Monday, April 12, 2010
The Secret Holocaust Diaries by Nonna Bannister (Book Review)
Shared by Kristi Herbrand
Title: The Secret Holocaust Diaries: The Untold Story of Nonna Bannister
Author: Nonna Bannister with Denise George and Carolyn Tomlin
About the book: The Secret Holocaust Diaries is a haunting eyewitness account of Nonna Lisowskaja Bannister, a remarkable Russian-American woman who saw and survived unspeakable evils as a young girl. For half a century she kept her story secret while living a normal American life. She locked all her photos, documents, diaries, and dark memories from World War II in a trunk. Late in life she unlocked the trunk, first for herself, then for her husband, and now for the rest of the world.
Nonna's story is one of suffering, torture, and death -- but also of incredible acts of kindness that show the ultimate triumph of faith and love over despair and evil. The Secret Holocaust Diaries is in part a tragedy, yet it's also an unforgettable true story about forgiveness, courage, and hope. (back cover)
My thoughts: First off, definitely read the introduction of this book to get a better understanding of the author. I think it is just amazing that she kept this all a secret for so long!
The book starts out in 1942 and immediately shows some of the horrors that Nonna lived through - it then jumps back to her childhood with her family. She was very close to her mother, father and brother and she had a very happy childhood before the war. At times I was a little confused because of all the names of people and places (and being unfamiliar with the geography of Russia/Germany). It leads up to the war and what happened with her father and brother.
There are many side notes in the text that help explain what Nonna may have been thinking - or how her text has become "Americanized" due to writing this after he life in America. It is an incredible story of survival, especially as Nonna was very ill and hospitalized at the end of the war. How she found the strength as a young girl to sustain her and help her get to American - as was her families wish can only be attributed to God. That she lived her live without showing anger or bitterness towards the evils of her childhood says a lot about her character.
She kept a journal through much of her young life and the war and was able to keep these journals with her. Upon coming to America, she locked them away. It wasn't until late in life that she unlocked the trunk and began to translate them to English. When that was finished, she told her husband it was time for him to learn about her past and showed him all the things she had from her past. She then presented him with the translated pages of her journals. Nonna died in 2004. More information can be found at http://www.secretholocaustdiaries.com/.
***Special thanks to Vicky Lynch of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. for sending me a review copy.***
The Secret Holocaust Diaries
Publisher/Publication Date: Tyndale, Mar 4, 2010