Etty Project

What begins for a young Dutch Jewish woman, Etty Hillesum as part of her therapy ― recording her thoughts in a diary — evolves into one of the most harrowing, moving, beautifully written documents to emerge from the Holocaust.

Etty For Our Times

Etty Hillesum is a young Jewish Dutch woman writing diaries in Amsterdam during the Second World War. In these diaries and later, her letters from Westerbork concentration camp, Etty bears witness to what it means to be human and commits herself to a radical choice: not to hate, even as she opens her heart to the horrors unfolding around her. She wrestles to write the life she is living — her loves, her work, her humor, her spirituality, and her transformation. She was murdered in Auschwitz in 1943 at the age of 29.

In February 1942 she writes: I really see no other solution than to turn inward and to root out all the rottenness there. I no longer believe that we can change anything in the world until we have first changed ourselves. And that seems to me the only lesson to be learned from this war. Etty asks us not to leave her in Auschwitz but to have a tiny little bit of a say in what she hopes will be a new world.

Portrait photograph (glass positive) of Etty Hillesum, circa 1939.
Etty Hillesum in 1939

Introducing Etty Project

, the one-woman play told in Hillesum’s own words, opens us to the moment of her becoming, just as the world around her is coming undone. The second act asks the audience to join the conversation, fostering dialogue on human rights, resistance, and personal responsibility.

The Etty Project propels little known diaries into our own time to connect us with people from history, one story at a time. Workshops and residencies in schools, universities, prisons, and houses of worship consider the dangers and consequences of racism, antisemitism, and discrimination and promote social justice. Performances and workshops are customized to venue and audience.

Susan Stein as Etty