Etty Hillesum




Esther “Etty” Hillesum (15 January 1914 in Middelburg, Netherlands – 30 November 1943 in Auschwitz, Poland) was a young Jewish woman whose letters and diaries, kept between 1941 and 1943, describe life in Amsterdam during the German occupation. They were published posthumously in 1981, before being translated into English in 1983.

In the meantime the letters and diary are translated in many languages. More and more Etty Hillesum’s name and writings are known for more and more people and it is still growing. Her texts are nourishing emotionally, mentally and spiritualy, are a proof of the possibility to transform life by accepting (even the worst) circumstances instead of running away for what life brings. She was joining the Jews to Westerbork, freely. She did not want to leave her people. Though she had the possibility to escape.

There is a film  and a play about her, but I do not believe so much that it is possible to perform Etty Hillesum in a way that you can really experience her inbeing, her thoughts, Etty. To understand Etty it is needed to read the book. To feel her presence in her own words and indeed, even translated words are not her words in fact and not so close as her own words. But at least much closer to her than the actress who cannot have the deep awareness of the soul Etty Hillesum had.  Impossible!! Sensitive souls feel that immediately.

Another, and better way of “performing” Etty Hillesum is painting her. I found three different paintings on internet and they are indeed all three completely different from each other. I used them in my video about her: “Etty Hillesum, the road from Amsterdam via Westerbork to Auschwitz”. In the video I used also sceneries of Amsterdam in the years that Etty Hillesum lived there. Also sceneries from Westerbork, the deportations of the Jews from Westerbork to Auschwitz, where she passed away on 30 November 1943.                                                 =======

Sources and additional information

  1. Google+: Etty Hillesum
  2. Music in the video: