Frida Hahn

Rankin, Robert L rankin at
Tue Apr 29 14:53:23 UTC 2008

I've heard this story also, and it's interesting that Oklahoma tribes have analogous stories.  I heard it as an explanation why the Code Talkers were only used in the Pacific Theater during the war -- the military was afraid the Germans already knew too much.  
It would be surprising if Jewish scholars participated in this intelligence gathering, but you just never know. . . .  Frida Hahn could have been her legend name.  These stories ought to be collected and the truth run down.  
If this is true, there should also be declassified Abwehr records of it somewhere in the Bundesrepublik today.  They would name names and might even be an interesting source of linguistic data from that period!
I guess the definitive history of the Code Talkers is still yet to be written.


From: owner-siouan at on behalf of Tom Leonard
Sent: Tue 4/29/2008 9:36 AM
To: siouan at
Subject: Re: Frida Hahn


My mom said Frida was Jewish from Germany.

There was also rumor (unsubstantiated) that many German linguists were sent to Native American communities in the early 1930s (as Hitler was coming to power). Their work was well funded and given high priority. Hitler was aware of the U.S. using Shawnee and Choctaw speakers in W.W.-I and was trying to document other Native Languages. Most of the German scholars were unaware of the manipulation at play and nearly all were recalled back to their universities before 1939.

I have heard this story from several different people over the years, including - oddly enough - two Comanche Code Talkers from W.W.-II. But, I have never seen empirical evidence to substantiate the tales. Nearly every tribe in Oklahoma, however, has stories of German linguists "visiting" amongst their tribe in the early 1930s.

Could be a myth...could be true. It would be interesting to find additional info on this chapter.


Rory M Larson wrote: 

	I'm confused.  What "holocaust" are we talking about here?  Were the Hahns Jewish or non-Jewish Germans?  If they were Germans from Russia who had come to America before Frida was even born, what authority would Third Reich Germany have had to call Frida "back" to Germany?  Why only her, and not the rest of her family?  If she was Jewish, why would they want to at a time they were trying to expel the Jews?  If she was non-Jewish, she might have moved there voluntarily, and perhaps died there in the following decade.  There were probably about three million or so German civilians that died during or after the war from Allied bombing or in the massive population expulsion of Germans from the eastern parts of their country by the Russians, Poles and Czechs.  Would on-line "holocaust" lists include these people? 
"Rankin, Robert L" <rankin at> <mailto:rankin at>  
Sent by: owner-siouan at 

04/28/2008 11:25 PM 
Please respond to
siouan at

<siouan at> <mailto:siouan at>  	

RE: Frida Hahn	


	Thanks for adding that information.  We were afraid something like that had happened.  The Hahns of Lincoln were Germans from Russia (like many of the Germans of western KS and other midwestern states), so she would have known the language since both parents and an older sister had been born abroad and her father was not yet a citizen.  I guess it might pay to check in Lincoln in any event.
	The holocaust lists that are on-line give at least three Frida Hahns and a number of others with spelling variants.  The late '30s would have been a particularly bad time to go back to Germany.  
	Thanks again for the info.
	From: owner-siouan at on behalf of Tom Leonard
	Sent: Mon 4/28/2008 5:15 PM
	To: siouan at
	Subject: Re: Frida Hahn
	Thought I'd add a bit regarding Freida Hahn.
	My Ponca mother, Josetta Rush was friends with Freida. She had many stories about her. To my best understanding, as mom told it, Freida was German. She actually told a story about how they (Poncas) were all amazed that Freida could "i'e with those German ukhi'te at Miller's 101 Ranch" (German WWI POWs that never went back).
	Some time in the late 30s Freida was called back to Germany and she went. Mom said that all the Ponca boys that went to Europe in WWII tried to find her, but to no avail. Mom and her sisters tried to locate her through the Red Cross, but they never found her. The fear has always been that she had been killed in the holocaust.
	Rankin, Robert L wrote: 
	                I did a little more checking on Frida Hahn, the student of Franz Boas who wrote the Ponca grammar found in the Gordon Marsh Collection of the APS.  There was a Frida Hahn listed in the 1920 US Census from Lincoln, Nebraska, daughter of one William Hahn who had emigrated from Russia.  At the time our Frida was exchanging correspondence with Franz Boas she would have been 23-27 years old -- just about right for a graduate student.  And she might have been naturally attracted to study Ponca since she was from Nebraska.  According to the Census figures, below, she apparently had a brother and possibly three sisters.  
	                Those of you living in the Lincoln area might want to make some phone calls to the Hahns in the Lincoln phone directory and see if any of the names below rings a bell.  There may be some children or grandchildren still around, and we could clear up the question "What ever happened to Frida Hahn?" once and for all.  They might appreciate the information we have about her too.
	                Her father and mother were both born in Russia
	                NAME                     STATUS   AGE     FATHER       BIRTHPLACE
	                Hahn, Emma               Married  43  F   William (H9)   Russia 
	                Hahn, Emma                Single  11  F   William (H9)  Nebraska
	                Hahn, Frida               Single  13  F   William (H9)  Nebraska
	                Hahn, George              Single  22  M   William (H9)  Nebraska
	                Hahn, Hazel               Single  9m  F   William (H9)  Nebraska
	                I also checked the listings of names of persons who died in the holocaust.  There were at least three Frida Hahns from various places in Silesia and Hungary, but they were all born in the 1880s.  Let us hope she was not one of them.

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