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.
©2009 Nonna Bannister; (P)2009 Oasis
Yes. The book has a realism that is riveting. It is unfortunate the author kept it secret for so long. There is so much to be learned by her story and I am sure it's length would have filled volumes. Since I listed to the audio version, I wonder if a sample of the journals the author kept are included in the book.
It is comparable to Anne Frank, but of two nationalities one more persecuted that the other. Both from the childs point of view.
Nona the child
I was saddened that intelligent people can treat one another in such a dispicable manner for perceived or real slights.
As avid reader of WWII and Halocaust books, I respect the author's experience. That being said, I didn't enjoy this as an audiobook because the entire narrative is heavily pepper with "Editor's notes." I thought many of them were unnecessary to my understanding, and were very intrusive.
The book itself is fascinating and gives an unusual account of the horrors of World War II by also including the terror of the Stalin regime and not only the Holocaust. The audiobook was enjoyable and the narrator was great though I would have preferred a young girl's voice. Additionally it was a petty that the reading was not checked for proper pronunciation. It was clear that the narrator had the potential to pronounce correctly but especially when she constantly said Schweister instead of Schwester when referring to the nuns it was annoying. I would though like to listen to more books from this narrator.
I thought this was an interesting story, but it was confusing where it started and then went back to earlier childhood days. I had to look up the story on the internet to better understand it. I really wish the book had explained a little more on how and where she met her husband. I think it would have been better for the story to start with her husband asking about her past and then going back to explain her childhood. When you listen to the book, you don't know until the very end that she didn't tell her husband about her past for 40 years- which is an important detail of the story. I am glad that she finally did tell her story, because we should all try to prevent such horrible things from happening again. We shouldn't pretend that they didn't happen and wouldn't happen again. Evil can sneak up on you and trap you. We should remember that communists and Nazis are all basically autocratic socialists that cause the same kind of suffering and that we should appreciate the Judeo-Christian (non-socialist) governments that gave the Holocaust victims freedom. We should remember the lessons of history and avoid fascism, socialism, and communism. God bless the nuns who saved Nonna! I listened to The Nazi Officer's Wife right before this story- they go together well.
Highly recommended, and I really appreciated hearing Nona's true voice at the end of the book.
My only critique is that I found the narrator's slight midwestern accent distracting and unauthentic to Nona's story.
I am a Christian wife and mother. I write two blogs. My somewhat theological blog is called "Just Another Clay Pot," and my Fiction/Poetry blog is called "Weightiness and Whimsy."
The first thing that grabbed me was the narrator's voice. So very pleasant that I just wanted to pull up a chair and listen. But she wasn't limited to "sweetness and light." When tragic things had to be communicated, she did so with real feeling. I would happily listen to her again.
True, she stumbled over a few of the foreign words and names, but I couldn't bring myself to take a star away from such an excellent performance.
As for the story: It is absolutely vital that it be told and retold. And don't fear that it will be a depressing book even though much of it is hard. Much of the story highlights the beauty of good and loving hearts which refused to give in to hate. This is an excellent narrative which should be widely heard.
The narrator was good, but the book was boring to listen to
The main one.
The narrator is fine but the story itself was boring.
I really wanted to like this book, but I couldn't even finish it because the narrator kept referring to the notes too often. The notes should have been saved for the end of the book. Having the notes read every two minutes was extremely distracting from the continuity of the main story. I love audio books, but I feel as if this audio book was a collosal waste of my time and money.
Overall I enjoyed the book. it is interesting to hear people's accounts of historical events, but I found the editors notes to be somewhat distracting and not usually necessary.
"Seen Through The Eyes of a Child"
This one was difficult to listen to because of all the editors notes in between various sections throughout the book. I found it almost impossible to keep up with at first but once I got used to the style in which the book was put together and reminded myself that the entire text was put together from various bits of paper with scribbles on in five different languages compiled over several years mainly during Nona's childhood, it all came together and I was able to get through it. So glad I did as I learnt a great deal from this one.
Some parts of the book are quite graphic depicting first hand eye witness accounts of atrocities seen through the eyes of a child, a young Nona fighting to stay alive herself. So keep that in mind when listening through speakers if there are any young children within earshot.
Strength and courage, the will to survive, its all there in this one which leaves little to the imagination.
Three out of five stars because there are some very long winded descriptions of past pre-war family times together and the editors notes scattered throughout. Aside from those two issues, the book is well worth the listen, it gives a good insight into what it was like to be living in Russia during the invasion, the deportations of Jews and how Nona survived and went on to live the life she had in the end.
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