Driv­ing to Tre­blinka

Australian Women’s Weekly NZ - - ON SCREEN - by Diana Wich­tel, Awa Press.

Auck­land jour­nal­ist Diana Wich­tel’s in­cred­i­bly mov­ing fam­ily mem­oir is ut­terly ab­sorb­ing. It’s a Holo­caust story, but with a fo­cus on what came af­ter – how the ten­ta­cles of trauma reach out across gen­er­a­tions and ge­og­ra­phy. It’s also a story of tenac­ity, in a bid to find an­swers. Diana’s fa­ther, Ben­jamin Wich­tel, was a Pol­ish Jew and Holo­caust sur­vivor. Af­ter the war, he moved to Canada, mar­ried Diana’s mother Pa­tri­cia, a New Zealan­der, and had three chil­dren. When Diana was 13, her mother re­turned to Auck­land, tak­ing the chil­dren. Their fa­ther was meant to fol­low, but he never made the trip and they lost con­tact with him. Years later, hav­ing learned of her fa­ther’s death, Diana re­solves to find out what hap­pened to him. Her re­lent­less re­search and trav­els across the globe re­veal her fam­ily’s tragic his­tory and her fa­ther’s re­mark­able es­cape from be­ing a vic­tim of the Tre­blinka death camp. It also opens un­healed wounds. Yet there is tri­umph too, as the scat­tered rem­nants of a dis­placed fam­ily con­nect and re­alise their very ex­is­tence is a form of vic­tory.

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