The Secret Holocaust Diaries: The Untold Story of Nonna Bannister

The Secret Holocaust Diaries: The Untold Story of Nonna Bannister by Nonna Bannister, Denise George, Carolyn Tomlin

Book: The Secret Holocaust Diaries: The Untold Story of Nonna Bannister by Nonna Bannister, Denise George, Carolyn Tomlin Read Free Book Online
Authors: Nonna Bannister, Denise George, Carolyn Tomlin
Tags: Biographies
Solzhenitsyna persuaded us to stay because it was obvious that the beautiful day had taken a turn and a big storm was on the way. Mama was quite concerned about Papa and Anatoly worrying about us, but there was no way to let them know that we were safe. It turned awfully dark outside, and the priest at the church opened the big doors to let some people on the streets come inside the church.
    There was no doubt that a cyclone was on the way, and we all went down into the cellar with pillows and some blankets. We spent that night (or at least half of the night) playing cards and games and singing and reading—any way that we could entertain ourselves until the storm passed over. We decided that we would have to spend the night at Mrs. Solzhenitsyna’s and go back home in the morning.
    This was one of those trips to Nachichevan that I could never forget. It was pleasant; yet at the same time it was exciting and scary. Needless to say, when we got home the next day, Papa and Anatoly were extremely happy to see us safe and sound.
MEMORIES OF THE SOLZHENITSYN FAMILY • Nonna’s childhood descriptions of Aleksandr were accurate, and she even kept a photograph of Taissia throughout the war; it survives to this day. Despite her memories of their cook, ingredients to make a Napoleon cake, and the purchase of music, Taissia and Aleksandr lived in relative poverty in their small apartment in Rostov-on-Don. Their many family possessions and all their family wealth had been confiscated by the government. Possibly as a child Nonna never understood the state of the other family’s affairs.

18: Troubled Times
    Rumors of war were spreading throughout Russia, and it seemed inevitable that we were in for some troubled times. Papa was still working at the machinery factory and was in contact with many foreigners from the Western countries. We had many foreign visitors at our home, and Papa would take them into his library and have long conversations with them. I never could really understand the conversations because they were spoken in several languages. However, Papa seemed worried, even though he never talked about the situation with Anatoly and me. He spent as much time with us as he could and would always try to be cheerful—but always teaching us things that would be useful to us later on.
    School was still being held, even though Russians were preparing for war. We would have drills on what to do in the event there were bombs being dropped. The Russian Air Force would fly over and drop fake chemical bombs during these drills. The civilian population were being instructed to dig shelters in their yards. These were to be like large ditches dug in a zigzag fashion that people could jump into in case of an attack. These large ditches were covered with boards in order to keep small children from falling into them. The government was also busy installing air-raid sirens as an alarm system.
    I was doing very well in school, maintaining a straight-A average. However, all these things were distracting. I remember the day I learned a lesson twice—first from my algebra teacher, Dr. Shutzburg, and then from my papa.
    I didn’t like my math teacher, so when he wrote a problem on the blackboard, I knew that I had to do it to him! When he asked for a volunteer to come up and solve the problem, I raised my hand up high (no one else wanted to go to the blackboard). He called my name and I marched up to the blackboard, picked up the chalk, and started to write whatever came to my mind—however stupid it was. When I got to the bottom of the blackboard, I made a “finished” sign. I really enjoyed watching the expression on Dr. Shutzburg’s face as it became red with anger. He told me to go back to my desk and work the same problem exactly as I had done it on the blackboard, and I did what he asked me to do. He asked for my paper, and he wrote a big F on it with red pen. He added the question, “ Why? ” He then put his

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