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Esther Hillesum

Birthplace: Middelburg, Zeeland, Netherlands
Death: November 30, 1943 (29)
Gmina Oświęcim, Oświęcim County, Lesser Poland Voivodeship, Poland (Holocaust)
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Levie Hillesum and Riva Bernstein
Sister of Jacob Hillesum and Michael (Mischa) Hillesum

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Immediate Family

About Etty Hillesum

MIDDELBURG - Etty Hillesum heeft in de Tweede Wereldoorlog geholpen bij het smokkelen van Joodse kinderen uit kamp Westerbork om hun levens te redden. Dat blijkt uit onderzoek door literatuurwetenschapper Bettine Siertsema.

Etty lived in the same time period and only blocks from where Anne Frank was hiding, and had the advantage of living as a Jewish housekeeper in a non-Jewish household.

Esther Etty Hillesum grew up in Deventer, a small city in the east of the Netherlands. There she attended the local gymnasium, of which her father, Dr. L. Hillesum, was the director and where he also taught classical languages. Her mother, Rebecca Bernstein, was born in Russia but fled to the Netherlands because of a pogrom.

Hillesum and her two brothers, Mischa and Jaap, were unusually gifted. Mischa was a pianist who performed Beethoven in public at the age of six and held the promise of being one of the greatest piano players in Europe.

Jaap finished the Gymnasium in less than the normal six years and became a physician after discovering some new vitamins when he was seventeen.

When Hillesum was eighteen she moved to Amsterdam, where she initially took her first degree in law and then enrolled in the faculty of Slavonic Languages to study Russian. All three were promising young people whose lives were cut short simply because they were Jews.

Just before the war Hillesum became a housekeeper in a huge house (Gabriel Metsustraat 6) overlooking the Museumplein, with the Concert Hall at one end and the Rijksmuseum at the other. The owner of the house, sixty-two-year-old Han Wegerif, soon became her lover. The “family” inhabiting “father” Han’s house were, together with students whom she taught Russian, the first main circle of characters described throughout the diary.

The second circle were people associated with Julius Spier (“S”), a fifty-six-year old “psychochirologist” who diagnosed by reading palms and, following analysis training with Carl Jung, also provided therapy—albeit of an unusual kind. After a few therapeutic sessions Hillesum became his assistant, intellectual partner and ultimately also his lover.

Hillesum started her diary on March 9, 1941, when the Germans had occupied the Netherlands for nearly one year. Yet it was not the war that seems to have prompted her writing. Overwhelmed by Spier’s charismatic personality and teaching, she used her diary to think and to comprehend the essence of human nature while simultaneously rebuilding her personality. As her diary progressed, she developed religious insights that have little to do with established religion and culminated in a mystical relationship with the God inside her. . . . Continued

Etty Hillesum: An Interrupted Life the Diaries, 1941-1943

Etty Hillesum Centrum te Deventer - Roggestraat 3 - 7411 EP Deventer - 0570-641003

Kind: Esther Hillesum
Geslacht: Vrouw Geboorteplaats: Middelburg Geboortedatum: donderdag 15 januari 1914 Vader: Levie Hillesum Moeder: Riva Bernstein Gebeurtenis: Geboorte Datum: donderdag 15 januari 1914 Gebeurtenisplaats: Middelburg


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Etty Hillesum's Timeline

January 15, 1914
Middelburg, Zeeland, Netherlands
November 30, 1943
Age 29
Gmina Oświęcim, Oświęcim County, Lesser Poland Voivodeship, Poland