Alice’s Book: How the Nazis Stole My Grandmother’s Cookbook by Karina Urbach (Translated from German by Jamie Bulloch) - review by Richard Cockett

Richard Cockett

Operation Apfelstrudel

Alice’s Book: How the Nazis Stole My Grandmother’s Cookbook


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The practice of Aryanising books involved German, often Nazi, authors passing off Jewish books as their own, sometimes simply by doing nothing more sophisticated than substituting their own names for the real author’s on the cover. This is exactly what happened to Alice Urbach, author of one of the most famous pre-Second World War cookbooks, So kocht man in Wien! (‘Cooking the Viennese Way!’), originally published in 1935.

The story of how Urbach came to write her culinary bestseller and of how it was swiped by the Nazis is the subject of this engaging, elegant and moving book by her granddaughter Karina Urbach. As well as being a direct descendant of Alice, Karina Urbach is a senior research fellow at the Institute of Historical Research in London. Alice’s Book is thus a compelling fusion of meticulous historical accounting and family memoir. It has already been made into a documentary film in Germany.

Alice Urbach was a scion of an assimilated Jewish family from Vienna. Like many such families, hers followed a relentlessly upward curve. They moved from the quasi-ghetto of Leopoldstadt to a commodious apartment in the prestigious neighbourhood of Döbling when Alice was just eleven. Life seemed set fair, but

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