Inge J. Cohn

Age 80: She fled Nazi Germany and went on to run a kosher bakery with her husband for more than 50 years.

May 10, 2008|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,Sun Reporter

Inge J. Cohn, who fled Nazi Germany and worked alongside her husband at their kosher bakery for more than 50 years, died of multiple organ failure April 30 at Northwest Hospital Center. The Reisterstown resident was 80.

"She was a very independent person," said her daughter, Leah Cohn Wander, who now owns and operates the business with her brother. "She loved the work she did, but most of all she loved being alongside Daddy at the shop."

Born Inge J. Falkenstein in Wuppertal, Germany, she completed four grades of elementary schooling before the German government cut off education to Jewish students.

"She basically lost her childhood, like so many other Holocaust survivors," her daughter said. "She wasn't even allowed to take swimming lessons in Germany."

Her family fled Germany in 1939 and settled in La Paz, Bolivia, where she met her future husband, Fred B. "Fritz" Cohn, at a small bakery he had recently opened. He too was a German-born Jew who had fled the Nazis.

"One day a cute, redheaded girl with green eyes walked in and became a sales lady for him. She was a real spitfire," said her daughter. "Her job did not last that long, but their marriage lasted 57 years."

Family members said that Mrs. Cohn, who spoke German, Spanish and English, developed an affection for Bolivia, where she and her husband resided for nearly 13 years. The family had the Bolivian tune "El Condor Pasa" played during her funeral.

In 1954, the Cohns moved to Baltimore with $50 in savings. Mr. Cohn took baking jobs, first at the old Nate's and Leon's deli on West North Avenue and later at a bakery in the old Hilltop Diner in Northwest Baltimore.

In 1960, the couple opened Freddy's Bakery on Garrison Boulevard, and in 1965 they bought Goldman's Kosher Bakery at Rogers and Park Heights avenues. In 1973 they moved Goldman's to the Fallstaff Shopping Center on Reisterstown Road, where it remains and is operated by their children.

Mrs. Cohn ran the bookkeeping operations for the bakery and hired the sales help. She also lent a hand with some of the baking - she helped prepare the challah for the Sabbath.

She arrived for work at 5 a.m. and set up the showcases for the 7 a.m. openings.

"She was very strict, a tough cookie," said her daughter. "If she saw you were working with one hand, she would question why you were given two."

Over the years, the elder Cohns were joined by their son, Max Louis Cohn, and daughter, Leah, both Reisterstown residents.

"My mother and father worked side by side for more than 50 years," her daughter said. "They had their moments, too. My mother sometimes quit. Then my father would quit. But none of us could be fired. There were times when I would just like to get fired for three days."

Mr. Cohn died in July 2006. Mrs. Cohn continued to work but became depressed at her husband's death. She lapsed into poor health three months later.

"She died of a broken heart," her daughter said.

Her family left her desk at the bakery untouched.

Services were held May 2 in Pikesville.

In addition to her daughter and son, survivors include another daughter, Ruth Avrahami, also of Reisterstown; three grandchildren; and two great-granddaughters.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

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