web analytics
December 22, 2014 / 30 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
8000 meals Celebrate Eight Days of Chanukah – With 8,000 Free Meals Daily to Israel’s Poor

Join Meir Panim’s campaign to “light up” Chanukah for families in need.



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
Haredi men cast their votes for the 19th Knesset in Bnei Brak, January 22 2013.
New Poll: Shows Netanyahu Will Lead Next Gov’t with Haredim
Latest Indepth Stories
512px-Jerusalem_Hannukah_021210

Let us become modern day Maccabees and seize the day. Embrace the challenge. Fight for Hashem.

Motta Gur overlooks the Old City with his troops during the Six Day War

Har HaBayit is still Biyadein; Through our actions, its fate is in our hands


What does the way we count the days of Chanukah come to teach us about living in the present?

Knesset and Menorah

Israel projects global material illumination not always the light of “morality” meant by the Navi

“Mr. Prime Minister, declare a unilateral ceasefire! Remember, Blessed is the peacemaker!”

“D-e-t-e-r-m-i-n-a-t-i-o-n!”

Hamas is continuing to prepare its next war against Israel instead of improving conditions in Gaza

If the UN Grants national recognition to Palestine, why stop there? Tibet, Chechnya, Basque…

The decision to not publicly light the Menorah in Sydney, epitomizes the eternal dilemma of Judaism and Jews in the Diaspora.

Am Yisrael is one family, filled with excruciating pain&sorrow for losing the 4 kedoshim of Har Nof

What is its message of the dreidel?” The complexity and hidden nature of history and miracles.

Police play down Arab terrorism as mere “violence” until the truth can no longer be hidden.

The 7 branches of the menorah represent the 7 pillars of secular wisdom, knowledge, and science.

Obama obtained NO verifiable commitments from Cuba it would desist from acts prejudicial to the US

No one would deny that the program subjected detainees to less than pleasant treatment, but the salient point is, for what purpose?

For the past six years President Obama has consistently deplored all Palestinian efforts to end-run negotiations in search of a UN-imposed agreement on Israel.

More Articles from Steven Plaut
President Shimon Peres receives the Congrssional Gold Medal.

“Mr. Prime Minister, declare a unilateral ceasefire! Remember, Blessed is the peacemaker!”

Bibi Fired Livni and Lapid Because

Israelis now know Arab terrorism isn’t caused by Israeli occupation but by ending Israeli occupation

The Mid-East conflict is a unidirectional campaign of Arabs murdering Jews, not the inverse.

Judah concedes he was wrong&feels regret; THAT is precisely what qualifies his house for leadership

What is the appropriate Israeli response when European countries recognize the “State of Palestine”?

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

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.

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: