Ellen van der Spiegel Cohen was a baby of four months when her parents put her into hiding. Through an intermediary Ellen found a home with the family of teacher Van der Spiegel. Both her parents were killed in Sobibor. Nobody from her father's side - out of a large family of over eighty - survived the war; two aunts from her mother's side did, but most sisters and brothers of her mother were killed in Sobibor too, as well as a niece and a nephew. All four of her grandparents perished in Auschwitz. Ellen has always kept the clothes in which her mother dressed her before handing her over.
Ellen was raised as a Christian and for a long time thought she was the only Jewish orphan in the world. At a later age she got more and more interested in her Jewish background and got into closer touch with her relatives, also in Israel. Her family name combines the name of her foster parents and the name of her father. Ellen van der Spiegel Cohen worked, among other things, as a psychologist.