Mrs. Zinger's recipe for "mocha cake," transcribed by Ilona Kellner on the back of a blank munitions factory form

Mrs. Zinger's recipe for mocha cake

Ilona Kellner and her family lived in Pelsöc, which became part of Hungary before World War II. Following the German occupation of Hungary, Ilona, her sister Vera, and her parents Karoly and Jolan were forced into a ghetto in another area of the town. In mid-June, the family was deported to the Auschwitz camp in German-occupied Poland. Ilona's parents were killed in the gas chambers at Birkenau.

In early August, Ilona and her sister were deported to Hessisch Lichtenau, a subcamp of the Buchenwald concentration camp. They were part of a transport of 1,000 Hungarian women taken to Germany to fill a labor shortage. At the labor camp, Ilona worked as a translator and messenger and tidied the factory there. She smuggled blank pages out of wastebaskets and used them to record hundreds of recipes dictated by her fellow women prisoners.

This page shows Mrs. Zinger's recipe for mocha cake, as transcribed by Ilona Kellner on the back of a blank munitions factory form.

Critical Thinking Questions

What might have motivated people in camps and ghettos to collect and preserve recipes and create cookbooks under such difficult conditions?

Why are artifacts, photographs, and documents like this one important historical evidence?

What questions does this document raise for you?

What was the context of the Holocaust and World War II when this document was created?


  • US Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, gift of Eva Moreimi, in loving memory of her parents: Ilona Kellner Kalinova and Ernest Kaufmann Kalina
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