Remnants of the Past in an Unassuming Cookbook

Open copy of a Hungarian cookbook surrounded by notes and newspaper clippings that were found in the book. It also features the BRüG postcard which is the subject of our post.
Submitted by Dr. Rebecca Jefferson, Head of the Isser and Rae Price Library of Judaica

The atrocities committed during the Holocaust rightly tend to be the main focus of Holocaust Remembrance Day to ensure that the memory of the murdered victims is never forgotten and that such an appalling episode in human history is never repeated. Yet, there is another side to the Holocaust that merits remembrance, and that is the never-ending impact of its horrors on the survivors and on subsequent generations. One unassuming cookbook in the Price Library of Judaica accidentally reveals this hidden, ongoing Holocaust trauma.

The cookbook (I help Cooking: 1,000 Outstanding Recipes), compiled by Margit Löbl, includes recipes and guidelines written in Hungarian for “interested and progressive,” Hungarian-speaking cooks living in Israel in the 1950s. Löbl’s book aimed to help immigrant housewives vary their culinary repertoire as well as reproduce favorite recipes from their former home. Sandwiched in-between the pages is a simple, typed postcard addressed to a Moshe Zeew Jarkony in Tel Aviv: presumably the owner, or else someone related to the owner of the cookbook. The card, sent from Berlin and postmarked January 1966, acknowledges receipt of an application for reparations, and it cites the Federal Republic of Germany’s Federal Restitution Law (BRüG).

The BRüG (Bundesgesetz zur Regelung der rückerstattungsrechtlichen Geldverbindlichkeiten) was established in 1957 to provide compensation for property taken from Jews by the Third Reich that could no longer be returned. This missing property included millions of immovable items, such as stolen homes and land, and movable items like furniture and other household goods, books, artwork, jewelry, etc., Not only did millions of European Jews suffer devastating economic hardships through the loss of property, they were also robbed of cherished items of sentimental value that bound them to their family and identity. The loss of assets in the immediate post-war era further compounded the trauma of survivors already struggling physically and emotionally to rebuild their lives. The often lengthy and bureaucratic process of gaining restitution, which also carried with it a certain stigma, poured additional salt onto their wounds.

Even an unassuming cookbook can contain reminders of a painful past. The Price Library’s used copy of Löbl’s recipes, with its visual juxtaposition of words that relate to satiation with words that relate to deprivation, reminds the reader of how the Holocaust continued to intrude on the everyday lives of those who made it through.

Open copy of a Hungarian cookbook surrounded by notes and newspaper clippings that were found in the book. It also features the BRüG postcard which is the subject of our post.
Our copy of Főzni Segitek. 1000 kitünő recept contains newspaper clippings, notes, and, unexpectedly, a postcard from the BRüG postmarked January 1966.

Item Information

Löbl, Margit(Hungarian/Israeli, unknown)
Főzni Segitek. 1000 kitünő recept
I Help Cooking. 1000 Outstanding Recipes
First and second editions bound together, with newspaper clippings
Tel Aviv (1953) 1957 TX724 .L63 1953
Isser and Rae Price Library of Judaica

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