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Etty: The Letters and Diaries of Etty Hillesum 1941-1943

de Etty Hillesum

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Commissioned by the Etty Hillesum Foundation, "Etty" is the only complete, unabridged edition of the letters and diaries of a singular hero -- and victim -- of the Nazi Holocaust.This fascinating, profound, and often moving body of work reveals the interior life of a brilliant young Jewish woman. Born in January 1914, Etty Hillesum began her diary in 1941, nine months after Hitler invaded her home country of the Netherlands. The record she kept for the next two years contains arresting personal reflections and chronicles her social, intellectual, and -- most significantly -- spiritual growth. In addition to her ongoing search for God and truth, one of the most noted and instructive features of Ettys development was her recognition of, and her struggle to overcome, the disorder within her own being. It was her success in finally transcending her own sense of captivity within that allowed her to rise above cruel and fearsome circumstances without.Indeed, in the midst of the horrors of the Nazi Holocaust, Ettys writings reveal a woman who celebrated life and remained an undaunted example of courage, sympathy, and compassion. Letters that she wrote to friends during her internment at the Westerbork transit camp poignantly describe the day-to-day horrors that the Jewish prisoners faced. Nonetheless, Ettys courage and determination remained strong, allowing her to rise above the hate around her and express her irrepressible faith in humanity. As she wrote in her last letter, thrown from the train that took her to her death at Auschwitz, We left the camp singing.Through this splendid edition of Ettys writing, edited by Klaas A. D. Smelik and translated by Arnold J. Pomerans,readers everywhere will resonate with the spirit of this remarkable woman.… (més)
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Beginning in March of 1941 Etty Hillesum, a twenty-seven year old Dutch-born Jewish woman and Holocaust victim, began writing in a series of diaries – an attempt to unclutter her mind and sort her thoughts. World War II was in full swing and the Nazis were invading Europe. These diaries, as well as several letters to and from Etty Hillesum, have been compiled and published for the world to read in this hefty one-volume book.
The collection comprises eleven “exercise books” (diaries) spanning from March 8, 1941 to October 13, 1942. One of the books, number seven, has been lost and never recovered. Several letters, dated between approximately January 13, 1941 and September 9, 1943 follow, written mostly by Etty. A few letters written to Etty have also been preserved. But the most heart-wrenching letters, and some of the most precious pages in this book, are the two letters written about Etty and the last days before her death.
The introduction gives readers a prequel to this time in Etty’s life as well as an overview of the three years she was writing. Forty-nine black and white photos provided by The Etty Hillesum Foundation accompany the text to provide a truly vivid glimpse into Etty’s life. Among them are snapshots of Etty as well as her family, friends, and loved ones (and even a few enemies.) Also included are photocopies of a few haunting documents, such as Etty’s order to report to Camp Westerbork – a Nazi transit camp – and the postcard Etty wrote which she threw out of the train taking her to Auschwitz and her death. Opposite the page with Etty’s first diary entry is a full-page photo of Etty sitting at her beloved desk where she did most of her writing. It is striking because it gives the reader a stark realization of how very young she really was at the time of her suffering and death.
It’s truly amazing to read the story of one who survived or was killed in the Holocaust and every story is every bit different and every bit the same. Each one deserves to be told. Here we learn about the life of a young woman who was brilliant, highly educated, very well read, and a little bit crazy. Etty was full of life and full of herself. Klaas A. Smelink, who provided the introduction, described her as “depressive and egocentric” (xiv). Her life was centered around maintaining (or fixing) her mental health. This is seen through the pages upon pages that were written about famous psychologists such as C. G. Jung as well as paragraphs full of her own insightful quotes.
Etty was professionally involved with a man named Dr. Julius Spier. Spier was a successful psycho-chirologist in Amsterdam, where Etty lived. Etty was introduced to Spier and his psycho-chirology (psychoanalyzing of the lines on the hand) by a friend, Bernard Meylink. Etty was fascinated and became a student of Spier’s as well as his secretary. She quickly became obsessed with the fifty-five year old man, which is the bulk of what she writes about. They had an intimate relationship, however, Spier was engaged to a woman who had fled to England. Etty was also in a relationship with another man, Hans Wergerif, who was thirty-five years her senior.
