Family Cohen/Cohn



The family name Cohen originates in Posen, Prussia (nowadays part of Poland) which originally was written as Cohn. The name Cohn was used in writing up until 1967 by Gerhard Max Selmar Cohn who, after he immigrated to Palestina, changed his name to Gershon Cohen. From that day the family used the family name Cohen.

Traditionally, the Cohn family is a Jewish well-to-do family that exercised professions with great prestige. Think of International Traders, Lawyers, Dentists and Ortopedic Surgeons who have left their mark in both Berlin and Jerusalem.

The Cohn family owed their succes to the fact that they received a letter of protection (Schutzbrief) from the King of Prussia in 1772. According to a biography on Ernst Toller, who also lived in Samotschin and is somehow connected to the Cohn family. Quote: “A wealthy Jew who had been allowed by Frederick the Great to settle as the only Jew in Samotschin after the Prussion take-over from 1772. His name was Marcus Mendel (Cohn) (ca. 1740/50-1810). Conferred by a Prussian Charter of 1750, he was priviledged with a Schutzbrief, or letter of protection, in exchange for an (undefined) “sum of money”. As the town, favourable situated at the river Netze (Notec), enjoyed significance as a cloth maker settlement around that time, and local Jews were not allowed to trade in other materials than wool and cloth up to 1801, there can be little doubt that he was attracted to this town as a wool and cloth trader. His sons, Salomon Marcus (died 1819/1820) and Moses Marcus Cohn (ca. 1780-1856), continued their father’s business…”
A lawyer (Rechtsanwalt S. Kronheim) and close friend of Konrad Cohn wrote a condoleance message in one of the German newspapers in 1938, in memory of Konrad Cohn, confirming the fact that he originates from the same Cohn family in Samotschin that owned a ‘Shutzbrief’ 150 years ago.
Besides this we know from the death certificate of Konrad’s father Marcus, that Konrad’s grandfather was named Moritz Mendel Cohn and died in Samotschin. (More information on ‘Schutzjuden and Schutzbrief’ can be found here.)

The biography of Ernst Toller about the Cohn family in Samothschin also states that the ancestors of the Cohn family before the mid-18th century originates from Spain. However I haven’t found any evidence of this yet.

Name Cohn used in 1900

Name Cohn used in 1891

Frederick the Great, King of Prussia from 1740-1786

Family Gershon Cohen and Hanna Imdorf

Gershon Cohen (originally named Gerhard Max Selmar Cohn), son of Ludwig Cohn and Else Peiser, was born on 7 Juni 1925 in Berlin. Somewhere between 1939 and 1945 he immigrated to Palestina. He moved in with his aunt Erna Cohn, who lived in a rather large house in Jerusalem. She and her husband Jupp Treu were both orthopedic surgeons and had their own practice in that same house.
Also two nieces (Hanna and Alisa Imdorf) of Jupp lived in the same house for a while. Gershon got to know Hanna and they both decided to get married on 6 August 1945.
Hanna was born in Gressenich, Germany on 31 May 1921, the first child of Moritz Moses Imdorf and Klara Elise Treu.

In 1947, Gershon and Hanna’s, their first child Rachel Cohen was born. In 1950 their first son Yair Cohen was born. In 1954 their second son Ilan Cohen was born and their last child Dorit Cohen was born in 1957. A family with four children, two boys and two girls.

The young family quite often got to visit their aunt Erna and uncle Jupp Treu and their children (Erna was Konrad Cohn’s daugther, the grandfather of Gershon).

The family Cohen. From left ot right standing: Gershon Cohen, Hanna Imdorf en Rachel Cohen.
From left to right Sitting: Ludwig Cohn, Dorit Cohen, Yair Cohen, Ilan Cohen en Else Peiser.

Family Ludwig Cohn and Else Peiser

Ludwig Cohn, son of Chaskel (Konrad) Cohn and Selma Citron, was born on 2 februari 1895 in Berlin. He married Else Peiser on 14 december 1922 in Berlin. In 1925 their first and only child Gerhard Max Selmar Cohn was born.

