The Secret Holocaust Diaries

The Untold Story of Nonna Bannister
Narrated by: Rebecca Gallagher
Length: 7 hrs and 35 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (214 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

For half a century, a terrible secret lay hidden, locked in a trunk in an attic... photos, official documents, and scraps of a diary written by a young girl. "The time has come when I must share my life story... some facts from the past that could make a contribution, however small it may be, to the history of mankind."

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

What listeners say about The Secret Holocaust Diaries

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Incredible story, beautiful narration

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.

6 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

I respect Nonna

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.

9 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Sad , true story

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

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.

What other book might you compare The Secret Holocaust Diaries to and why?

It is comparable to Anne Frank, but of two nationalities one more persecuted that the other. Both from the childs point of view.

Which character – as performed by Rebecca Gallagher – was your favorite?

Nona the child

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I was saddened that intelligent people can treat one another in such a dispicable manner for perceived or real slights.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Excellent book

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.

4 people found this helpful

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Unforgettable

Everyone should read this book, especially considering the times we live in. Those who are ignorant of history are doomed to repeat it.

1 person found this helpful

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Interesting story

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.

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Rare perspective of a Ukrainian/Russia Christian

It's actually quite difficult to find survival stories from Ukrainians because the Einsatzgruppen decimated the Jewish population & the Ukrainian people tended to be pro-Nazi due to the repression by the Soviet policies. 60,000 Ukrainians joined the Trawnikis - the Ukrainian division of the SS.

This is a rare find - a Christian child in Ukraine that was exposed to absolute horrors & became slave labor in Nazi Germany.

BUT I WAS THOROUGHLY ANNOYED BY THE CONSTANT "EDITOR'S NOTES". 90% of them were completely unnecessary!

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historically inaccurate and poorly written.

Where do I begin? very disappointed... not only is this book so poorly written, making it painful to listen to, It is also historically flawed. (memories of seeing pictures of Jesus on her grandmother's wall in Stalins Russia... ) just one small example of dozens which compiles to a complete farce of history. Holocaust deniers undoubtedly point to this book as an attempt to disprove the Holocaust.

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Story line

I really enjoyed reading this book and especially hearing the person behind the book. This made me tear up knowing she couldn’t find her momma and to see what she had to endure.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Life story of a Russian girl who lived through WW2

It's a good compilation of experiences of a girl who lived through the war first in the Soviet Union and then in German occupied Europe. A little too religious for my liking.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Helen
  • 06-28-12

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.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 02-27-20

Repetitive

A loooong preamble, constant intrusive editorial comments and too much detail of family names and inconsequential events. For the authors descendants this detail would be wonderful - oh that my grandmother had written her story in such detail for us - but slows the narrative down to anecdotes about a past time. I’ve given up at chapter 12. Too little related to the title.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-30-19

Remarkable survivor. So forgiving.

Nonna, you were a real survivor with so many lessons from your own parents and grandmother that you carried forward to your own life. Turning your horrors “off” for 30+ years before sharing with your loving husband and eventually your family. We are so lucky you shared your early life in your own time and your own pace and peace. May it it hopefully avoid future horrors amongst mankind.

1 person found this helpful