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In memoriam of Hans Cohn

Mr Hans Cohn (6 May 1923 – 28 January 2018)

Mr Hans Cohn was born in Berlin in 1923. In September 1934, he was hit by a classmate, who was a member of the Hitler Youth and the son of an official high up in the Nazi party. The single blow caused a retinal detachment in his left eye. Several ophthalmic specialists in Germany refused to treat him because he was Jewish. His parents took him to a surgeon in the Netherlands, but two operations failed to save his left eye. Not long after Mr Cohn lost sight in his right eye.

In May 1938, his parents decided to send him to Worcester College, a school for the blind in England. His mother came to live in England in February 1939. His father died in a concentration camp.

At the age of nineteen Mr Cohn had measles. On recovering he found his hearing further damaged. As a child he had a slight hearing defect. Hearing aids proved to be a great help.

After qualifying as a physiotherapist in 1945, Mr Cohn worked for twenty years in a general hospital before settling down to a thriving private practice in the house in which he lived.

Mr Cohn enjoyed a long marriage to his second wife, Stefi Steinhart. Stefi had retinitis pigmentosa (RP) and she became almost totally blind towards the end of her life. Stefi passed away in 2017.

Mr Cohn was a keen chess player and assisted the Blind Chess Association with some of its publications, later becoming its Chief Executive. Awarded an MBE for his work in support of education, social equality and career opportunities he achieved great things for people with sight loss during his lifetime.

He was an enthusiastic skier, travelling alone to the alps to cross country ski, which caused his wife a great deal of worry. He only stopped skiing at the age of 89 when he broke his hip.

He had a great interest in Braille and could read Braille in three languages. He said, “Reading has made me what I am. Somebody who can contribute to making the lives of blind people better”.

Mr Cohn was a member of RNIB’s Executive Council for 30 years. He left an extremely generous donation in his Will to RNIB. The gift allowed RNIB to produce a collection of classic titles in braille, comprising some of the great works of literature. In honour of his generous gift, this collection is called the Hans Cohn collection. The titles in the collection are available to all braille library members and are listed below.

Apollodorus The Library of Greek Mythology

Hannah Arendt The Origins of Totalitarianism

Honoré de Balzac Eugénie Grandet

By Walter Benjamin

Selected writings. Volume 1, 1913-1926

Selected writings. Volume 2, part 1, 1927-1930

Selected writings. Volume 2, part 2, 1931-1934

Selected writings. Volume 3, 1935-1938

Selected writings. Volume 4, 1938-1940

Charlotte Brontë Villette

Ed. Colin Burrows Metaphysical Poetry

Catullus The Poems of Catullus

By Charles Dickens

Barnaby Rudge

Dombey and Son

Our Mutual Friend

The Pickwick Papers

The Signalman and Other Stories

No Thoroughfare (with Wilkie Collins)

By Fyodor Dostoyevsky

The Brothers Karamazov

The Idiot

By George Eliot

Daniel Deronda

Silas Marner

T. S. Eliot Collected Poems

Gustave Flaubert Madame Bovary

Ed. Helen Gardner The New Oxford Book of English Verse 1250-1950

By Elizabeth Gaskell

North and South

Mary Barton

By George Gissing

New Grub Street

The Nether World

The Whirlpool

Robert Graves The Greek Myths: the Complete and Definitive Edition

By Thomas Hardy

Return of the Native

Tess of the D'Urbevilles

Michael Haas Forbidden music: the Jewish composers banned by the Nazis

By Ernest Hemingway

A Farewell to Arms

For Whom the Bell Tolls

Homer The Odyssey

Herodotus The Histories

Horace The Satires of Horace and Persius

Victor Hugo Notre-Dame of Paris

Henry James The Europeans

Franz Kafka The Trial

Niccolò Machiavelli The Prince

Christopher Marlowe The Complete Plays by Christopher Marlowe

John Milton Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained

Molière The Misanthrope, Tartuffe, and Other Plays

By Marcel Proust

Swann's Way (In Search of Lost Time; 1)

Within a Budding Grove (In Search of Lost Time; 2)

The Guermantes Way (In Search of Lost Time; 3)

Sodom and Gomorrah (In Search of Lost Time; 4)

The Captive and The Fugitive (In Search of Lost Time; 5)

Time Regained (In Search of Lost Time; 6)

Alexander Pushkin Eugene Onegin

J. D. Salinger The Catcher in the Rye

By William Shakespeare


Henry IV Part I

Henry IV Part II

Henry VI Part I

King John

Measure for Measure

Richard II

Titus Andronicus

The Two Gentlemen of Verona

Bram Stoker Dracula

Leo Tolstoy Anna Karenina

By William Thackeray

The History of Henry Esmond

The History of Pendennis

The Newcomes

By Anthony Trollope

Barchester Towers

Cousin Henry

Dr Wortle's School

Framley Parsonage

He Knew He Was Right

Lady Anna

Orley Farm

Phineas Finn

Phineas Redux

Rachel Ray

The American Senator

The Belton Estate

The Duke's Children

The Eustace Diamonds

The Prime Minister

The Small House at Allington

The Way We Live Now

Richard Brinsley Sheridan The Rivals

By George Steiner

Language and Silence

The Sporting Scene: White Knights of Reykjavik

Sun-Tzu The Art of War

Virgil The Aeneid

Voltaire Candide

By Elie Wiesel

Night (Night Trilogy; 1)

Dawn (Night Trilogy; 2)

Day (Night Trilogy; 3)

Virginia Woolf Mrs Dalloway