Biographical Notes

Frank Correl, formely Dieter Hans Cohn
Visit program 2006
1929 – 2021
School: Hassel-Realschule in Oederweg

Sister: Ellen Lehner, née Cohn
Visit program 2009
School: Anna-Schmidt-Schule

Siblings took part in a Kindertransport to Great Britain on 10 August 1939
1943 onward migration to the USA

Siegfried Fritz Cohn
November 1938 emigration to South Africa via Great Britain, 1939 Mozambique, 1941 USA

Else Cohn, geb. Ziegenmeyer
1940 emigration to Mozambique, 1941 USA

Fürstenbergerstraße 45

Konfectionshaus D. Cohn, from1933 Wagner& Schloetel, Zeil 109


Hessian State Archive Wiesbaden (Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv Wiesbaden HHStAW)
Datenbank „Deportierte Juden aus Frankfurt am Main“, Jüdisches Museum Frankfurt, Texte: zeitsprung. Kontor für Geschichte, Frankfurt am Main
Conversation by Frank Corel at Ernst Reuter-Schule 1 in Frankfurt on 14 Juni 2006, teacher: Birgit Ausbüttel
Report by Frank Correl on his visit to Frankfurt in June 2006
Quesstionnaire by Frank Correl und correspondence with Regine Wolfart and Angelika Rieber
Information Hans-Peter Klein
Private photos and documents of the Correl family
Photos from the visit to Frankfurt: Angelika Rieber
Kurt Schäfer: Schulen und Schulpolitik in Frankfurt am Main 1900-1945, Frankfurt 1994
Ingrid Fuchs: „Wir haben keinerlei Kompromisse geschlossen“. Käthe Heisterbergk und die Anna-Schmidt-Schule in Frankfurt während der Zeit des Nationalsozialismus, Frankfurt 2018
Angelika Rieber u.a. (Hrsg.) Rettet wenigstens die Kinder. Kindertransporte aus Frankfurt am Main – Lebenswege geretteter Kinder, Frankfurt 2018

Text and research: Angelika Rieber

Frank and Ellen Correl

The journey of a lifetime

by Angelika Rieber

Frank Correl and his sister Ellen would have liked to have come to Frankfurt again for the inauguration of the memorial to the Kindertransport, through which thousands of children, including the two siblings, were saved. This reunion with their birthplace was no longer granted to them. Ellen Lehner died in November 2020, and her brother Frank died a few weeks later in January 2021.

The siblings had participated in the visit program of the city of Frankfurt in 2006 and 2009, but separately from each other. Full of new impressions, Frank Correl returned from the visit to Frankfurt and reported about it to friends and acquaintances. Their curiousity led him to record his varied and moving experiences in a detailed personal report, which will be incorporated in many places and can be found as an appendix.

“Mischlinge 1st degree”

Dieter Hans Cohn was born on January 3, 1929 in Frankfurt, and his sister Ellen almost two years later. The family lived first in Gervinusstraße, later in Fürstenbergerstraße in Frankfurt’s Nordend.

Their previously carefree lives were increasingly limited when the Nazis came to power in 1933. The two siblings were declared “Mischlinge first degree” because while their mother was Christian and qualified as “Aryan” in the language of the new rulers, their father was Jewish.

When Dieter Hans came to school in 1935, he first went to the nearby Holzhausen Schule. There he was moved into a specially established Jewish class, which is why a year later the parents decided to send the boy to a private school, to the Hassel Realschule at Öderweg 56. There he was in good company; the physicist Philipp Reis and the poet Friedrich Stoltze had once walked those same halls. Many “non-Aryans”, especially “Mischlinge” and Christians of Jewish origin, attended private schools.

In fact, the proportion of Jewish children in secondary schools would be limited to 1.5% according to the ideas of the National Socialists.

