web analytics
November 29, 2014 / 7 Kislev, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
IDC Herzliya Campus A Day on Campus

To mark IDC Herzliya’s 20th anniversary, we spent a day following Prof. Uriel Reichman, IDC’s founder and president, and Jonathan Davis, VP for External Relations, around its delightful campus.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

The Amazing Saga Of Two-Gun Cohen

Plaut-083112

In November 1947, the United Nations was considering the creation of a Jewish state in parts of Western Palestine and a new Arab state in the other parts.

The hopes of the Jews rested in large part on China. The five-member Security Council had to approve putting the resolution before the General Assembly, but China, one of the five, was threatening to veto it.

The head of the Chinese delegation was approached by a hero of the Chinese campaign against the Japanese during World War II, a man who had been a general and senior adviser to President Sun Yat-sen. The general persuaded the delegation to abstain. The Security Council voted approval and the Partition Resolution was sent to the General Assembly, where it passed. Modern Israel came into existence.

The general who persuaded the Chinese not to oppose the resolution was not Chinese himself – but, in fact, a Jew born in Poland in 1887.

Morris Abraham Cohen was brought to London from Poland when he was still a toddler and grew up in the impoverished East End of London. By the time he was 12 he had become a skilled boxer and a pickpocket.

He quickly amassed a police arrest record and his family sent him to reform school until he was 16. Once released, he went to Canada to work on a farm in rural Saskatchewan, near some Indian reservations. The farming bored him; he preferred work as a carnival barker and con man. This got him arrested yet again and he did some jail time.

While wandering the Canadian West he became friendly with the local Chinese. Cohen liked Chinese cuisine (what Jew doesn’t?) and the Chinese outlook on life.

One day Cohen wandered into a Chinese eatery and realized the owner was being robbed. Cohen beat the robber to a pulp. The Chinese were so impressed, they embraced Cohen as one of their own. He joined the local chapter of nationalist leader Sun Yat-sen’s political movement and started to pick up some basic Chinese. Cohen raised funds for Sun’s movement and helped procure arms.

After serving in World War I as a Canadian soldier, Cohen headed off in 1922 to China with plans to work as a railroad developer. But once in Shanghai he found work as a writer on the English-language newspaper associated with Sun Yat-sen’s movement.

The Chinese called him Ma Kun (“clenched fist”), which was as close as they could get to Morris Cohen. He procured arms for a warlord of Canton in the 1920s and was adviser to Wu Tiecheng, the Canton police chief who later became mayor of Shanghai. Cohen began to serve as part of Sun’s guard force, and eventually commanded the entire 250-man presidential bodyguard unit.

Always armed, Cohen managed to defend Sun from more than one assassination attempt. After Cohen was wounded in his hand while driving off one group of assassins, he started carrying a second pistol and local Westerners immediately dubbed him “Two-Gun” Cohen, the nickname he carried with pride for the rest of his life.

Eventually he was appointed head of the Chinese secret service. His sidekick was another Jew, an anti-Soviet Russian named Moses Schwartzberg who had been part of a plot to assassinate Lenin in 1918.

Because of the importance of the Schwartzberg-Cohen pair, Yiddish became one of the three languages of the Chinese secret service, after Mandarin and English. Schwartzberg would later organize a regiment of 1,200 Jewish volunteers to fight for Israel in its War of Independence.

After Sun Yat-sen died, Two-Gun Cohen was named commander of the Chinese 19th field army. He worked for a while for Chinese President Chiang Kai-shek. He led Nationalist troops in fighting against both the Japanese and the Chinese communists. He was the only European ever to serve as a Chinese general.

When the Japanese invaded China in the 1930s, Cohen worked for British intelligence. Just after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hong Kong was invaded by the Japanese. Two-Gun got Sun Yat-sen’s widow out safely on one of the last planes to escape. Cohen himself was captured by the Japanese and thrown into the Stanley Prison Camp, where he was beaten and mistreated.

After the war he lived in Canada, where he helped the Zionists obtain arms for Israel’s War of Independence. He eventually returned to England, where he died in 1970. On his tombstone in Manchester his name appears in English, Hebrew, and Chinese characters. His funeral was attended by representatives from both Chinas, which were still at war with each another. It was the only thing in the world on which they could agree.

About the Author: Steven Plaut is a professor at the University of Haifa. He can be contacted at steveneplaut@yahoo.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “The Amazing Saga Of Two-Gun Cohen”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry .
NYT Ignores US Condemnation of PA Incitement, Prints Info on Ferguson Cop
Latest Indepth Stories
Kessim (religious leaders) mark the opening of a synagogue in the village of Gomenge, Ethopia, one of five built in Gondar with JDC aid, 1988
Courtesy of American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, New York.

In a world where people question whether they should be engaged, we are a reminder that all Jews are responsible for one another.

Greiff-112814-Levaya

My son is seventeen; he didn’t want to talk about what happened, or give any details of the Rosh Yeshiva’s words of chizuk.

Protesters in Ferguson, Missouri

All involved in the Ferguson debate should learn the laws pertinent to non-Jews: the Noahide Laws.

Charley Levine

Prominent Jewish leaders acknowledged that their predecessors had mistreated the Bergson Group.

Abbas has been adding new layers of rhetoric to his tactical campaign to de-Judaize Jerusalem

The Jew’s crime is his presence.

Hamas’s love for death tried to have as many Palestinian civilians killed as possible

Israel recognizes the fabrication called a Palestinian nation; So what do we want from the Swedes?

Arab attacking Jews in the land date back a century, long before Israel was created or in control.

Creativity without clarity is not sufficient for writing. I am eternally thankful to Hashem for his gift to me.

Golden presents a compelling saga of poor but determined immigrants who fled pogroms and harsh conditions in their homelands for a better life in a land of opportunity.

It seems to us that while the Jewish entitlement to the land of Israel transcends the Holocaust, the Jewish experience during that tragic time is the most solid of foundations for these “national rights.”

Too many self-styled civil rights activists seemed determined to force, by their relentless pressure, an indictment regardless of what an investigation might turn up.

Unfortunately, at present, the rabbinate does not play a positive role in preventing abuse.

More Articles from Steven Plaut
Looters in Ferguson wore masks to avoid being identified -- but the kafiyehs worn by some provided a clue to possible identities.

Those celebrating violence with “No Justice No Peace” signs are opposed to both justice and peace.

In this photo are seen the four main papers in Israel

The bill is the initiative of Knesset Member Eitan Cabel from what is left of the Israeli Labor Party.

The ostensible basis for the banning of Israel Hayom is that it is distributed for free.

Israel’s weenie gov’t refuses to pass law requiring instant execution of ALL terrorists at the scene

Conspiracism is a form of paranoid delusion taking over the entire lives&personalities of believers

The Israeli left, led by tenured academics, endorses pretty much anything harmful to its own country

Though secular, Hitman’s CV includes writing music for, recording, and popularizing religious songs.

Emigration from Israel is at an all-time low, far lower than immigration to Israel from Europe.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/the-amazing-saga-of-two-gun-cohen/2012/08/30/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: