“At night, as I lay in the camp on my plank bed, surrounded by women and girls gently snoring, dreaming aloud, quietly sobbing and tossing and turning, women and girls who often told me during the day, ‘We don’t want to think, we don’t want to feel, otherwise we are sure to go out of our minds,’ I was sometimes filled with an infinite tenderness, and lay awake for hours letting all the many, too many impressions of a much too long day wash over me, and I prayed, ‘Let me be the thinking heart of these barracks.’ And that is what I want to be again. The thinking heart of a whole concentration camp. I lie here so patiently and now so calmly again, that I feel quite a bit better already. I feel my strength returning to me; I have stopped making plans and worrying about risks. Happen what may, it is bound to be for the good.
cited: E Hillesum, An Interrupted Life. p.191 Trans: A Pomerans)
“Klaas, all really wanted to say is this: we have so much work to do on ourselves that we shouldn’t even be thinking of hating our so-called enemies. We are hurtful enough to one another as it is. And I don’t really know what I mean when I say that there are bullies and bad characters among our own people, for no one is really ‘bad’ deep down. I should have liked to reach out to that man with all his fears, I should have liked to trace the source of his panic, to drive him ever deeper into himself, that is the only thing we can do, Klass, in times like these.
“And you, Klass, give a tired and despondent wave and say, ‘But what you propose to do takes such a long time and we don’t really have all that much time, do we? …
“And I repeat with the same old passion, although I am gradually beginning to think that I am being tiresome, ‘It is the only thing we can do, Klass, I see no alternative, each of us must turn inwards and destroy in himself all that he thinks he ought to destroy in others. And remember that every atom of hate we add to this world makes it still more inhospitable. …'”
cited: The Interrupted Life The Diaries of Etty Hillesum, pp.179-180.