Saturday, June 1, 2013
The Secret Holocaust Diaries
How this story came to be written is a big part of the drama. The only World War II survivor of her wealthy Russian, devout Christian family, Nonna Lisowskaya Bannister (1927–2004)came to the U.S. in 1950, married Henry Bannister, and never spoke about her Holocaust experience––until a few years before her death in 2004, when she revealed her diaries, originally written in six languages on paper scraps that she had kept in a pillow strapped to her body throughout the war. Now those diaries, in her English translation, tell her story of fleeing Stalinist Russia, not knowing what was waiting in Hitler’s Germany, where she saw her mother murdered in the camps, escaped a massacre of Jews shot into a pit, was nursed by Catholic nuns, and much more. The editors’ commentary in different type constantly interrupts the memoir, but the notes are helpful in explaining history and context.
Nonna's story is a valuable contribution as a primary source and witness to the Holocaust.
Don't pass up reading this book because it addresses an uncomfortable topic. If this teenage girl could live through this and write it as it happened, then we, in our comfort sixty years later, can definitely read it and be witness to her life and the truth. Despite the struggle, this is a tale not only of survival, faith, and courage, but also forgiveness, strength, and hope.