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Diana Wichtel

Diana Wichtel (2018).

Diana Wichtel (born 1950 in Vancouver) is a New Zealand writer and critic.[1] Her mother, Patricia, was a New Zealander; her father, Benjamin Wichtel, a Polish Jew who escaped from the Nazi train taking his family to the Treblinka extermination camp in World War II.[1] When she was 13 her mother brought her to New Zealand to live, along with her two siblings.[2][3] Although he was expected to follow, she never saw her father again.[4][1][5][6] The mystery of her father's life took years to unravel, and is recounted in Wichtel's award-winning book Driving to Treblinka.[7][8] The book has been called "a masterpiece" by New Zealand writer Steve Braunias.[7] New Zealand columnist Margo White wrote: "This is a story that reminds readers of the atrocities that ordinary people did to each other, the effect on those who survived, and the reverberations felt through following generations."[8]

Driving to Treblinka won the Royal Society Te Apārangi Award for General non-fiction at the 2018 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards.[9][10]

Wichtel was appointed staff writer at the New Zealand Listener in 1984.[7] She joined the magazine from the English department at the University of Auckland,[7] where she gained a Master in Arts, and also tutored.[11] She has won many awards for her television criticism, profiles and feature writing. The New Zealand cultural critic and author Adam Dudding has written of Wichtel's "genius" for television reviewing: "Her reviews often strike a tone of tolerant bemusement; she's a visitor from Mars bearing witness to the latest bonkers manifestation of modern culture."[2] Wichtel was still writing for the Listener when its then publisher announced the magazine's closure in April 2020.[12] [13]

The New Zealand Herald's weekend magazine Canvas welcomed Wichtel as a fortnightly columnist in October 2020.[14]


Wichtel has won numerous awards for her journalism:

  • 2001 Qantas Media Awards: Best Magazine Columnist: The Arts - Creative New Zealand Award.[15]
  • 2011 Canon Media Awards Best Magazine Feature Writer Politics[16]
  • 2011 Canon Media Awards Best Magazine Feature Writer Arts[16]
  • 2012 Canon Media Awards: Magazine Feature Writer Arts and Entertainment.[17]
  • 2013 Canon Media Awards: Reviewer of the Year[18]
  • 2019 Voyager Media Awards Reviewer of the Year[19]
  • 2016 Grimshaw Sargeson fellow[20]
  • 2018 Royal Society Te Apārangi Award for General non-fiction: Ockham New Zealand Book Awards.[9]


  1. ^ a b c Wichtel, Diana (2017). Driving to Treblinka : a long search for a lost father (First ed.). Wellington, New Zealand. ISBN 9781927249406. OCLC 1005083001.((cite book)): CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  2. ^ a b "Book review: Driving to Treblinka by Diana Wichtel". Stuff. Retrieved 16 June 2019.
  3. ^ "Diana Wichtel: Driving to Treblinka - The Listener". Noted. Retrieved 18 June 2019.
  4. ^ "Twelve questions: author Diana Wichtel on her family history". New Zealand Herald. 15 May 2018. Retrieved 16 June 2019.
  5. ^ "Scoop Review of Books » Missing". Retrieved 16 June 2019.
  6. ^ "Diana Wichtel's long search for her Holocaust-survivor father". Noted. Retrieved 18 June 2019.
  7. ^ a b c d Braunias, Steve (15 May 2018). "And the winner is: Diana Wichtel". The Spinoff. Retrieved 16 June 2019.
  8. ^ a b White, Margo (5 October 2017). "Book of the Week: a heartbreaking work of genius by Diana Wichtel". The Spinoff. Retrieved 16 June 2019.
  9. ^ a b "Winners | New Zealand Book Awards Trust". Retrieved 16 June 2019.
  10. ^ "Ockham book award non-fiction winner Diana Wichtel". RNZ. 16 May 2018. Retrieved 16 June 2019.
  11. ^ Wichtel, Diana (13 August 2018). Driving to Treblinka: A Long Search for a Lost Father. Awa Press. ISBN 9781927249406.
  12. ^ "A story ended too suddenly: In praise of the NZ magazines of Bauer Media". The Spinoff. 2 April 2020. Retrieved 4 October 2020.
  13. ^ "Diana Wichtel: 'We didn't see the Bauer truck coming' - The University of Auckland". Retrieved 21 March 2021.
  14. ^ Daniell, Sarah (3 October 2020). "From The Editor". Canvas. The Weekend Herald.
  15. ^ "Our people up front in national awards". The New Zealand Herald. 26 May 2001. Retrieved 16 June 2019.
  16. ^ a b " wins supreme award at Canon Media Awards". The New Zealand Herald. 27 May 2011. ISSN 1170-0777. Retrieved 16 June 2019.
  17. ^ "Big Winners at the Canon Media Awards 2012". 19 May 2012. Retrieved 16 June 2019.
  18. ^ "APN makes it six in a row at Canon Media Awards as NZ Herald rejig nets top prize—UPDATED". 13 May 2013. Retrieved 16 June 2019.
  19. ^ "General Winners 2019". Voyager Media Awards. Retrieved 18 June 2019.
  20. ^ "Grimshaw Sargeson Fellowship | Stipend for Published NZ Writers". GrimShaw. Retrieved 16 June 2019.
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Diana Wichtel
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