Driving to Treblinka
A Long Search for a Lost Father
About the Book
An intimate memoir recounting a woman’s quest to solve the mystery of her Holocaust survivor father’s death.
As a child growing up in Vancouver in the 1950s and early ’60s, Diana Wichtel knew there was something different about her family. Her parents were far from forthcoming about the harrowing details of her Jewish father’s journey from Poland to Canada during the Second World War, often leaving young Diana with more questions than answers.
She was told that during the War, Benjamin Wichtel and several members of his family were herded onto a train headed for the Treblinka extermination camp. Along the way, Benjamin seized the opportunity to jump off the train, leaving his loved ones behind. Evading the Nazis for the remainder of the War, Benjamin made his way to Canada and new life with a family of his own. But the past haunted him, and the pain of what he had gone through infiltrated his home life. When Diana was thirteen, her mother took her three children back to her native New Zealand, with the plan that Benjamin would follow them. However, the family never saw him again.
After decades of unanswered questions, Diana (now a journalist), set out on her own to uncover what happened to her father. The search became an obsession as she uncovered information about his Warsaw family and their fate at the hands of the Nazis, scoured archives for clues to her father’s disappearance, and visited the places he lived. This unforgettable memoir is a reflection on the meaning of family, the trauma of loss, and the insistence of memory.