Matti Cohen

* 1924  

  • “Technion was closed down and students were mobilized for the Haganah. The first task was to guard the border between the Jewish and Arab quarters in Haifa, at the Hadar border. At nights we would stand there and be on guard. Now it is different, but there were Arab villages between Haifa and Zikhron Ya'akov and they were shooting at Jewish passengers in buses. We were therefore mobilized and we were going in buses between Haifa and Zikhron back and forth. Two students would ride in a bus, one in the front, and one on the top, and we would go there and back.” – “You were guarding the buses.” – “Yes.”

  • “It was already in Ústí. I was in the organization Tchelet Lavan since the age of about eleven or twelve. We had meetings every week. I also did sports in Makabi.” – “Where did you have the meetings?” – “In Ústí nad Labem there was one house next to the synagogue, and there was a room where we had the meetings.”

  • “We went to Palestine from Prague on March 7, 1939, one week before Hitler. We were a large group, about fifty people, families. At first we went by train to Hungary, and then via Yugoslavia to Trieste, and there we boarded a boat to Haifa. I have to say that it was an emigration deluxe, the ship was large and elegant.”

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    Ramat Gan, Izrael, 12.03.2017

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We left one week before Hitler

Matti Cohen was born on December 27, 1924 in Ústí nad Labem into a Jewish family as Mathias (Matitjahu) Kohn. His father Kamil Kohn was a chemist and he was one of important Zionist activists, and his mother Zdeňka, née Ascherová, worked as a paediatrician. Matti was a member of the Zionist groups Tchelet Lavan and Makabi since his young years. In autumn 1938 the Kohn family moved to Prague and his father managed to obtain emigration certificates there. In March 1939 the whole family went to Palestine. Matti studied at a technical school and after passing his final examinations he continued at Technion in Haifa. As a member of the army organization Haganah he took part in the war for independence of the State of Israel. He completed his studies in 1953 and he worked in technical jobs. In 1953 he married and with his wife they raised two children. Matti Cohen lives in Ramat Gan.