Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Secret Holocaust Diaries

Author: Nonna Bannister
Publisher: Tyndale House, 2009
Pages: 299
ISBN: 978-1-4143-2546-0
Source: Giveaway

Nonna Bannister grew up in a Christian home in Russia during the time of Stalin and Hitler. This story was originally written on scraps of paper in five different languages and hidden in a small pillow she kept tied around her waist while she was in the labor camp. She didn't share this story with anyone, not even after she came to the United States and got married. She slowly translated her diaries into English. A few years before her death she took her husband by the hand and led him up the stairs into the attic. There she unlocked the trunks she had hidden her most precious secrets in and handed her husband her translated diaries. Her only request was that he not do anything with them until she was gone. He kept that promise.
The secret holocaust diaries tells of her life in Russia. It reminded me of Anne Frank's diaries and of Corrie ten Booms book "The Hiding Place". All three of these women chose to look at the bright side and not hold grudges or hate those who had imprisoned them. Nonna tells delightful stories of her family and her grandmother. She also writes of the terrible things she witnessed. There were parts of the story where I cried and yet she showed her innocence at times and I just laughed. Her is an example of an event that made me crack up. In this excerpt we find Nonna along with her mother and all of her aunts, uncles, and cousins visiting their grandmother. She wakes up in the morning and sees her youngest cousin wandering around. To make sure he doesn't get hurt or into trouble she follows him around the house. She discovers that every room has a religious icon. She and her cousin, Aljoscha wander into the pantry where they discover a pitcher of heavy breakfast cream and a jar of raspberry preserves, her favorite. Her cousin starts yelling for some so she quickly dips her finger in the preserves and the cream and places it in his mouth. She then takes a taste for herself. Here is the excerpt that followed from page 66.
"Just as we were enjoying 'our breakfast,' I looked up, and there in the corner--yes, in the pantry--was an icon. He was looking straight at me, as though He was saying, 'I saw that!' I knew that I had committed one of the 'worst' sins--which was to get into something without someones permission. I had to think quickly. There, near the bottom of the shelf, was a stool. Dipping my finger back into the preserves and into the cream, I stood on the stool; and, barely reaching the icon, I smeared Jesus' lips with it. Now that He had some, surely He would 'forgive me'."
The only problems I had with this book were the editor's comments to clarify things which came in the middle of the page. I felt they should have been placed at the bottom of the book and the lack of pictures. We are told throughout the book that there were pictures she brought back with her. There are two shown on the back of the book and that is it. Since this was an ARC maybe they put some in the finished book. No matter, I would recommend this book to anyone interested in this period in history.

1 comment:

  1. Sandra, I felt the same why that you did about the editor's comments. They should have been footnotes but not inserted in the middle of the page. I also would have liked to see the pictures that she was able to save.