Unique collection of recipes and testimonies from Auschwitz Surviviors
The New York-based Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial Foundation (ABMF) released a unique collection of recipes and testimonies entitled “Honey Cake and Latkes: Recipes from the Old World by the Auschwitz-Birkenau Survivors.”
More than a cookbook, this collection of over 110 recipes, memories, biographical notes, and traditions shared by some of the last living Auschwitz-Birkenau survivors from before and after the Holocaust is, in the words of ABMF’s Chairman, Ronald S. Lauder, “a story of hope and triumph of the human spirit.”
The genesis of this book’s creation goes back to January 2020, when the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial Foundation, under Lauder's leadership, brought 120 survivors to the Auschwitz Memorial to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the liberation of the German Nazi concentration and extermination camp.
“A few months later, ABMF decided to keep the survivors’ delegation engaged and connected via bi-monthly Zoom calls. During these calls, survivors shared their favorite recipes to keep their spirits up during a particularly challenging time of a global pandemic,” said Dr. Maria Zalewska, book editor and the Executive Director of the ABMF.
The book includes a preface by Dr. Piotr M. A. Cywinski, director of the Auschwitz Memorial and Museum, in which he summarizes the cultural importance of the cookbook: “In the camp, practically no one ate at a table. The culture was, after all, meant to disappear among the barely living prisoners. And with the disappearance of the prisoners was to disappear cultural memory, and within that, the culture of the table. A person did not survive alone--together with this person survived nostalgia and memory, knowledge and feelings, traditions, and customs… And what is what this book is about – it is not only a collection of culinary recipes. It is a book about survivors’ recipes, dishes, meals… about remembering the table, about the familial nature of food, about gatherings… about the influence of traditions, conventions, and innovations in this cultural space which centers – today, just as before – people around a table.”
Dr. Maria Zalewska believes that “‘Honey Cake and Latkes’ is a cookbook unlike any others: “Before cooking, we suggest you begin with reading the recipes’ headnotes, as they are the heart and soul of this book. They hold all the memories that inspired this volume: from Eugene Ginter’s recollections of the chocolate sandwich that his mother made to nourish and strengthen him after the liberation; the rakott-krumpli recipe shared by Eva Shainblum, who recalls that this Hungarian dish of layered potatoes was the last meal she shared with her family before they were all deported to Auschwitz one day after Shavuot in 1944; Benjamin Lesser’s vivid memories of his grandfather’s orchard and gardens in pre-war Munkatsh where every summer the family gathered to pick the fruit and make compote; family stories of Goldie Finkelstein’s delicious and abundant cooking as a way to process the war trauma of scarcity, hunger, and depletion; to - finally - joyous memories of holiday meals shared by many survivors after the war with the second, third, and – now - the fourth generation. We hope that this book, collected and edited during the 2020 lockdown, will allow the readers to appreciate the traditions that unite us and bring us comfort.”
All the proceeds from the book sales will go towards the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial Foundation: whose mission is to safeguard the memory of Auschwitz through preservation & education.