Elie Aron Cohen was a Dutch Jewish physician born to a working-class family in Groningen. In 1943, during World War II, he was sent to via the Westerbork detention camp to Auschwitz along with his first wife Aaltje van der Woude , their son, and his parents-in-law. The others were killed on arrival, but he managed to survive through a combination of chance and skill. In 1945, he and other Auschwitz inmates were transported by the Nazis to Mauthausen camp and then to Melk, Austria, where he was liberated by the U.S. military. After the war, he returned to the Netherlands and made a painful re-entry into normal life. He remarried and had two children, and became a general practitioner in Arnhem. He wrote a number of books about the Holocaust. The first to be published and still the most famous was the dissertation for his Ph.D. degree, which he earned in 1952 at the University of Utrecht, Het Duitse Concentratiekamp;
een Medishe en Psychologische Studie (The German Concentration Camp -- A Medical-Psychological Study, also known as Human Behavior in the Concentration Camp). It was one of the first scientific descriptions of the activities of extermination camps such as Auschwitz and Sobibor, and offered a psychological analysis of the Nazis who manned them. At that time, there was little interest in the Netherlands in recounting the events of the war, but the book did well and was later translated into English, Swedish and Japanese.
However, it was banned in Ireland in 1954. In 1961, he covered the Eichmann trial for Het Parool, the Amsterdam-based daily newspaper. Dr. Cohen went on to obtain recognition in the Netherlands of "post-concentration camp syndrome," from which he and many other survivors suffered in their later years. In 1992, he published last book, Beelden uit de nacht: Kampherinneringen (Images of the Night: Camp Memories).