Frank remembered in particular a teacher, Otto Rüb, who had been dismissed from the state school service in 1933 because he was close to the Communists. Two years later, however, Rüb was given limited permission to teach in private schools. After the war, Rüb became headmaster in Frankfurt, apart from a brief interruption, when he was dismissed due to “political unreliability”, but was reinstated a year later due to numerous submissions from parents, colleagues and the school authority. It was the time of the Cold War.

Before his visit to Frankfurt, Frank Correl had contacted Regine Wolfart, a volunteer of the Project Jewish Life in Frankfurt, and asked for information about the Hassel-Realschule. In fact, she was able to find something in the city archive,and gave him a stack of copies of the school’s history. With the greatest interest Frank devoured the numerous documents. In particular the school newspaper caught his interest, and brought back many memories. For example, they had to visit the cinema of the UFA-Palast at the Eschenheimer Turm on Hitler’s birthday on April 20, 1939, to see a film about the Battle of Tannenberg and the Masurian lakes. Shortly before, the National Socialists had invaded Czechoslovakia and occupied Memel. Such films had the aim to legitimise the claim to these areas, and thus also to legitimize the attacks contrary to international law.

Frank Correl walked the city on foot and visited the places of his childhood. This included the Eschenheimer Turm, which at that time dominated the whole area. “My favorite Frankfurt Landmark”. The facilities surrounding the tower were used by the school as an extracurricular learning place. “I recall traversing them often as a child and being marched there from school with my botanic class to study the trees.” (p. 4) However, the school building is no longer there.

His sister Ellen attended the private girls’ school Anna-Schmidt, which in 1936 had a high proportion of 23.5% of “non-Aryan” schoolgirls (Schäfer: 350). At that time the school was located at Blitterdorffplatz. Ellen Lehner used her visit to Frankfurt in 2009 to talk to young people at the Anna Schmidt School, accompanied by Elisabeth Reinhuber, who was a student there along with her younger sister Agathe (see biography of Elisabeth Reinhuber). Agathe Calvelli-Adorno and Ellen Cohn even went to the same class.

As a contemporary witness, Elisabeth Reinhuber stated of this school: “You know for sure that the then director, Käthe Heisterbergk, was extraordinarily courageous after 1933 and took Jewish children and those with Jewish ancestors into her school and protected them. The Anna Schmidt Schule was a refuge in the dark period, was a kind of escape castle of which you could be proud.” (Mail by Elisabeth Reinhuber to the school of 19.4.2009)

Family roots distant to the Frankfurt-am-Main metropolis

The mother of the two siblings, Else Elise Ziegenmeyer, was born in Hildesheim, the father Siegfried Fritz Cohn, in Frankfurt. From the distant Neustadt an der Pinne, in today’s Poland, his grandfather David Cohn had come to Frankfurt. The grandmother Bertha Kaufmann came from Melsungen in northern Hesse. The two sisters of Fritz Cohn lived very close, which is why Dieter Hans remembered them and their future fate. Aunt Martha was married to Felix Ochs, a mining engineer who worked for the Metallgesellschaft. Frank remembers the Bar Mitzvah of his two cousins, the twin brothers Stefan and Richard Ochs, 1935 in Frankfurt. Thus, it was not only important for the former Frankfurter to visit the apartment in Fürstenbergerstraße, where he had grown up, but also to include the house of Aunt Martha in Grillparzerstraße near the Dornbusch in another “walking event”. Frank had particularly vivid memories of the extensive garden there.

From Grillparzerstraße, Hanne and Frank walked on their way back to the Holzhausen School, which little Dieter Hans had attended before changing to the Hassel-Real-Schule in Oederweg a year later. They passed the Fuerstenbergerstraße and the imposing building of the IG Farben, now the Frankfurt University.

Aunt Gertrud, the second sister of Fritz Cohn, was married to Richard Purwin and lived in Kronberg. The Cohns often visited there in the summer. That is why Frank wanted to visit the place where he spent “idyllic summers” during his stay in Frankfurt, until the Purwins left Germany in 1934. Together with his wife, Frank explored the place on the edge of the Taunus, recalling that he had seen the Zeppelin from there, hiked to Königstein, “another town of happy memories”, and enjoyed the wonderful view of Kronberg and the Rhine-Main plain and impressive castle ruins of Falkenstein and Königstein.

