Cohn, Werner, 1926-

Alternative names
Birth 1926

Biographical notes:

Born in Berlin in 1926, Werner Cohn received his BSS in Sociology from City College (New York) in 1951. He completed his MA (1954) and PhD (1956) at the New School for Social Research. He joined the University of British Columbia's Department of Anthropology and Sociology in 1960 and remained there until taking early retirement in 1986. Cohn's research focused on the sociology of Jews and small political movements. In particular, Cohn developed an interest in researching Gypsies. He began his research on this topic in 1966/67 during a sabbatical in France. He continued with his studies of the Gypsy culture and language and returned to Europe meeting with Gypsy groups and with many well known scholars of the Gypsies. Over the years Cohn wrote numerous articles on the Gypsies in various scholarly journals and in 1973 he wrote The Gypsies which summarized his findings in the field.

From the description of Werner Cohn fonds. 1959-1993. (University of British Columbia Library). WorldCat record id: 606456942

Else Rosenbaum was born on December 12, 1895 in Stettin, (then in Germany, now Szczecin, Poland), the daughter of the businessman Naumann Rosenbaum and Ella Rosenbaum née Friedländer. She had two sisters Lotte (who married Arthur Perl) and Käthe (who married Alfred Hanff).

Her father, Naumann Rosenbaum, owned the Naumann Rosenbaum Department Store in Stettin until his death in 1911. After his death his widow ran the store until it was "aryanized" by the Nazis. She later married Guido Rieß.

In 1920, Else Rosenbaum married the physician James Cohn from Berlin, where the family later resided. They had a son, Werner, born in 1926. In October 1938 the Cohns immigrated to New York. James Cohn died in February 1940.

In Europe, the Naumann Rosenbaum store in Stettin was bombed during an Allied attack on the city. Ella Rieß was deported; Else Cohn received official notification of her mother's death in 1945. Her sister Käthe and brother-in-law Alfred Hanff perished in the Majdanek concentration camp along with their son Hans-Jürg. The Hanffs' other son Dietrich was sent to England, where he survived the war.

In 1944 Else Cohn became a naturalized citizen of the United States. In New York City she worked as a nurse and eventually came to reside in the neighborhood of Washington Heights. Her son Werner went on to become a sociologist and taught at the University of British Columbia's Department of Anthropology and Sociology. Although many of his published works center on Roma culture (Gypsies), the subject for which he is best known, his writings also concern various other groups and topics, such as Zionists, Jehovah's Witnesses, Chinese culture and Catholics, among many others.

From the guide to the Werner Cohn Collection, 1848-1980, bulk 1920-1975, (Leo Baeck Institute)


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Ark ID:


  • Jewish physicians
  • Restitution
  • Restitution claims (1933- )
  • Emigration and immigration
  • Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)


not available for this record


  • Szczecin (Poland) (as recorded)