Ida and Louise might best be described as “frumpy” – English spinsters, dressed in homemade clothes. They were nervous types, a little flustered, a little foolish, the kind of women that were easily dismissed… or so it appeared. In reality, however, Ida and Louise were something quite different. You see these two clever women had developed their own secret scheme for aiding Jewish refugees.
It happened this way: Both sisters loved opera, and before the war they had developed a network of friends in the European opera community. Not surprisingly the community wanted to help their Jewish friends in danger from the Nazis. Louise was a secretary in London, but Ida was a writer of popular serial romances whose vocation provided a little extra traveling money. And so Friday evenings would find the sisters, without so much as a ring on their fingers, traveling to Germany or Austria, and Sundays would find them gaudily decked out in earrings, necklaces, brooches and pins as they returned. Of course, they traveled back by a different route so that no one would recognize them as the plain ladies of two nights past.
Why the jewelry, you ask? Well, family jewels were often the only hope of escaping Jews trying to satisfy financial requirements for immigration to England. So Ida and Louise wore expensive jewels right out of Germany in plain sight of Nazi guards who assumed that these dowdy women must be wearing cheap, dime-store fakes! The sisters then arranged transport to get people out of danger and safely housed in England where their jewels and a new life awaited. All by themselves, these frumpy spinsters, a rescue committee of two, saved the lives of 29 people! Well done, ladies!
Ida and Louise Cook were recognized as Righteous Among the Nations in 1964.