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  • Jolene Roehlkepartain

When You Don’t Know What to Do

What do you do…when you’re uncertain about what to do next?

During World War II, Elena “Ica” Kalina searched for scraps of paper used to label bombs and grenade launchers. As she and the other women huddled to choke down small rations of bread, Ica asked them about their favorite foods. They shared recipes during the 90-minute nightly walk between the factory and the barracks.

The women worked in the munitions factory because of a labor shortage near the end of the war. They had been transferred from a concentration camp.

Even though they were starving and forced to do manual labor, the women needed to keep their energy up. Those who didn’t (more than 200 of them) were sent to Auschwitz. Many of the laborers became sick from their exposure to toxic chemicals in the plant.

Ica hid all the collected recipes in a pouch she had created from tearing her coat seams. She tied the pouch to the inside of her coat. At one point, she ran into a burning building to save the recipes during an Allied bombing.

Ica’s daughter, Eva Moreimi, published the recipes and her parent’s story in Hidden Recipes: A Holocaust Memoir. She donated the handwritten recipes to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC. To learn more, visit:

What do you do…when you don’t know what to do?

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