Ernst Cahn, a German-Jewish refugee,son of Salomon Cahn and Rosa Katzenstein. He married in 1914 and had two children who survived the war.
He lived with his family from 1924-1928 in Amsterdam. In 1936 he returned to the Netherlands, to Huizen, from Germany because of the persecution of the Jews.
Ernst Cahn co-owned ice-cream parlour Koco in the Van Woustraat in Amsterdam with business partner Alfred Kohn.They were well liked by both Jews and gentiles of Amsterdam. After the Germans occupied the city, several customers purchased weapons for the owners and installed a 20-inch ammonia flask to the parlor wall to ward off unwanted visitors. When a German police patrol was sprayed with ammonia, a riot ensued. The event became known as the Koco affair.
On Wednesday, 19 February 1941, a patrol of the Nazi Ordnungspolizei carried out a raid on the ice-cream parlour. Inside, a bunch of heavies were waiting for them, as they had expected an attack by pro-Nazi Dutchmen. Ammonia was squirted from the ice-cream parlour. Ernst Cahn and Alfred Kohn were arrested and condemned by a Nazi court after they endured serious physical abuse in Amsterdam and in the penal barrack in Scheveningen’s prison.
Despite being tortured ,Ernst Cahn did not divulge the name of the technician who had designed and installed the ammonia flask. Ernst Cahn was condemned to death. He was executed on 3 March 1941. Ernst Cahn was the first person in the Netherlands to die in front of a firing squad.Alfred Kohn died in Auschwitz in April 1945.
The “Koco Affair” in Amsterdam instigated the Nazis’ first roundup of Dutch Jews. German troops entered the Jonas Daniel Meyer Square in the Jewish Quarter of Amsterdam on February 22, 1941.
They arrested and physically abused approximately 400 Jews, most of whom were then deported to the Buchenwald concentration camp.