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Esther “Etty” Hillesum

Born: January 15th, 1914
Died: Believed to have died in November 30th of 1943 at Auschwitz
Parents: Levi Hillesum (Father)
Siblings: Jaap (Brother) and Mischa (Br0ther) – 1 unknown
Career Interest: Author
Diary Title: An Interrupted Life: The Diaries of Etty Hillesum 1941 -1943

“If I should survive and keep saying, “Life is beautiful and meaningful,” then they will have to believe me. If all this suffering does not help us to broaden our horizon, to attain a greater humanity by shedding and trifling any irrelevant issues, then it will all have been for nothing.”

– Etty Hillesum[1]

Etty was in the Netherlands when the Nazis took over. Her diary would describe the environment and persecutions against the Jewish peoples. Etty took on important roles such as working in the Judenrat and voluntarily transferring to work at the Westerbork transit camp on 22 July 1942. Etty’s diary shows the struggle she faces as her entire world is changed by the presence of the Nazis, and her love for people and humanity is also shown throughout the diary. Her diary shows hope in the face of a great terror – the Nazi regime.

Etty was transferred on September 7, 1943. Her final entry reads: “…I am sitting on my rucksack in the middle of a full freight car. Father, Mother, and Mischa are a few cars away. In the end, the departure came without warning. On sudden special orders from The Hague. We left the camp singing, Father and Mother firmly and calmly, Mischa, too. We shall be traveling for three days…” [1]

[1] Esther Hillesum – An Interrupted Life: The Diaries of Etty Hillesum 1941-43 – ISBN 978-0671745554