to learn constantly. I still study. On Wednesday I take English lessons. We speak only English. I need to learn continually. You never know what it could be good for. Everybody in my family was or is a sort of artist. My mother had been drawing a little. I had been visiting lessons of painting during my studies in the evenings. I got even a certificate. In Russia I had been teaching painting too. I like it very much.”

  • “On 15th of March in 1939 Hitler set foot in Prague. I watched his arrival from a window of my office on Národní třída (a street in the center of Prague). Next day I found a letter on my desk that I was not allowed to work as a lawyer any more. Everything was prepared beforehand.”

  • “We dwelt in Lviv in those days. We ran away after news about the attack had been broadcasted. My colleague told me a train designated for wives of soviet officers will depart and there was a chance to leave the place. We drove to the railway station. A long train stood there, only women around. They taught we were wives of some officers and helped us to get in. I said: ‘This is my husband, my husband.’ They let him get in as well. So we departed. We left everything in Lviv. But others shared their food with us. They saw we had nothing at all. Our journey took eight days. Then we arrived to Chuvash Republic. We got off with empty hands, with no friends, like abandoned children. The only thing we saved was a document proving our profession of teachers.”

  • “I was born on 6th of August in 1913 in Uzhorod, born Božena Alžběta Fieldman. I graduated there at a local high school. Then I had studied law at Charles University of Prague. I graduated in 1937. Then I began to work as an attorney's clerk in an office of my father-in-law in Prague. My husband was a lawyer as well. We had studied together. We thought our life had just started.”

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    Jeruzalém, Izrael, 05.03.2008

    (audio)
    duration: 02:25:22
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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“In 1937 I began to work as an attorney’s clerk in the office of my father-in-law in Prague. My husband was a lawyer as well. We had studied together. We thought our lives had just started.”

cohen_bozena_1942.jpg (historic)
Božena Cohenová

Božena (Elisheva) Cohenová, born Božena Alžběta Fieldman, was born on 6th of August in 1913 to a Jewish family. Her native language was Hungarian. The family lived in Uzhorod. She had graduated from high school in Uzhorod, and then moved to Prague to study law at Charles University. She graduated in 1937 and she became an attorney’s clerk. In 1939 she was forbidden to work as a lawyer. She emigrated with her husband to USSR via Slovakia and Poland. They had been teaching foreign languages in Lviv and Kanash in Chuvash Republic. In 1942 both had enlisted Czechoslovakian foreign army in Buzuluk among the first volunteers. In the army she had served under the name Alžběta Hermann as a typist and an attorney’s clerk of a field court. Her husband was injured near Sokolovo. After the war she gave birth to a daughter (1946), and her husband has died in 1948. She left with the daughter legally for Israel after the communist putsch in 1948. She had worked as a lawyer in pensioner’s insurance office in Jerusalem.