The Wiener Library

For the Study of the Holocaust & Genocide


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Copyright Ricardo Barros

Copyright Ricardo Barros

ETTY: A performance by Susan Stein

Wed 17 Feb 2016

Time: 6.30pm-8.30pm

ETTY is a touring one-woman play based on the diaries and letters of Etty Hillesum, adapted and performed by Susan Stein. Directed by Austin Pendleton.

“If I should not survive, how I die will show me who I really am.” (Etty Hillesum)

Using only Etty Hillesum's words, Susan Stein's adaptation brings us to 1941 when Esther "Etty" Hillesum, a young Dutch Jewish woman, is living in Amsterdam. Upon the recommendation of her therapist, Julius Spier, she began a diary on 8 March 1941 to help her with her depression. Hoping to become a writer, the diaries take on their own literary life, presenting both Etty's growth as a writer and spiritual transformation. As deportations begin, she prepares for the three day journey eastward, she digs deeper into her soul to understand this piece of history and root out any hatred or bitterness, believing that humanity is the best and only solution for survival. Etty's words, insights and beliefs reach out from the Holocaust and allow us to see the power of hope and individual thought in the most extreme circumstances. In her gentle yet forthright way, Etty asks us not to leave her at Auschwitz but to let her have a bit of a say in what she hopes will be a new world.

Etty Hillesum writes the life she is living – her loves, her work, her wry sense of humor, her deep sensuality and the moment in history. In facing the horrors of her circumstances rather than shrinking from them, she finds an unshakeable force within herself able to stand up to forces out to destroy her.

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The work of Etty Hillesum and the performance will be introduced by Jane Fenoulhet, Professor of Dutch Studies at UCL. Professor Fenoulhet works in Dutch and Comparative Literature and Translation Studies, and in addition to courses on Dutch literature, she teaches on Holocaust writing. Her recent research focuses on the role of translation in the wider dissemination of literary works, including studies of adaptations of the Diary of Etty Hillesum for performance. Her recent books include Making the Political Personal. Dutch Women Writers 1919-1970 (2007 - chapter on Hillesum) and Nomadic Literature (2013).

Tickets are £10 plus a small booking fee, and bookings can be made below. Tickets (cash purchase) will also be sold at the door. Enquiries can be made by phone on 0207 636 7247 or via e-mail at

Location: The Wiener Library - click for map

How to book: