Driving to Treblinka
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.