Bernard Weinstein Etty Hillesum Author

Dr. Bernard Weinstein, Professor and Founding Director, MA in Holocaust and Genocide Studies, B.A., City College of New York, M.A., New York University, Ph.D., New York University.

Bernard Weinstein is now Professor Emeritus.


Dr. Weinstein is Professor of English at Kean College of New Jersey, where he is involved with an oral history project of the Holocaust Resource Center. He has published other essays on the Holocaust and is currently writing a biography of Michel Thomas, educator, Holocaust survivor, French Resistance fighter, and counter-intelligence officer during World War II.

We report here the first paragraph of professor’s Weinstein article:

There is a special poignancy in reading the diary of one who did not survive the Shoah, for in such a memoir, as in a Sophoclean tragedy, the audience knows the protagonist’s fate, at which the protagonist can only guess. At the same time the protagonist’s words resonate with the hope the ambition, the desperate energy, and, sometimes, the “enlightenment that precede terminal despair. Esther (“Etty”) Hillesum, the Dutch-Jewish diarist, died in Auschwitz, probably on November 30, 1943.[1] 1 Her parents and her brother Mischa were probably already dead by this time; the older of her two brothers, Jaap, survived the death camp only to perish in transition as he was returning to Holland after the war. Lacking the perspective of a survivor, she was still able to transcribe with evolving awareness what was developing around her. Yet, what is even more extraordinary, Etty was able to complete and to record in less than three years an internal evolution that took her from self-involvement to cosmic consciousness and dialogue with God, and, finally, to the translation of her spirituality into activity in behalf of her fellow Jews on the verge of extinction.

[1] Etty Hillesum, An Interrupted Life: The Diaries of Etty Hillesum, 1941-1943, trans. Arno Pomerans (New York: Pantheon, 1983), p. 277.

Published on Etty Hillesum by Bernard Weinstein

  • Bernard Weinstein, ETTY HILLESUM’S “AN INTERRUPTED LIFE”: SEARCHING FOR THE HUMAN. In Shofar, Vol. 11, No. 3 (Spring 1993), pp. 80-88). Published By: Purdue University Press. Available for consultation on JSTOR.
  • The journal’s website.


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