Dec 18, 2000
Hamilton Journal-News (featured front page)

'Divided Lives'
Crane's book details discrimination's legacies
By Ercel Eaton

Before Kristallnacht (the night of broken glass in Germany) in 1938, Dr. Felix Cohn escaped Nazi Germany and made his way to this country.

He and his wife, Herta Bahlsen-Cohn, came to Hamilton, and by the next year he had met Ohio's requirements to practice medicine. Mrs. Cohn has continued to reside here since his death some years back.

Their lives form the moving force behind the newly published book, "Divided Lives," by their granddaughter, Cynthia Crane.

The impressive work focuses on 10 women whose stories are similar to her grandmother's.

"Their marriage was labeled a 'mischehe' (mixed marriage) because my grandfather was considered 'non-Aryan' and Jewish, and my grandmother was 'Aryan' and Christian," she said.

"It did not matter that my grandfather was not Jewish and had his children baptized Christian. My father and his siblings were labeled 'mischlinge' (half-breeds), and because my father was considered half-Jewish, he was beaten daily in school by his Nazi teacher."

It was to these 'mischlinge' women in Germany that Crane went for her book. Her father, Carl Crane, (he changed his name in order to be more employable-the persecution did not entirely stop when the family reached this country), like those in the book, survived the Third Reich.

I remember interviewing Herta Cohn years ago, learning of her hardships in Austria and in Hamburg, Germany, before she came here. I was fascinated with the stories she related and glad she had put her memories into book form.

Carrying her family's background in her heart, Cynthia Crane, with a Fulbright Scholarship in hand, spent time in Germany to research her book. All in all, the work required about eight years to complete.

"I had to do interviews in German, then translate them. It took so long, for I wanted to keep the flavor of their voices intact," she said.

Crane has been making public appearances, reading, signing her book and speaking in various areas.

She was born and raised in Hamilton, a daughter of Joan and Carl Crane and granddaughter of Herta and the late Felix Cohn, and Alma and George Cummins.

She is an assistant professor of English at Raymond Walters College at the University of Cincinnati and is a communications consultant, utilizing her prior experience in promotions and public relations.

She earned a bachelor's degree from Wittenberg University, a master's from Xavier University and a doctorate from the University of Cincinnati. Her awards include the Fulbright Scholarship and a PEO National Scholars Award.

She said she hopes the book will serve as an inspiration to others because of the strength and courage of the individuals whose stories are told and "also serve as a cautionary tale to remind us of what can transpire when we lose sight of our humanity and our connection to one another."

Copyright 2000. All Rights Reserved.

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