Henri Max Cohen was born in 1903 in Oldenzaal, a small town in the east of the Netherlands very near to the German border. He died there in 1962. He was the youngest son in a Jewish family of four children; a genealogical study tells us that his family had already settled in the Netherlands around 1770. At his Brit Milah and Bar Mitzvah he was named Chaim Moses Cohen, but he was known as Henri Max Cohen until 1955 when he changed his surname from Cohen to Corwin. It was the time of the Cold War and many Jews emigrated to the United States by fear of a new world war. He hoped that this name change might serve as some protection for his family.
In his early years he graduated from grammar school and he decided to enrol in law school at Leiden University. Due to his father’s bad health he soon had to return to Oldenzaal to run the family business.
In those years he was not only able to spend time enlarging his stamp collection but also to devote himself to another hobby: the theatre. He wrote plays, acted and directed many productions.
In the thirties, when the situation for Jews in Germany became unbearable, he acted as a courier for the Jewish Refugee Committee in Amsterdam, taking refugees across the Dutch/German border, often assisted by his