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Stolperstein plaque for Karolina Cohn

In the beginning there was a charm with a birth date found by archaeologist Yoram Haimi and his Polish colleagues in 2006 in the grounds of the former Sobibor extermination camp. Yad Vashem announced the discovery, leading several historians and TAZ journalist Klaus Hillenbrand to carry out research and discover to whom the charm had belonged: Karolina Cohn, born on July 3, 1929, in Frankfurt am Main.

The Jewish girl was deported by train to Minsk on November 12, 1941. There are no other documents about her fate – or the fate of most of the 6,959 Jews who were transported to Minsk on seven trains between November 7 and 11, 1941. Klaus Hillenbrand traced the path of these people’s suffering, which led them to the ghetto in Minsk, where they performed forced labor, and then to executions in gas vans and the transports to Sobibor.

In the ITS archives, the journalist found a document that played an important role in attributing the charm to Karolina Cohn: a list from the Frankfurt Gestapo about the second transport from Frankfurt to Minsk, with the names and birth dates of Karolina and her family.

On the initiative of the Claims Conference, the artist Gunter Demnig will install a brass Stolperstein plaque for them on November 13, 2017, on Thomasius Strasse in Frankfurt am Main, the family’s last voluntary place of residence. Although most of the immediate family fell victim to the Holocaust, it was possible to find some descendants. Nearly 30 of the girl’s relatives from the USA, Canada, Israel and Japan will be at the memorial ceremony. Most of them did not previously know each other, but the search for traces of Karolina brought them together.