Driving To Treblinka – Diana Wichtel


Chosen by Sonya

A New Zealand woman traces her father’s World War II history and discovers a heartbreaking truth.

✚ “Driving To Treblinka is a memoir by New Zealand journalist Diana Wichtel. In it she seeks to redeem the past, a past in which she did not truly know her father Ben, nor his sufferings trying to evade the Nazis in German-controlled Poland.

“The biographical book opens with lines from her father’s autopsy report, so it is clear from the outset that there will be no happy reunion. Each chapter starts this way, with a quote from a report, or official document that slowly reveals her father’s demise.

“The author’s life is highly detailed throughout. Her life with her father in Canada, her years without him in New Zealand, the years spent wondering, the years spent searching, the years spent guilt-stricken, agonising over her own culpability.

“Also highly detailed are the discoveries about her father’s life, including those discovered on the road to Treblinka, an extermination camp. It’s fair to say these revelations are moving, sad, even distressing, with intimate accounts of how holocaust atrocities affected not only Ben but his extended family members for the rest of their lives.

“Thematically Wichtel has investigated how secrets and silence can damage families. She makes it clear that not being told the truth created more damage than the reality she was being shielded from ever could.

There are a million reasons why we don’t talk about the truth and one of those is because the mother cries.

“There is hope too, loving family bonds and resolve to offset the secrets but the story remains honest, honouring her father, rather than all tied up like a fictional story.

✚ “Driving to Treblinka is a fresh take on what we all thought we knew about the Holocaust. Its impact is in the study of the power of truth – the manipulation of truth – and the layers of degradation that remain secret. Yet after all these years, those affected still hope for a different view of the world.” – Sonya

✚ “A page-turner that moves, educates, and captivates via the study of the social repercussions of events, – how people react and change in response to an event, and how that effect ripples down through families. When these investigations are undertaken honestly the result is as this book is, heart wrenchingly affecting.” – Rachel

✚ “I really enjoyed this book and was emotionally invested throughout. It is a harrowing, eye-opening account of how trauma is passed down through generations. It investigates what is required to counter this persecution. I have not cried over a book in many years, but this was heartbreaking.” – Jo

✚ “The theme of remembrance resonated from this book for me. At the heart of it, we all want to be remembered and loved. Yet our histories extend beyond our own lives and what we carry forward affects how we act and how we are remembered.” – Becks

✚ “When you didn’t think there were any more war stories to be heard, something like this surprises you. It demonstrated that the byproduct of one person’s experience lasts longer than they do.” – Jodie

Published 2017
Awa Press
278 pages

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