Recipes Remembered: Chocolate Thinsies
Photo: Liz Rueven

Recipes Remembered: Chocolate Thinsies

This recipe for deeply chocolatey brownie thins jumped off the pages of Recipes Remembered; A Celebration of Survival as I spent a full weekend absorbing the remarkable stories in a book I revisit each year around Holocaust Remembrance Day.

In June Feiss Hersh‘s powerful collection of individual survivors’ stories, food memories come to life in the context of personal memoir. Some, like Sara “Hannah” Rigler, recall receiving these crispy dairy-free brownie wafers in care packages from her Aunt Mary in the United States. This was while Sara tried to recuperate and rebuild a new life after escaping from a “death march” in December 1944.

Holocaust Recipes Remembered
Cover image used with permission; Recipes Remembered by June Feiss Hersh

“I was a filthy, starving bundle of rags and yet I did not want to die and so I was running for my life. I ran and hid in a barn. After a few hours, a man entered the barn; he told me he was a British prisoner of war… He told me the Germans had given up the search for me. He brought me something to eat and then tried to figure out a way to save me. As he left he said, “May G-d watch over you.” Stan showed me there was still some decency in the world.”

Sara’s story of survival is one of luck, ingenuity and fortitude. She was hidden in an English POW camp where a band of ten soldiers protected her in a barn’s hayloft. They fed and clothed her, disguised her as a boy and helped her to travel to Bialystok. There she learned that her mother and sister had perished. Her survival skills relied heavily on her ability to speak German and Russian.

family photo Holocaust Recipes Remembered
Sara’s family, top left: mother, father, Hannah, Sara and Liuba in Shavel, Lithuania, 1937

Hannah came to America in 1947, married and lived a vibrant life involved in politics, health services and Holocaust studies. When Recipes Remembered; A Celebration of Survival was published in 2011, she was still a guest lecturer at The Museum of Jewish Heritage A Living Memorial to the Holocaust in NYC.

In 1972, after searching for her British saviors for 24 years, she reunited with them and their families in a hotel in London. “My ten angels came with their wives to see a woman who was no longer a bag of bones but had a productive and satisfying life. They toasted their little sister who had found a special place in their hearts- and the stoic British cried.”

Her miraculous life story is chronicled in her book, 10 British Prisoners-of-War saved My Life.

Her ten British rescuers were honored at Yad Vashem (Jerusalem) with the designation of “Righteous Among the Nations“.

Her message: “… use the uniquely human trait of memory to connect the generations and to work unceasingly to leave this world a better place than when we entered it.”

For more inspiration and to honor the legacies of family, survival and food memories be sure to read June Feiss Hersh’s Recipes Remembered; A Celebration of Survival.

chocolate brownie thins cookies Kosher Like Me
Hannah Rigler’s Chocolate Thinsies


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