ABB Etty Hillesum

Etty Hillesum „Complete diaries and letters – 1941-1943“

Publicizing and disseminating the writings of Etty Hillesum

Etty Hillesum „All Diaries and letters – 1941-1943“

Staying human even under the worst conditions

Etty Hillesum lived in Amsterdam in the Netherlands during the German occupation. She was Jewish. In 1941, she began writing a diary as a result of psychotherapy. She wanted to become a writer and
wrote herself „I want to become the chronicler of my time“. Although the reprisals against the Jewish population became increasingly severe and she herself was eventually sent to a transit camp and later to an extermination camp, she remained convinced that there are always beautiful things to be found in life and that life is worth cherishing. During this terrible time, she was already thinking about the time afterwards. She knew there would be an after and that it was important to deal with it.

She always looked at things in a differentiated and not one-dimensional way and always from other perspectives. This is a perspective that we also urgently need today.


The CHAJA Foundation would like to help publicize and disseminate Etty Hillesum’s writings and thus promote an active engagement with them. The aim is to show that even under the worst conditions it is possible to remain human, to appreciate life and not fall prey to hatred. Because by dealing with oneself and maintaining one’s own humanity, the cycle of violence (and counter-violence) can be interrupted.


The CHAJA Foundation organized a reading of excerpts from „all diaries and letters“ at the Literaturhaus Frankfurt, which was accompanied by an expert on her biography. For this purpose, meaningful and thematically relevant passages were selected that primarily reflect the human aspects, views and attitudes of Etty Hillesum.