The Secret Holocaust Diaries: The Untold Story of Nonna Bannister

The Secret Holocaust Diaries: The Untold Story of Nonna Bannister


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Nonna Bannister carried a secret almost to her Tennessee grave: the diaries she had kept as a young girl experiencing the horrors of the Holocaust. This book reveals that story. Nonna’s childhood writings, revisited in her late adulthood, tell the remarkable tale of how a Russian girl from a family that had known wealth and privilege, then exposed to German labor camps, learned the value of human life and the importance of forgiveness. This story of loss, of love, and of forgiveness is one you will not forget.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781414325477
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Publication date: 03/18/2010
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 254,217
Product dimensions: 5.64(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.90(d)

Table of Contents

Preface XI

Introduction XV

Prologue XXI

Train to Agony

Chapter 1 Boarding the Train 3

Chapter 2 Baby Sarah 7

Life Before the War

Chapter 3 Family Background 15

Chapter 4 Mama's Family 23

Chapter 5 Educating Anna 27

Chapter 6 Move to Taganrog 31

Chapter 7 Move to Rostov-on-Don 37

Chapter 8 A Day in the Park 41

Chapter 9 The Depression in Russia: Stalin's Power 45

Chapter 10 Winter Vacation with Babushka at the Dacha 49

Chapter 11 Our Journey by Train 53

Chapter 12 Homecoming Welcome 59

Chapter 13 Our Fun Time Begins 65

Chapter 14 Christmas Church Service 71

Chapter 15 Christmas Day: 1932 79

Chapter 16 Reflections on Childhood 87

Chapter 17 Back to Reality: 1933 91

Chapter 18 Troubled Times: 1933-34 97

Chapter 19 Changing Times: 1934-35 101

Chapter 20 Wine-Tasting Time 105

Chapter 21 Times of Uncertainty: 1937 109

Chapter 22 Remembrances 115

Chapter 23 Germany Attacks Russia 121

Chapter 24 Preparations for the Invasion 127

Chapter 25 Our World Begins to Crumble 133

Chapter 26 Papa Is Found in Hiding 137

Chapter 27 My Last Minutes with Papa 145

Chapter 28 Papa's Burial 151

Chapter 29 Life without Papa 155

Chapter 30 Surviving the German Occupation of Konstantinowka 163

The Agony Continues

Chapter 31 August 1942 175

Chapter 32 The End of the Line 183

Chapter 33 Identification Patches 189

Chapter 34 Labor Camp, Our First Assignment: 1942 193

Chapter 35 The Break: Spring 1943 203

Chapter 36 Loss of Mama: September 1943 211

Chapter 37 Survival to the End 223

Chapter 38 Last Message from Mama 233

Chapter 39 Searching for Mama: Merxhausen Hospital 243

New Life

Chapter 40 The Final Arrangements 249

"October 1989: Americans" 254

Afterword Nonna Bannister 255

Appendix A Life with Nonna 257

Appendix B "Is This It? Is This All?" 263

Appendix C Documents 267

Appendix D Genealogy 275

Chronology 277

Glossary of Names and Places 289

About the Author 293

Acknowledgments 297

About the Editors 299

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Secret Holocaust Diaries 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 314 reviews.
shepherdboy More than 1 year ago
I could not put the book down. I was captivated from the beginning to the end. To see the horrors of the Holocaust through the eyes of a child is a life changing experience. I could amost see the events, hear the sounds of war and torture, smell the scents of the horrible events so vividly described by Nonna, and feel the emotions she so dramatically captured in her diaries. Nonna's story is one of tragic losses, horrible pain and unbleivable trials. Yet, it also a story of the courage of an individual's character, of faith in God and the sacrifical love for friends and family. It is also a story about forgiveness and hope.

