There is danger in the air, I can smell it

Only FIVE of the 67 Jewish inhabitants of Oldenzaal, a small city in the east of the Netherlands, survived the Second World War

Click here to view the album Danger in the air
Nora Corwin (1939) is the third and youngest daughter of the couple Henri Max Cohen and Dientje ter Mors. On 4th June 1955, the family changed their surname from Cohen in Corwin.

Nora already had obtained the final diploma of the AKI – the Academy for Art and Industry in Enschede when she went to the University of Groningue in 1960 to study Art History. In 1978 she  founded in The Hague a real estate agency run exclusively by women, from which she retired in the year 2000.

Irked by an anti-semitic remark of a former colleague, she decided to record the history of her Jewish father under the title : “There is danger in the air, I can smell it.

In the book, she describes in a serious but also light-hearted manner the entire life of Henri Max Cohen in three phases :

  • from 1903 – 1940 when he as a member of the closely knit Jewish community of Oldenzaal
  • from 1940 – 1945, the oppressive war years during which he had to be invisible but remained very active
  • the years from his too early death in 1962, a period during which he gave many passionate lectures about the fate of the Jews during the war and documented the genealogy of many Jewish families in the east of the Netherlands

Three years after the defeat of Germany, the empty synagogue of Oldenzaal was used by the Public Cleaning Department of the municipality of Oldenzaal as a storage space and they installed a public toilet right next to it. This was in line with the general attitude of the Dutch at that time  when there was an atmosphere of total indifference with respect to the surviving Jews.

You can read the book in full by clicking on the image of its cover above.