“I'd rather regret the things that I have done than the things that I have not.”
― Lucille Ball

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Episode 9: Cohen becomes Coenman

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Izak Cohen/Coenman during the 50 years commemoration
of the liberation of Hengelo (May 1995)

Cohen becomes Coenman

Izak continues the business as a trader of vegetables on his own. While purchasing at the auction he sits regularly near to Levie. But the brothers don't communicate. Sometimes Izak's son Julius joins his father. If he has a chat with his uncle Levie, he gets
chided for it from his father.

The decision of Levie and Rozetta to emigrate in 1970 towards Israel, cools down the relation between the brothers even more. Izak feels betrayed by his brother.

Levie carries on for only one year. The promised land Israel is not what he expected. "They are not waiting for Levie at the citrus auction", is his conclusion. He returns to The Netherlands and apart from other activities, he starts exporting apples to Canada.

Izak takes another quite stunning decision. He is continuously suffering from his surname. When he uses his name Cohen, he continuously gets a reaction like: "Oh, so you are a Jew?". He feels there is a latent presence of antisemitism. In 1980 he officially requests the queen *)  to allow him to change his surname. The request is granted and the last years of his life his name is: Izak Coenman.  For his brother and sister this is a terribly decision.

Gradually Izak gets more and more annoyance from his war experiences. In Britain and just after the liberation he was well known as a cheerful boy with humor and courage. That attitude is changing slowly changing into one of bitterness and dejection. Commemorations and reunions result in bad memories which were buried already in his mind. After a veterans commemoration day he becomes more silent and unreachable for his wife and children. During the night he cannot sleep and starts walking restlessly in the neighborhood.

In 1995 Izak is a guest of honor during the big fifty years commemoration of the liberation of Hengelo. He is sitting on the stage as a proud veteran, with his many distinctions on his jacket, surrounded by the mayor and councilors. But after his smile there is sadness. "It was a bad day", he says later to his children. "The commemoration is basically coming too late", he says.

*) note translator: not sure if it was daughter Juliana or grand daughter Beatrix of queen Wilhelmina, who granted his request. If the request was indeed issued in 1980 it surely was Beatrix, as such a request takes usually a year or more to process.

Translation by Leo Kolwijck, 2014


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