I am grateful that Nonna Lisowskaja Bannister chose to remove her Holocaust diaries from the confines of their secret hiding place and share them with her husband, family and the world. I don't think I will be same after reading Nonna's story. I beleive all who read The Secret Holocaust Diaries will agree that Nonna's story had a life-changing impact on them.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Honestly, how could you? While it did repeat information quite often, I don't think it retracted from the overall story. I couldn't put it down, wondering what would happen next in her life. It's an amazing story of courage and survival from one of the most horrific events in human history. All I can say is thank you to the family for passing on this personal account.
SusieTX More than 1 year ago
I have just completed this book and if anyone does not believe that God is in the details then they really must take a second look. We must learn from history so that it does not repeat itself and unfortunately in regard to the Holocaust we have not learned. My heart breaks for those poor souls that had to endure such horrors.
Napua More than 1 year ago
A raw first-person narrative about a Russian/Polish girl surviving the tumultuous WWII era in Europe. Nonna is a very natural story-teller who paints vivid tableaus of both joyous family life and horrific war crimes. My 2 major complaints are, 1) the book was overly edited with a horribly restructured timeline, 2) too many redundant/unnecessary explanations in the "editor's notes." This book is in dire need of better editing! I also wish that more was told about her journey to America and how she rebuilt her life after the war. But otherwise it is a truly moving story with sincere emotions that at times can be sickening or beautifully touching. Recommended (especially since it's free).
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Knowing history is very important but this was too depressing. I wish I could take the violence of the subject but it was too much to handle. She's a hero for making it through this hell!
Jen_JenJL More than 1 year ago
I think the family did a wonderful thing by publishing Nonna's diaries and giving her a voice, even when she was unable to in her lifetime. From her writings, it is obvious that she was a kind and intelligent woman who overcame much adversity. I would have liked to have seen the pictures included that they spoke of in the dialogue. The documents were interesting, but the photos would have given face to the "characters." I also would like to know the REAL ending, if that is even a thing that can be known. Who WAS her paternal family and what happened to them? Her brother? I understand that many people disappeared without a trace during those years, but I also wonder how much research was done to find them? This book, however, paints an accurate picture of the horrors inflicted by inhumane people during WWII. It seemed to be Nonna's wish that by telling the story, people would not forget. Rest easy, Nonna. After reading your words, I will not forget.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a book that shares much history of Nonna's family. She obviously came from a rich family but money couln't prevent them from escaping the labor camps. I couldn't put the book down.
LizBiz More than 1 year ago
Liz here. Finished this wonderful, work of art yesterday. Although we can never imagine the horrors of the Holocaust, The Secret Holocaust Diaries illustrates them for us in this heart-tugging novel. Nonna tells us how peaceful and joyful life before the war was...and what happened after. I literally burst into tears in reading class because of how sad this book was. This book should NOT BE FREE. Memories that Nonna had before, after, and during the war are irraplaceable...and one of the many untold stories of the Holocaust survivors.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a pretty good book considering it was compiled by the family and not the author herself. It brings you into a world not expressly talked about when you think of Hitler's Germany in the times of the Holocaust. A life of a Russian young women in these trying times not only for the Jewish people. A look outside concentration camps which hold about the same horrors as within. Fear and discrimination in race for anyone not German. A sad but uplifting story of Nonna as she goes through these trials and eventually becomes free when she moves to America.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Glad to be able to get another first account of that horrible and tragic time. It is hard to imagine people living through such horrid things. It is something all nations need to remember and I pray it will never happen again. This book is a must read to recieve a first hand account from a survivor of WW II.
Fran Deane More than 1 year ago
Hanane ElMoumi More than 1 year ago
It is not your typical holocaust story, Nonna was not Jewish but Russian. Gives you a different perspective,
TRS1 More than 1 year ago
By far one of the better holocaust books I have read (I have read a number of them). It is very descriptive and quite original, coming from the Russian side which isn't heard too often in these tales. I thought about this book for days after I had finished it. If you are interested in this topic, read it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Highly recommended! The story of a young Russian girl and her mother who went to the German labor camps, concentration camps, intermingled with memories of her early childhood. Excellent!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sad & tragic, but a great first person encounter book. Makes you feel like you are there. I couldn't put this book down!!
Gammabug More than 1 year ago
This true story takes us into the horrors of WWII through the voice of a Russian girl, who, with her mother, is sent to a slave camp in Germany. Heartbreaking at times, but with the message that hope is always with us. Worth reading.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the best books I have read in a long time. Hard to put down. A very touching story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Where were all the pictures that were mentioned? That would have given more depth and impact to these memories. Interesting to see how so many suffered at the hands of the Germans and Russians during WWII
TrackGirl321 More than 1 year ago
I am a high school sophomore who had to do a research project. I thought The Secret Holocaust Diaries was  told in a proper manner because Nonna's wishes were to write the truth and nothing but the truth. Nonna wrote about her life, families, dreams, and poetry. I admire Nonna's literature because not only sorrow and enormity were recorded but courage and hope as well. Nonna witnessed a hullaballoo; through Nonna's diary you get a better understanding of what the Jewish people went through and their emotions. It was a struggle to put the book down because it was as intense as television show such as Grey's Anatomy. Nonna's life went from witnessing gruesome events to being happy and supported by her husband and three kids, when she moved to America in 1950. I recommend The Secret Holocaust  Diaries because it depicts that no matter what  struggle we are going  through, things will eventually be swell. The Secret Holocaust Diaries was meant for Nonna's eyes only, although I am glad she decided to share this historical event.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
:) Couldn't help but to keep reading (: Even though its like, the saddest true story ive ever read i coulnt wait to flip over to the next page. How could some withstand such a tragic life?
Brianna Martin More than 1 year ago
it was sad but informing its kinda like anne frank but told by a different young lady
asnow4sure More than 1 year ago
I love books about Holocaust survivors. This true account from a survivor was very moving. At times it seemed to drag, but on the whole it was very good.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have been obsessed with learning about the holocaust ever since we started that chapter in History class in early middle school. I guess I feel very connected with this topic for some reason. I guess that I just have such a hard time wrapping my mind around how someone could do something so terrible to so many people. I borrowed this book from a close friend of mine and I am usually a really slow reader, but with this book I had read over 60 pages in just an hour. I am absolutely in love with this story. It tears at your heart strings in some parts, makes you laugh and makes you cry. If you like true stories then you will like this book. Usually diary books I am not a fan of because they are usually right out of the diary word for word just short passages of what they wrote, but that is not the case in this book. Nonna's diary passages have been made into a chronological story and this is a great read!! 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a captivating book that I could not put down. Nonna was a strong child who witnessed horrible things  but it did not stop her faith and love for God and her family. I am thankful to Nonna that she chose to tell her story and her family who  supported her decision. I only wish Nonna was alive to see how her diaries has impacted everyone who has read her account of the  horrific injustice many suffered.    
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Moving story