Saturday, June 29, 2013

Books read in 2013: No. 32 -- The Secret Holocaust Diaries

by Nonna Bannister with Denise George and Carolyn Tomlin

Started: June 25
Finished: June 29

Notes: The title of this true-life book caught my attention. It raises up images of Anne Frank and other books about those who struggled through the Holocaust. The author, Nonna Bannister, was a Russian survivor of the Holocaust who never told her stories until she opened up about them to her American husband in the 1980s. Nonna had apparently kept diaries during the Second World War, and had continued to keep diaries even afterwards, and in the 1990s she put together her writings concerning the Holocaust. Knowing multiple languages, she even did her own translations. However, she made her husband promise that none of her writings would be made public until after her death. Sure enough, she passed away and her writings on the Holocaust were published. Also of interest, Nonna survived not only Nazi Germany, but apparently her family was somewhat well to do and she survived Lenin's Russia.

Mini review: In some ways, this might seem to be a tragic story. This woman lost everything, including her family members one by one. But she persevered. She pushed on. To her knowledge, she was the last surviving member of her family, which had been quite a large family. She eventually came to America, married and started a new family. It could be heart breaking, but she did not let the pains of her life and the atrocities she witnessed keep her from loving. She must have been some lady. As for the book itself, I was intrigued by the first half or so which focused upon her earlier days in Russia only a generation or so after Tolstoy's death, and I've had some interests in Tolstoy. The second half of the book focuses upon her ordeals during WWII and the Holocaust, and there were several instances in which she survived but by all rights probably should not have. A miracle? Maybe. She likely would have seen it that way, at least to some extent. An interesting read. Glad I discovered it.


Charles Gramlich said...

Thanks for pointing this one out. Definitely looks like something that needs a wider audience.

Ty Johnston said...

Yes, Charles, a wider audience. I could easily see this being made into a TV movie or something similar.