“The Secret Holocaust Diaries: The Untold Story of Nonna Bannister”

Secret holocaust diaries

I just finished “The Secret Holocaust Diaries: The Untold Story of Nonna Bannister” by Nonna Bannister, Carolyn Tomlin, and Denise George. Nonna Bannister was a young Russian teenager when the Nazis took over her town. This is the story of Nonna Bannister and her life and experiences growing up in Russia and eventually her life in Germany during WWII in a labor camp and then a hospital.

The book was written based on diaries that Nonna kept throughout her life and her memories. It does seems to focus more on Nonna’s childhood and less on what happened from the time she was sent from Russia to Germany until she reached the United States alone. It does have some graphic violence noted because of Nonna’s first-hand account of what she witnessed so the reader should be prepared.

The most irritating part of this book isn’t from the author’s side but seems to be from the editor’s side. At random and much too frequent intervals, after the reader has completed a section or paragraph, the editor inserts a note basically summarizing what was just read. What’s worse, these inserts are almost as if the editor thinks the audience reads at a 4th grade level and very rarely provides any information the reader hasn’t already learned.

The other problem was that this book jumps around quite a bit. It starts off on the train from Russia to Germany, goes back to her very early childhood and early teen years, then back to Germany. It the midst of this, chapters covering random memories are thrown in as well as her own poetry. This makes it hard for the reader to become engrossed and invested in the people in the book.

I think this could have been a great book if Nonna and her family had found a better editor. I’m giving this book 2 stars (I’m working on more consistent method of rating so that will be forthcoming). Has anyone read this? What were your thoughts? What books from the survivor’s viewpoint would you recommend?

I’m stilling battling (pun totally intended) with John Keegan’s “History of Warfare” and I’m about another week away from just quitting it all together. That doesn’t mean that I don’t like his work (I haven’t read any of his other books) but the way he wrote this book makes me want to cry and I think it might actually be giving me headaches!

I am starting “The Soldier’s Story: Vietnam in Their Own Words” by Ron Steinman. This is on loan from my dad and since he recommended it and never talks about his Vietnam experience, I’m anxious to see what I learn. So here’s what’s in the lineup:

The Soldier's StoryThe Crimean WarInto the Rising Sun


At bat: “The Soldier’s Story: Vietnam in Their Own Words” by Ron Steinman

On deck: “The Crimean War: A History” by Orlando Figes (this has been on deck for awhile so unless the best military history book ever released in history is published in the next month, it’s absolutely next!)

In the bullpen: “Into the Rising Sun” by Patrick K. O’Donnell

What books are you reading?


Happy Reading!!


About jenvolk5

Bank auditor by day, trivia and knowledge hound all other times.
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