March 17, 1942-Etty Hillesum

80 years ago today.

“We are not allowed to walk the Promenade any longer & every miserable little clump of two or three trees has been pronounced a wood with a board nailed up: No admittance of Jews. More and more of these boards are appearing all over the place. Nevertheless there is still enough room for one to move and live and be happy and play music and love each other.”

Etty Hillesum, March 17, 1942 – A Life Interrupted

How does one keep such a positive attitude in the face of adversity? Etty did not focus on the growing list of places banned from Jews; but rather on the things she could still control: The choice to be happy, to live, to play music, and to love others. For her, these were the things that brought meaning and beauty to life.

These restrictions were the Nuremberg Laws, enacted in 1935, and eventually became law in the Netherlands. Among other regulations, these laws prevented Jews from parks and gardens to protect the health and enjoyment of Aryans.

Men walking a street in Amsterdam 1930's-1950's.

Photo Nationaal Archief

Get the full version of A Life Interrupted and Letters from Westerbork. (Affiliate link)

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