Rabbi Dr. Benjamin Cohen
Rabbi Benjamin (Benno) Cohen, born 14 April 1895 in Hamburg (Altona), eldest of three brothers, had absolved his theological and rabbinical studies in Berlin, Frankfurt am Main and Hamburg between 1914–1921—interrupted in part by his military service during the war. In early 1921 he attained his doctorate at the venerated old University of Giessen.
On 30 May 1921 Rabbi Dr. Cohen took over the rabbinate of the Israelitische Religionsgemeinschaft Adass Jeschurun in Heilbronn, a position he held only for a year. His subsequent move to Berlin secured him an appointment as preacher at two private synagogues and as teacher of religion at the Austrittsgemeinde Adass Jisroel. After his marriage to Bertha Malina on 10 September 1921 in Berlin, in 1922 Rabbi Cohen accepted the position of the pulpit in Berlin’s Sephardic synagogue at Lützowstrasse 16. In October 1925 he was accepted as rabbi, teacher and spiritual guide to lead the 200-year old kehila of Schönlanke in Germany's eastern province of Grenzmark-Posen Westpreussen, replacing Rabbi Dr. Bamberger who had passed away that year. At the end of this three-year position in Schönlanke Rabbi Cohen found a home as district rabbi of the small community in Friedrichstadt- Flensburg in north-western Germany.
In April 1937 Rabbi Cohen chose to move to Hamburg where he could join the Portuguese Jewish community, a temporary position once again, leading up to the events of the 1938 November pogrom, his incarceration in Hamburg and the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. Rabbi Cohen was subsequently released on condition to leave Germany within months. With the help of his younger brother Martin who had wisely made his home in Holland in December 1932 where he had become head of the Jewish community of Delft, Rabbi Cohen was able to procure visas for his family and a position at the Portuguese Jewish community in Amsterdam as 'Klausrabbiner' of the Ets Chajim Yeshiva. Together with his wife and young daughter Miriam, who had already moved to Hamburg in 1937, Rabbi Cohen joined his aging parents in Amsterdam on 5 December 1938.
The family's last known address in Amsterdam was Plantage Parklaan 7, II. During a raid on 26 May 1943 he and his family were arrested, deported to Westerbork and held prisoners until 16 November 1943, when the family was deported together with nine-hundred and ninety-five men, women and children to Auschwitz. His wife and daughter were sent to the gas chambers on arrival. Rabbi Benjamin Cohen barely stayed alive for the following four months; his reported date of death is 31 March 1944. Save for his brother Martin with wife and son who had survived underground—three generations of the Cohen family had been obliterated.