CHICHINETTE, MA VIE D’ESPIONNE (How I Accidentally Became a Spy)
Thursday, February 27 | 86 min
Nicola Hens | 2019
France, Germany | French (English subtitles)
The untold story of a French Jewish former spy, Marthe Cohn, aka Chichinette. After keeping silent for almost 60 years, she shares her extraordinary story of a 4.5 feet high woman who managed to beat the odds and fight the Nazis as a spy. At the age of 99, she now tours the world, promoting her message to people of all generations.
It is only now, at the age of 98, that French Jewish Marthe Cohn can talk freely about her experience as a spy during the war. Known at the time as Chichinette, she was recruited as a young woman by the French army and sent to gather intelligence from inside Germany. At four and a half feet tall, Cohn – then as today – may not look like much of a threat, but her incredible bravery and resourcefulness contributed to the Nazis’ eventual defeat. The Accidental Spy is as dynamic as the woman whose extraordinary story it tells.
— UK Jewish Film
Marthe Cohn, was born in Metz, France in 1920. She was a beautiful, young woman living across the German border in France, when Hitler rose to power. As the Nazi occupation escalated, Marthe's sister was sent to Auschwitz while her family fled to the South of France.
Marthe chose to fight back, and joined the intelligence service of the First French Army. Utilizing her perfect German accent and Aryan appearance, Marthe posed as a German nurse desperately trying to obtain word of a fictional fiancé. She traveled the countryside and approached troops sympathetic to her plight, thereby obtaining critical information for the Allied commanders.
For her bravery, Marthe was awarded the Croix de Guerre and Médaille Militaire. When at age 80, Cohn was awarded France's highest military honour, the Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur (Legion of Honour), not even her children knew to what extent this modest woman faced death daily to defeat the Nazi empire. At its heart, this remarkable story is the tale of an ordinary human being who, under extraordinary circumstances, became the hero her country needed her to be.
In 2002 Marthe penned her memoir, Behind Enemy Lines: The True Story of a French Jewish Spy in Nazi Germany. She lives together with her husband in Palos Verdes, CA and travels internationally, sharing her remarkable story.
— Arts Commons, Calgary