Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Review written by Alter Wiener, Survivor

I was born in Poland about the same time as Nonna Lisowskaja Bannister was born, in Ukraine/Russia. I come from a very religious, loving, warm, wealthy and close knit family; so was Nonna. Both of us became victims of Hitler's war of conquest, caught up in the horrors of Warld War II. Nonna miraculously survived the Holocaust; so did I. Her life story was written on scraps of paper. Being a captive in slave and concentration camps, I could not record my experiences. I had no access to paper to write neither a pencil nor pen to write with. I am glad that Nonna, a victim of Stalin's communism and Hitler's fascism, had the courage and the ability to write and keep her diaries. Thus, enabling contemporary and future generations to learn what prejudice may lead to. Any student learning the history of WWII, or individual, who remembers or witnessed the events of that tragic war, will benefit from reading this unusual book.

I had been subjugated to the Third Reich's occupation of Poland. As a teenager I saw the Germans looting, expropriating, beating, torturing, shooting, hanging, burning alive, starving innocent people. However, being enslaved in concentration camps for three years, I had no access to a newspaper or radio. Ergo, I could not have been aware of the many phenomenal events that took place, in and outside Poland, Russia or Germany, which the above book transmits. Nonna saw a Jewish woman tossing her baby into Nonna's mother's arms. Later on that Jewish baby was taken away from her mother and Nonna watched a Nazi soldier killing the infant. What a traumatic experience for a young child as Nonna was.

I still have nightmares about the murder of my father when I was thirteen years old. Although I have, after the war, read many books about WWII, I find The Secret Holocaust Diaries, very informative, compelling and obviously authentic. How ironic and painful it is to read in (9/1/2009) NY Times, the seventieth anniversary of WWII outbreak, that Hamas leader, Yunis al-Astal had said "Adding the Holocaust to the curriculum would amount to marketing a lie and spreading it." Nonna Bannister a Christian, impacted by and witnessed atrocities committed by the Nazis during the Holocaust, kept a diary of factual events in her life; it is obviously not fiction. I am grateful to Nonna Lisowskaja Bannister for her efforts to keep her diaries and to the editors, Carolyn Tomlin & Denise George, for the compilation. The atrocities that Nonna had experienced and witnessed had been committed against defenseless civilians from numerous nations. It corroborates that every Jew was a victim but not every victim was a Jew. Racial prejudice is contagious. As a Jew, the Nazis categorized me as subhuman, (untermentch). So were all Slavs, denizens of Poland, Czechoslovakia, Russia and other European countries. Hitler's imposition of a pernicious regime would not have stopped in Europe if the Allies had not won the war.

Alter Wiener, Author "From A Name to A Number"


  1. very cool! i look forward to reading the book...i'll add it to my evergrowing list of resources for holocaust could end up as a post on my blog, Never Again!

  2. hey, me again...i just posted alter wiener's story to my blog today...he survived five different labor/concentration camps during the Holocaust...stop by and leave a comment, thanks!