His grandfather David Cohn died in Frankfurt in 1927 before Dieter Hans saw the light of day. The importance of a visit to his grandfather’s grave in the Jewish cemetery of Rat-Beil-Straße could already be seen from the fact that even before the visit to Frankfurt he expressed the wish to go to this cemetery.

Clothing store Wagener & Schlötel, Zeil 109

Dieter Hans and Ellen grew up without material worries. Their father worked in the family independent business, the Damenconfectionshaus D. Cohn Jr. on Zeil 109 with about 300 employees. The business was founded by his grandfather David Cohn and later was managed jointly by Fritz Cohn and his brother-in-law Richard Purwin. After Fritz Cohn was imprisoned by the Nazis for a few days in April 1933, and Richard Purwin was forced to leave the company and emigrate due to threats, the entrepreneur teamed with an “Aryan” partner, Karl Stier, to form a company that then, possibly for pragmatic reasons, called itself Wagener & Schlötel. “This also became the new, more acceptable name of our store. Ironically, the wife of Gauleiter (regional Nazi party leader) Sprenger was a good customer.”

Fritz Cohn was also involved in social issues. Frank recalled the long queues of unemployed people waiting for vouchers for a hot meal that the entrepreneur handed them. Such relief efforts tried to alleviate the consequences of the devastating global economic depression.

In 1938 Fritz Cohn had to bow to the increasing pressure of “Aryanization” through the National Socialists, sold his share to his business partner, and prepared to emigrate. In contrast to many other Jewish co-owners, some of whom were heavily harassed and sometimes cheated by not only the Nazi authorities, but also by their business partners or the DAF (Deutsche Arbeitsfront), the two owners were able to reach a fair and amicable agreement.

But the hope of a new beginning abroad was destroyed by the “Sicherungsanrodnung” (“security order”) by which the family could no longer freely dispose of their assets. According to the letter of the “Zollfahndunggsstelle” (“Customs Investigation Office”) dated 15 September 1938, this measure was necessary “because there can be no doubt that Cohn wants to emigrate, since he also wants to leave his apartment on 1 October and, according to his wife, only wants to move into a few rooms with a local relative.” After the sale of their house in March 1938, Else and Fritz moved temporarily with their two children to Martha and Felix Ochs’ residence in Grillparzerstraße. The attempt by Fritz Cohn and Felix Ochs to save at least part of the assets through an industrial transfer via a loan failed due to the lack of reliability of their contract partner Adolf Kämpfer, who threatened them with his good contacts at the Reich Ministry of Economics. If the contract is not completed, campaigners said, it would have a negative impact on the German economy and could have unpleasant consequences for the two families. The disputes led to months of legal wrangling and ended with a loss-making compromise. (HHStAW 474/3 191)

November pogrom

On November 10, Kristallnacht, Else Cohn experienced a devastating top-to-bottom search of the house by the Gestapo, who even looked under the coal in the basement. Fortunately the two men had already left the Frankfurt area. As the family prepared for emigration, Felix Ochs was in Berlin, and his brother-in-law Fritz Cohn was already abroad.

On his way to school Dieter Hans witnessed the riots on 9/10 November 1938. Opposite the school in Oederweg there was a branch of the well-known and popular delicatessen chain “Wittwe Hassan”. At that time there were only 4 branches of 37 stores left in and around Frankfurt. The windowpanes of the shop were smashed, the street littered with shards, and the food thrown out. SA men were posted outside the devastated store. Walter Sommers, son of the former owner of the chain, remembers that he had to come from Hamburg to repair the damage caused during the November pogrom together with his uncle Ernst Sommer. Walter’s father Julius Sommer was arrested and taken to Buchenwald. (see Ron Sommer und Margot Sommer)

Faced with the visible consequences of the riots, the school sent the children home that day. On his way back, Dieter Hans passed a Jewish butcher’s shop, which was devastated in the same way as the Wittwe-Hassan shop where everything had been smashed to pieces.

