Thursday, May 20, 2010
In Memory's Kitchen: A Legacy from the Women of Terezin, edited by Cara de Silva, first published in 1996
It is a challenge to call this slim volume of recipes written down by women who were prisoners in the Terezin concentration camp in Germany a memoir. It is certainly not a memoir in a conventional sense, but the word "memoir" seems to work in that the recipes speak volumes about the past: the tradition which these recipes represent and the conditions under which they were written down and bound into a manuscript. But they also speak volumes about the present: the recording of these recipes in the concentration camp and their preservation signals a resistance against obliteration and a determination to be acknowledged by future readers.
This collection was put together by Mina Pachter, a prisoner in Terezin, who, before she was killed, put the manuscript into the hands of another inmate who survived and who eventually got it to Mina Pachter’s daughter Annie who had by then moved from Israel to the United States. The recipes themselves are in the original German, each followed by an English translation. They are often not complete; sometimes ingredients and/or steps have been left out, but the essence is there on the page and conjures up a pre-World War II central Europe that was destroyed. As it says in the subtitle of this book: this is their legacy, the collective shorthand that conveys to us the life and culture that was stolen from them.
The memoir also contains:
A foreward by Michael Berenbaum, Director, U.S. Holocaust Research Institute, Washington, D.C. that discusses the Terezin camp
Pen and ink drawings of food by concentration camp inmates
Reproductions of some of the hand-written recipe pages
A glossary describing recipe terminology
Some poems written by Whilhelmina (Mina) Pachter written in Terezin in German and English with explanatory notes
Several letters in German and Czech by Mina Pachter written in Terezin translated into English with some explanatory notes
A biographical essay about Wilhelmina Pachter by her grandson David Stern
To read a very interesting interview about the background of this book that was conducted by Elizabeth Farnsworth on PBS with the book's editor, Cara de Silva, click here.
Wolf (Ze’ev) Stein – Mina Pachter’s great grandfather
Heinrich Stein – father of Mina Pachter
Mina Pachter – married Adolf Pachter, widower
Heinz (Hanoch) – their son
Anna Willma – their daughter;
George Stern - Anna Willma's husband
Peter – their son; took the first name David
Adele Hirsch – Adolf Pachter’s first wife
Leisel (Elizabeth) their granddaughter
Ernest Reich - Leisel's husband
Terezin Concentration Camp