Etty Hillesum: “An Uninterrupted Conversation”

Etty Hillesum was a young Jewish woman living in Amsterdam, fearfully observing the Nazi occupation of her country in the 1940s. Her ‘I’ was born from an encounter, and a work on that encounter – which included writing a diary which describes her journey, and has since been translated into many languages – developed over the next two years until, ultimately, she gave her life for Otherness. She began by helping other Jews in the transit camp of Westerbork, initially from outside and finally by joining them: she was deported to Auschwitz where she died at the age of 29. “In her disrupted, restless life she found God in the very midst of the great tragedy of the 20thCentury: the Shoah. This frail and dissatisfied young woman, transfigured by faith, became a woman full of love and inner peace who was able to declare: ‘I live in constant intimacy with God’.” (Pope Benedict XVI, last audience, 13 February 2013)