While the family had hoped before the November pogrom that things could not get any worse, the riots on the 9th and 10th of November destroyed any hope of continuing to live in Germany, and any hope of rebuilding in another country. The “Reichsfluchtsteuer” (imperial flight tax) and the “Sühneleistung” (atonement), under which Jews not only had to repair the damage of the pogroms at their own expense, and pay a special tax, and in particular the “Sicherungsanordnung” (“security order”) that denied them the disposal of their assets, took away from them any prospect of a professional future in another country. Shortly before the November pogrom Fritz Cohn traveled to London to explore possible career prospects. Hours before the riots of November 9, 1938, he fled to Johannisburg, where his sister Gertrud lived, and later to Portuguese East Africa, now Mozambique. Due to the huge demand on visas to the USA after the November pogrom, a direct emigration to America was not possible. Thanks to good relations, however, his brother-in-law Felix Ochs was able to quickly reach the USA on the Swiss quota and catch up with his family. The two women who remained in Frankfurt had their hands full obtaining the necessary papers to emigrate legally. By this time Felix and Martha Ochs had already put their twins in a children’s home established by the Quakers in Eerde in Holland in 1935. (see (Link to) Family Leo)

The family is torn apart

So Else Cohn decided to send Ellen and Dieter Hans to England on the Kindertransport with the support of the Quakers, who were particularly committed to the group of “Mischlinge” and to Christians of Jewish origin. In order to be able to pay the costs of the transport of the children, Else Cohn had to audition at Dresdner Bank first because she could no longer freely dispose of her assets due to the “Sicherungsanordnung” (“security order”). The bank, in turn, had to ask the “Devisenstelle” (“foreign exchange office”) for approval of the transfer.

At that time she was already living with her two children in a guesthouse in Kettenhofsweg in Frankfurt’s Westend. In February 1940, Else and her mother-in-law Bertha Cohn were finally able to follow Fritz Cohn to Mozambique. From there, they traveled via Argentina and Trinidad, where they were temporarily interned, to reach the United States in 1941.

Bertha Cohn, who also wanted to come to the USA, stayed in South Africa with her daughter Gertrude, who had become a widow in January 1939. Both women died there in 1942.

“Have you been afraid?” – Kindertransport to the UK

On August 10, 1939, the time had come. Dieter Hans and his sister Ellen left Frankfurt with a Kindertransport together with many other children. Three weeks later, the Second World War began, ending the rescue of children to Great Britain. Frank recalled that he became seasick on the boat crossing.

Felix Weil, who came to England with him on the same Kindertransport, was also a member of the visitor group in 2006. (see biography of Felix Weil) Since Felix Weil and Frank Correl had indicated August 10, 1939 as the day of departure in their questionnaire to the Project Jewish Life in Frankfurt, the volunteers of the project were able to bring the two children together – with far-reaching consequences. The two intensively discussed their memories of the Kindertransport and their later life and found some similarities. They had lived less than five minutes apart in Frankfurt. Both fathers were employed in the clothing business. They were particularly struck with saying goodbye to the relatives at the main railway station. “Were you afraid when you left Frankfurt?” asked Felix. “No,” Frank replied, because the mother had assured them that they would see each other again soon. This is what Felix Weil had experienced. Both looked forward to an interesting adventure. Unlike Frank, however, Felix did not see his parents and sister Henny again. Throughout his life Felix was tormented by an uneasy feeling that on the one hand he was happy to have escaped the nightmare, yet on the other hand he was burdened because at that time, he had not realized that he would never see his family again. They were deported and murdered with the first transport in October 1941 to Lodz. Nevertheless, Felix was relieved that Frank had a similar experience when he left their hometown. For both of them, the discussions with each other were of great importance. “I treasure meeting Mr. Weil and I consider our conversations one of the highlights of my time in Frankfurt.”

Frank Correl also recalled a long conversation with Ruth Barnett, herself a Kindertransport child, who came to Frankfurt from London at the invitation of the Project Jewish Life in Frankfurt to moderate a discussion with the numerous Kindertransport participants who took part in this visit program.

Since several siblings had left Germany together, one of the common questions was whether they could stay together during their time in England. Ellen and Dieter Hans, like many others, were among those who were separated from each other. Ellen was sent to a couple in the Midlands, by whom she was lovingly received. She stayed in contact with them until their death. During the four years in England, Dieter Hans could only see his sister three times. The 10-year-old first came to a school in London. He at first felt isolated, mainly because the climate towards the immigrants from Germany deteriorated with the beginning of the war. Shortly afterwards many children, and also Dieter Hans, were evacuated to the country because of the threat of the German Air Force, where he attended a one-class village school. There the teacher asked him to sing a German song. But which one? Eventually he sang the song “Ein Hund kam in die Küche” (A dog came into the kitchen). He got into a sweat when he had to translate the text – and got a lot of laughter. Even though his life was less steady than that of his sister – “I had a bit more circus!” – he felt it wasn’t really bad. However, he was burdened by the fact that sometimes he did not hear from his parents for a long time. The letters went through neutral Portugal. Dieter Hans and Ellen were finally able to move to the USA together in 1943 and were reunited with their parents. After four years of separation and war, they felt like they were in the Schlaraffenland (land of milk and honey).

Remembrance and Remembrance

Not all members of the Cohn and Kaufmann families survived. “What happened to my grandmother’s sisters?”, asked Frank Correl in one of his emails. The members of the project contacted Hans-Peter Klein, who researched the history of the former Jewish inhabitants in Melsungen, the place of origin of Bertha Kaufmann. Frank’s sister Ellen had sent him a photo of the Kaufmann sister. The picture is probably taken after the death of their father David Kaufmann in 1926, or possibly 1927, because his photo can be seen in the middle of the picture on the table.

So far, the fates of Bertha Kaufmann’s seven siblings have not been fully clarified. Selma Strauss died in Frankfurt in 1941, brother Eduard Kaufmann and his wife Paula in 1940 and 1941 in Amsterdam. Agnes Dalberg was deported to Theresienstadt in 1942, where she died a few days later. Her daughter Gertrud and son Robert were also deported – and survived. They emigrated to New Zealand after the liberation. However, Gertrude’s husband Emil Erich Narewczewitz died in Theresienstadt in 1943. Narewczewitz, originally a teacher in Eschwege, had been discharged from the state school service in 1935. For the last years he taught at the Philanthropin, the liberal Jewish school in Frankfurt.

During his visit to Frankfurt, Frank Correl was impressed by the memorial wall around the old cemetery at Boerneplatz. There he found not only the name of Erich Narewczewitz and Agnes Dalberg, but many other names that evoke memories in him. “The cemetery wall and its metal signs are an impressive memorial and will not soon slip from memory.” With his son Theo, who was able to accompany his father for a few days during the visit to Frankfurt, he went to the memorial wall again on the last day, shortly before the return flight.

His son’s brief visit was very important to Frank. Together with Theo, Frank and Hanne went once more to the most significant places in Frankfurt. Hanne heard Frank’s story a third time. Frank felt grateful and was very touched by his son’s great interest in his father’s place of birth. “I was gratified by the intense interest shown by Theo in my childhood days and his many questions.” He had visited Frankfurt with his son Stephen in 1987, but would have liked to return there to show Stephen the places of his childhood he had newly discovered. “Theo’s presence with us for the few days and his great interest in the Frankfurt scene and my childhood memories were very moving for me and a source of great satisfaction.” (see 18)

Dieter Hans Cohn becomes Frank Correl

When Ellen and Dieter Hans came to England, it was hard to think of regular school attendance. Frequent school changes, also due to the war situation, made schooling the children difficult. It was only in the USA that they were able to continue their training and, albeit with delays, successfully complete it. Just one year after arriving in the United States, the siblings decided to change their names. Dieter Hans Cohn called himself Frank Correl, and his sister Ellen Correl.

