Etty Hillesum: An Interrupted Life and Letters from Westerbork

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Overview

For the first time, Etty Hillesum's diary and letters appear together to give us the fullest possible portrait of this extraordinary woman in the midst of World War II. In the darkest years of Nazi occupation and genocide, Etty Hillesum remained a celebrant of life whose lucid intelligence, sympathy, and almost impossible gallantry were themselves a form of inner resistance. The adult counterpart to Anne Frank, Hillesum testifies to the possibility of awareness and compassion in the face of the most devastating ...

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Overview

For the first time, Etty Hillesum's diary and letters appear together to give us the fullest possible portrait of this extraordinary woman in the midst of World War II. In the darkest years of Nazi occupation and genocide, Etty Hillesum remained a celebrant of life whose lucid intelligence, sympathy, and almost impossible gallantry were themselves a form of inner resistance. The adult counterpart to Anne Frank, Hillesum testifies to the possibility of awareness and compassion in the face of the most devastating challenge to one's humanity. She died at Auschwitz in 1943 at the age of twenty-nine.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Remarkable . . . What made life meaningful to Etty was the rare combination of erotic, spiritual, and intellectual passions that made up her 'thinking heart.' A truly great book."-The Washington Post Book World
School Library Journal
YAHillesum was in her mid-20s at the time of the Holocaust; her diaries consist mainly of musings about the confusion, perplexities, and struggles all around her and mature into a clear philosophy of love of God and all humanity. Her most intimate thoughts are played out at length, but perseverance results in a rewarding view of humanity. The young woman's letters (the second part of the book) reveal a great deal more detail about the day-to-day life at the transit camp of Westerbork (the last stop before Auschwitz). Here, individual people come into view more clearly, and the horrors and atrocities facing the Jews at that time emerge. That Hillesum could rise above hate and generalization in the midst of such horror and evil reveals a tremendous inner strength. Her courage, determination, and faith reveal her amazing spirit. An inspirational reading experience.Bunni Union, Geauga West Library, Chesterland, OH
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780805050875
  • Publisher: Picador
  • Publication date: 11/28/1996
  • Edition description: Revised
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 175,639
  • Product dimensions: 6.02 (w) x 8.15 (h) x 1.14 (d)

Meet the Author

Etty Hillesum died at Auschwitz in 1943. She was 29.

 

Eva Hoffman is the author of Lost in Translation and Exit into History.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 9 )
Rating Distribution

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(6)

4 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 6, 2013

    Etty writes from the heart in straight forward and unpretentious

    Etty writes from the heart in straight forward and unpretentious language. The book is a deeply personal sharing and reflection of what maturing of faith looks like in one person's life, under trying circumstances.




    Before reading the book, I asked my father, who spoke about what he was reading, a question that amounted to questioning what self-serving motive Etty might have for making herself available to those suffering around her. He was not able to answer my question. I opened the book thinking that I would be changed between the beginning of the book and the end of the book without being able to identify what caused the change. Indeed, I have found that one enters a space and gets comfortable with it, as if it were not new. Etty's words are changing me and I cannot say how it has happened. Yet, I could easily be deluded to say nothing has changed because my better nature was there all along or my emerging better nature was inevitable. There is no definition of a better person, or command to become a better person, or "be like me because I am a better person." One cannot help becoming a better person by walking with Etty on her journey. It is her journey, and her journey is inspiring. This is not a book for those looking to be appalled by the terrifying tragedies of the holocaust or an eye witness account of the horrors.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 2, 2012

    I highly recommend this book. It's very inspiring and interestin

    I highly recommend this book. It's very inspiring and interesting. Etty Hillesum takes you for a journey which you will remember for a long time.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 17, 2008

    Power to change your life

    This is one of the most inspiring diaries ever written. For those searchers who want to remain true to themselves and keep the flame of love alive inside, I highly recommend this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 9, 2002

    This book interupted MY life

    Personally, I think this is one of the most boring books - I couldn't get past the first 60 pages. Maybe it gets more interesting later on, but it moves sooo slowly. Half of the time I couldn't understand what she meant since she was using so many different scenarios. The only people I would recommend this to are people who have lots of time on their hands and have the patience to plow through this book, which I don't. For everyone else, this book will put you right to sleep. I've decided to stay away from personal diaries from now on because of this book. For those who attempt to read this: beware of intense boredom!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2001

    my all time favorite

    This is a book which I return to whenever I feel I need to regain perspective on what it means to be a truly Human being. It is also a book which has been a great help to my children, as they grow older, and I'm sure they will pass it down to theirs. It is a Jewel of a book, full of courage and compassion, with no trace of sentimentality. A real lesson for all of us today facing negativity and uncertainty in life, yet knowing that deep within ourselves there is a shining light to show the way.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2001

    Powerful & Personal

    One of the ten best books I've ever read, this book made Etty shine as one of the brightest lights in the moral history of the century. This book is personal, inspiring, provocative, and beautifully written. No praise is high enough for Etty, nor for her truly great book.

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    Posted December 9, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2010

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