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Jewish Heritage: The Oral Histories - Cuba Family Archives

MEMOIRIST:                       JUDGE AARON COHN


LOCATION:                        ATLANTA, GEORGIA

DATE:                                 APRIL 16, 2000 

Transcript (PDF)


Judge Aaron Cohn was born in Columbus, Georgia, on March 3, 1916, to Sam and Etta Cohn.  He was a first-generation American.  His mother was from Kiev, Ukraine.  His father was from Lithuania and went into the livestock trade in Columbus.  Judge Cohn grew up on a farm next to the Fort Benning army base.  He was educated at public school and graduated from Columbus High School in 1932.  He graduated from the University of Georgia law school in 1938.  In 1940, he volunteered for military service.  He was a Combat Operations Officer in General Patton’s 3rd Cavalry Group and participated in four major campaigns in Europe, including the Battle of the Bulge.  He helped liberate the Ebensee Concentration Camp in 1945.  After the war, he returned to Georgia and became a lawyer and a well-respected judge.  He was a member of Temple Israel.  He married Janet Ann Lilienthal in 1941.  They have three children.


Judge Aaron Cohn talks about his childhood in Columbus, Georgia, and living near the Fort Benning army base.  He mentions riding horses as a child and how it inspired his interest to later join the army.  He talks about his education at public school, music lessons, and Hebrew school.  He reminisces about his classmates, Jewish and non-Jewish, and remembers playing sports at the YMCA.  He talks about attending the University of Georgia law school and remembers playing tennis with his classmates.  He speaks about several Nazi student exchange students on campus and recounts their conversations.  Judge Cohn discusses joining the military service in 1940 and describes various combat operations in General Patton’s army, including the Battle of the Bulge, and as liberator of Ebensee concentration camp in Austria in 1945. 

Judge Cohn discusses returning to Columbus in 1946 to resume his law practice.  He reflects on his decision to retire from the army and accept the appointment as Juvenile Court Judge.  He speaks about joining Temple Israel.  He discusses his family, antisemitism, the Civil Rights Movement, and the need for civic involvement.  He talks about his wife, Janet Ann Lilienthal, and their three children.  

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