How Concentration Camp Prisoners Found Comfort in Imaginary Feasts
From Ravensbrück to Mao's Labor Camps, Inmates Recited Family Recipes to Preserve Their Humanity
When the Soviet Union sent Dmitri Likhachev to an offshore detention camp in February 1928, the Russian scholar was crammed onto a train car with other prisoners and handed a large cake. His five-year sentence without the benefit of a trial was a gift of the government. The cake came from the university library where he had worked before his arrest. It held no hacksaw to free him, but he would remember the goodbye present for seven decades.
Likhachev was not the only person who recalled gifts of food during detention. …