A balm for all wounds

May 18, 2017 18:57

Etty Hillesum was an aspiring writer who searched for meaning amid the horrors of the Holocaust. Her insights remain relevant as ever.

Etty Hillesum

Etty Hillesum. (photo credit:Wikimedia Commons)

The year was 1941 when Etty Hillesum began her diary. In a small room on Amsterdam’s Gabriël Metsustraat, just a short walk from the attic where a younger diarist (who would become more famous) would try to elude the Nazis a year later, this 27-year-old aspiring writer agonized over how to commit her inner struggles to the page.

How can one “yield up so much that has been suppressed to a blank sheet of lined paper?” she writes while sitting at a desk strewn with miscellanea – pinecones, exotic flowers, books, a bible, paper and carbon pencils. “The thoughts in my head are sometimes so clear and so sharp and my feelings so deep, but writing about them comes hard.”


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