We are sad to pass on the news that Fritzi Cohen died this morning. Fritzi was the longtime proprietor of the Washington, DC landmark Tabard Inn and for decades worked in the trenches as an antiwar and Pentagon reform activist. Fritzi was also a good and valued friend of the American Committee.
This past October, the Tabard played host to a panel discussion (co-hosted by ACURA and the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft) marking the 60th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis. The discussion, which the journalist Gareth Porter** said was the best he’d attended in almost a half-century of attending such events, kicked off with remarks by the ever-feisty, ever-fearless Fritzi who decried the collapse of diplomatic relations between the US and Russia and the senselessness of American policy toward Russia in recent decades. Some of us who knew her and had seen her over the past year did note she was clearly in a good deal of pain getting around at the event owing to what she said was a back problem (we learned today that she had cancer but told virtually no one), but that did not affect the cogency of her remarks nor the passion with which they were delivered.
She was a force, and she will be missed.
-James Carden, for the Committee
**Gareth Porter, a longtime friend of Cohen’s has sent in his thoughts on Fritzi’s passing:
Fritzi was indeed a force for change in Washington in so many ways. Not only was she the first to mount a Nader-type project to hold the Pentagon accountable for its wanton spending in the 1980s but she was the moving force behind the Washington-Moscow friendship organization that carried out the first only cultural exchange program between the two capital cities. And it was through that program that one of the leading young jazz musicians in Moscow, bassist Victor Dvoskin, first came to Washington, and then he decided to return with his new wife to stay. Frtizi then brought Victor into the Tabard for a regular Sunday night gig, which has become one of the longest-running — if not the longest — regular jazz gig in the United States. She thus created a true cultural treasure of immense value, which still continues to this day. She also made the Tabard a regular meeting place for events that opposed the militarism of the past and present, as others have pointed out.