Cohn family: personal papers

Language of Description
1 Jan 1857 - 31 Dec 1973
Level of Description
  • English
  • German
  • Italian
EHRI Partner

Extent and Medium

4 folders


Biographical History

Joseph Cohn, born in 1832, married Johanna ('Hannchen') Jacobsohn, born in 1831. They were both born and lived in Filehne, Posen area of Prussia (now Wieleń, Poland). Their son, Heimann ('Heinrich') Cohn was born in 1864 in Aschenbude, Posen. He was a merchant who owned the clothing business 'Warenhaus H Cohn' in Filehne.

Heinrich Cohn married Ella Lesheim (1878-1955). They had three sons: Harry (1902-1916), Herbert (1904-2002) and Paul (1906-1985). Ella's parents were Aron (born 1845) and Hedwig Lesheim (née Sussmann, born in 1848). When Heinrich and Ella Cohn had to leave Poland to keep their German nationality in 1920, Ella's mother applied for permission for them to move to Berlin to stay with her (see letter by Hedwig Lesheim).

Ella's brother Bruno Lesheim and his wife Anna lived together with Bruno's sister Betty (born in 1879 in Jacobshagen) and her husband Leonhard Simonsohn. They had a daughter, Margot. Ella's brother Bruno Lesheim and Betty's husband Leonhard Simonsohn (1879-1941) owned the furniture company, Carl Böhm.

Hedwig Lesheim died in 1939. Only Ella Cohn survived of her children. Betty was murdered at Riga concentration camp in 1942. Ella's brother Bruno was killed in 1941. Ella and Heinrich Cohn emigrated to England by ship via Genova to Southampton in 1939. Heinrich died in London in 1947. It is not clear from the collection how their sons emigrated. However, Herbert (changed his name to Curtis) died in London in 2002 and Paul Cohn died in Amsterdam in 1985.


Donated by John Curtis

Scope and Content

This collection contains the personal papers of three generations of the Cohn family, who originally came from Posen in Prussia (now Poland) and came to England as refugees in 1939. The material consists of Joseph and Johanna Cohn's papers such as innkeeper licence, last wills and title deeds; papers of Heimann and Ella Cohn including household insurance policy with war emergency clauses, business registration document, contracts and accounts booklets relating to Heimann Cohn's companies in Filehne and Berlin, goodbye dinner menu from the ship "Christiaan Huygens" which they travelled on to England, and Ella Cohn's restitution claim; as well as Herbert Cohn's (later Curtis) correspondence relating to his restitution claim.

System of Arrangement

Chronological and by subject

Conditions Governing Access

See Wiener Library access conditions at:

Related Units of Description

  • See also: WL1551 Ruth Dina Curtis: personal papers, 1937-2000; WL1676 Curtis family: copy correspondence


  • NB136



Corporate Bodies


This description is derived directly from structured data provided to EHRI by a partner institution. This collection holding institution considers this description as an accurate reflection of the archival holdings to which it refers at the moment of data transfer.