Because of the Second World War the family was forced to flee. Gerhard fled in August 1939 with his father Ludwig and mother Else overland via the Netherlands to England. In the passport of Ludwig you can still find a stamp of the ‘Doorlaatpost’ in Oldenzaal, the Netherlands. For unclear reasons, father Ludwig went to Bolivia and Argentina a few months later, where he stayed for several years without the rest of his family. He left his family behind in England.
It is being said that Ludwig, who was very passioned about his profession as a Dentist, was unable to perform his profession in England. This might be one of the reasons he decided to move to Argentina and Bolivia, where he had acquaintances in the same profession. He started his own practice in Bolivia and had a relationship with another women. After quite some time Ludwig decided he wanted to be near his family again and especially his son Gerhard (who changed his name into Gershon Cohen). In 1965 Ludwig immigrated to Palestine where his son and his family lived. Ludwig died in Tel Aviv on 9 March 1967.Else, who still lived in England, met a women who she became very fond of. Else died on 18 October 1969 in Harrogate, Yorkshire, England.

Family Chaskel (Konrad) Cohn and Selma Citron

Chaskel (Konrad) Cohn, son of Marcus Cohn and Johanna Citron, was born on 24 February 1866 in Samotschin, Posen. Konrad graduated at the University of Berlin in 1887 and became a Dentist. In 1889 he promoted at the Univerisity of Bern and became a Medical Doctor. He was an authority in the world of dentistry and he had memberships and seats in numerous foundations in his profession world-wide. More information on Konrad’s life can be found here.
At the age of 27 Konrad Cohn married the 29-year-old Selma Citron on 27 October 1893 in Berlin.
Selma was born on 26 May 1864 in Wittkowo, Posen, daughter of Isaac Citron and Ernestine Witkowski. Her mother Ernestine was a descendant of the Witkowski-family. A well-to-do Jewish family who originates from the town of Wittkowo near Posen (now Poland).

On 2 February 1895, Konrad and Selma’s first child and son was born and gave him the name of Ludwig. About 11 years later, on 1 December 1906 their daughter was born and gave her the name of Erna
Selma died in Berlin on October 13, 1911. The cause is unkown.

After the unexpected death of his wife Selma, Konrad married a few years later, on 10 November 1923 in Berlin at the age of 51 with his second wife, the 36-year-old Marianne Rosenstein. In this second marriage no children were born.

Chaskel (Konrad) Cohn – 1909

Family Marcus Cohn and Johanna Citron

Marcus Cohn, son of Moritz Mendel Cohn and <name unknown> Heymann, was born on 15 January 1819 in Samotschin, Posen. He married Johanna Citron on <unknown date> probably in Samotschin. Johanna, also called Hannchen, was the daughter of Chaskel Citron and <name unknown> Hirsch, she was born on 10 January 1825 in Wittkowo.
Marcus was an International Trader, who traveled the world to trade goods. I have found his name multiple times on passengerlists from Hamburg to New York during the mid-19th century.

In 1852 Marcus and Johanna’s first child Ignatz was born. In 1855 their second son Moritz was born. In 1858 their first daughter Marie was born. In 1862 their third son Max Julius was born. In 1863 their second daughter Flora was born and their last child and fourth son Chaskel (Konrad) was born in 1866. All children were born in Samotschin, Posen. A family with 6 children, four boys and two girls.The family relocated somewhere between 1866 and 1891 to Berlin.Johanna died on 4 April 1900 in Berlin and was buried at Berlin-Weissensee Jewish cemetery. Marcus Cohn died shortly after his wife’s passed on 30 september 1900 in Berlin and was also buried at the Berlin-Weissensee Jewish cemetery.


The Kesters (Witkowski family)
Landesarchiv Berlin – Schutzbrief