Both managed to gain a foothold in their new homeland. Frank later became involved in international development aid, and his sister Ellen became a mathematics professor.

Their parents missed their homeland, but adjusted to life in their new country. They opened a ladies’ clothing store in New Jersey. In 1952 Fritz Cohn, who had made a settlement with Wagener & Schlötel two years earlier, returned to Germany to clarify some questions about “reparation” or refund. On this trip to his former homeland, the former Frankfurter died suddenly in his holiday resort of Badenweiler, possibly because the burdens became too great for him.

In order to clarify all the formalities, Frank Correl returned to Germany for the first time and saw the ruins of the destroyed city. From the Roemer, the town hall, where the final reception took place on the last evening of the visit program, only the facade stood. Frank remembered the wonderful Christmas market in 1938, the last one he had experienced in Frankfurt.


Fifty years later, Frank Correl was back in Frankfurt, at the invitation of his hometown. It was a special journey for him. He found many familiar things, many things changed, and some surprises. Even the welcome in the VIP lounge at the airport impressed him. On the way from the airport, he looked amazed at the new skyline of the city with modern skyscrapers and noticed that Frankfurt has the nickname Mainhatten with a certain pride.

The visit program took place during the 2006 World Cup. Thus the Correls experienced with astonishment the city decorated with the flags of the most diverse nations. They enjoyed the international atmosphere, especially on the banks of the Main: “If the multitude of flags were not enough, the international character of this event was readily seen in the great variety of music and food and drink being offered – regional German specialities, Italian, Brazilian, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, Middle Eastern, and so on.” Again and again they were drawn to the banks of the Main. Every game night they were there and enjoyed the colorful mixture of sounds and smells. “It was a glorious, cacophonous hullabaloo and a great deal of fun!”

Frank also learned how international his birthplace is today in his conversation with young people at Ernst-Reuter-Schule 1 in the northwestern city. He found it remarkable that, in addition to his time in Frankfurt, the students were particularly interested in his experiences in Great Britain and were amazed at the extent to which London was threatened by the German Air Force. He also noticed that the young people were particularly impressed by the stories that were different from what they expected. For example, Frank told the story of a frightened teacher who snorted in an airstrike on London: “Why don’t you go back to Germany to your friend Hitler.” The students were particularly moved by a letter that Frank Correl read to them. It was a report of the NSDAP local group Dornbusch of 14 November 1938 denouncing the former business partner of his father, Karl Stier, who was accused of too close contact with Jews. Therefore, he was deemed not suitable to continue to be a reserve officer. In addition, his mail should be monitored. Frank Correl was thus able to counteract black-and-white images with his experiences.

Frank was pleased to see his maternal cousins, who came from Hildesheim to meet him. He showed them not only the sites of his childhood in Frankfurt, but also the Taunus, the Feldberg, Nieder- and Oberreifenberg and Königstein with the impressive castle ruins and Bad Homburg, popular excursion destinations from his childhood. Of course, a visit to a typical cider pub could not be missed. The sour Aeppelwoi, however, was not his favorite. “I definitely prefer the non-alcoholic version.”

The experiences that Frank and Hanne had during their 14-day visit to Frankfurt moved them a great deal. They are grateful to Frankfurt for the invitation and Regine Wolfart, who supported them before and during the visit, for all her research and the contacts she arranged.

„I am deeply grateful to the city of Frankfurt for the invitation and the meaningful experiences – mostly happy, but some decidedly somber – that the trip has given to me. It was indeed the trip of a lifetime!“