Little is mentioned in Etty’s earlier diaries about the war or the Nazi invasion. However, as time went on and the invasion in the Netherlands intensified, stories began to unfold about friends and acquaintances that had either been killed in a concentration camp or committed suicide. Etty, herself, seemed to think she was beyond becoming a victim. It wasn’t until thousands of Dutch Jews were being rounded up in Amsterdam that she began to write of the inevitability of being deported. And even then, her writing focused more on how she would handle matters should Dr. Spier be taken off to a camp, often stating that she would follow him.
As time forges on, Etty’s writing becomes less academic and more historic. She dwells less on herself and more on the loving God she doesn’t understand but trusts anyway.
What began as a writing assignment given by her dear Dr. Spier, Etty’s diaries transformed into a heart-wrenching first-hand account of the brutality of the Jewish Holocaust. The letters that follow are even more alarming as she writes about life in a Nazi transit camp. We also learn through these letters that, even though she may have been a bit egocentric, she did everything she could to stay in Camp Westerbork with the sole purpose of helping her fellow suffering Jews. “…I hope they will send me to a labor camp so that I can do something for the sixteen-year-old girls who will also be going…And to reassure distracted parents who are kept behind, saying ‘Don’t worry, I’ll look after your children’…” (483).
One of the most impressive features of this book, though, is the extensive “Notes” section, which is basically a collection of endnotes. The amount of detail added by the editor is astonishing. Great pains must have been taken to retrieve all of this invaluable information. It serves to give the reader a fuller, clearer picture of the context of Etty’s world. It includes detailed biographical information on most of the people Etty mentions in her diaries and letters as well and an insight into the current events of her day as relates to her entries. For instance, a note on Max Osias Korman tells us his date and place of birth and death, a brief biography of his life, how he knew Etty, quotes about him from a friend, and what he did after the war (746). It is truly an impressive documentation of history.
Through all of her moodiness and her ups and downs, Etty’s outlook was truly positive. She refused to hate those responsible for the annihilation of her race and always spoke of what she had versus what she didn’t have. Her dream was to become a successful writer. Like a seed that must die before it sprouts new life, Etty’s dream came true. Her last days on earth were an illustration of a few words she wrote not long before she died: “Never say die, never run away, take everything in, then just suffer, its not so bad, but never, never say die –“ (356). ( )
1 vota AnnaScott | Jun 25, 2010 |
een wijsgerig boek over leven en schrijven en menslievendheid en liefde en creativiteit en depressie
  Heldinne | Oct 24, 2009 |
Spiritual, Jewish literature,1940s, 20th century, biography, memoir, concentration camps, contemplative theology, female author, Holland, Holocaust/WWII, Letters and diaries, Memoir, Netherlands, nonfiction ( )
1 vota | aharkavy | Mar 25, 2007 |
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Nom de l'autorCàrrecTipus d'autorObra?Estat
Etty Hillesumautor primaritotes les edicionscalculat
Lodders, GideonEditorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Smelik, Klaas A DEditorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Tempelaars, RobEditorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
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diaries + letters + notes (over 800 pages total)
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Commissioned by the Etty Hillesum Foundation, "Etty" is the only complete, unabridged edition of the letters and diaries of a singular hero -- and victim -- of the Nazi Holocaust.This fascinating, profound, and often moving body of work reveals the interior life of a brilliant young Jewish woman. Born in January 1914, Etty Hillesum began her diary in 1941, nine months after Hitler invaded her home country of the Netherlands. The record she kept for the next two years contains arresting personal reflections and chronicles her social, intellectual, and -- most significantly -- spiritual growth. In addition to her ongoing search for God and truth, one of the most noted and instructive features of Ettys development was her recognition of, and her struggle to overcome, the disorder within her own being. It was her success in finally transcending her own sense of captivity within that allowed her to rise above cruel and fearsome circumstances without.Indeed, in the midst of the horrors of the Nazi Holocaust, Ettys writings reveal a woman who celebrated life and remained an undaunted example of courage, sympathy, and compassion. Letters that she wrote to friends during her internment at the Westerbork transit camp poignantly describe the day-to-day horrors that the Jewish prisoners faced. Nonetheless, Ettys courage and determination remained strong, allowing her to rise above the hate around her and express her irrepressible faith in humanity. As she wrote in her last letter, thrown from the train that took her to her death at Auschwitz, We left the camp singing.Through this splendid edition of Ettys writing, edited by Klaas A. D. Smelik and translated by Arnold J. Pomerans,readers everywhere will resonate with the spirit of this remarkable woman.

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