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The book I wrote is not just another story of the horrendous Holocaust but also rather a saga of hope and survival. Having cheated death four times it is a memoir of perseverance filled with my own philosophy of life, faith and humor which took me over four continents from Germany, China, Australia, Israel and finally the United States from tears through laughter including my fight to overcome throat cancer.

In the wake of the horrifying tragedy of the six million Jews who perished during the Second World War, many Jews lost faith in their precious heritage. As for me, the opposite is true. It strengthened my religious belief in discovering new meaning by overcoming deprivation and suffering to find a better life. The lesson of the Shanghai Ghetto as a way station has become my saving grace to never give up how dismal the future may appear. 

I believe it is the first story of its kind describing the life and education of a cantor. The content of the memoir is meant to be of general interest also to non-Jewish readers, being historical, educational, and inspiring. It stresses the experience of an individual from the horrors of the past to spiritual renewal that life is good. For me the American Dream is still alive.


Risen from the Ashes

Tales of a Musical Messenger

By Hans Cohn


“An inspiring story of persecution, survival, adventure, courage, faith, and spirituality charmingly told by an extraordinary human being.”
W. Michael Blumenthal, Director of Jewish Museum Berlin, former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, and fellow former Shanghai refugee


“Hans Cohn has given us a great gift, a remarkable personal saga of courage and commitment. Hans Cohn’s story is a living spark of inspiration that transcends the impact of the furious fires of Kristallnacht as well as the arsonist’s torch of his California synagogue. A Journey of oppression, hope and renewal, this book will never be forgotten by those who read it.”

— Lee S. Shulman, President, The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching


Risen from the Ashes is one man’s memoir of hope and survival during the Holocaust. Having cheated death four times through perseverance, hope, faith, and humor, Hans Cohn vividly narrates his experience from the horrors of the past to spiritual renewal..


Early Years

China Years

From Chef to Cantor
Musical Messenger 
Sickness and Loss

Looking Back


Cantor Hans Cohn was born in 1926 in Berlin, Germany. In 1939, with the outbreak of the Second World War, his family fled to Shanghai where he remained until 1946. After coming to America in 1947, he attended Hebrew Union College-School of Sacred Music, where he received his Cantor’s degree. He studied voice with Alexander Kipnis at the Manhattan School of Music. He earned his Masters in Education from Stanford University. He served as the Cantor at Temple Beth Jacob in Redwood City, California for 31 years until his retirement in 1994. In 2002, he received an Honorary Doctorate of Music from Hebrew Union College. He resides in Palo Alto, California and is still an active member of his temple and community.



ISBN 0-7618-3283-1      222 Pages       Paper        Price: $24.95 
December 2005