In 2017 Etty Hillesum was named the greatest Citizen of Middelburg of all time…for good reason! With her diaries and letters from Transit Camp Westerbork, she left a historical and literary document of inestimable value. As the Second World War engulfed the world and National Socialism held Europe in its devastating grip, Etty Hillesum remained able to describe the events of her time. She shared her thoughts on freedom and autonomy, solidarity and the fight against hatred. And she recorded the innermost recesses of her soul, speaking of God and fate, human suffering and love. Her insights have proven over time to be of universal value. They are a source of inspiration worldwide.
The unique opportunity presents itself to make the history of Etty Hillesum and her texts accessible and tangible to a wide audience in the birthplace of Etty Hillesum at Molenwater 77 in Middelburg.
To realise the Etty Hillesum House an international crowdfunding campaign is launched on the Gofundme platform under the title: Help us establish the Etty Hillesum House.
We are very happy with everyone who donates to make it possible that the Etty Hillesum House can open the doors this summer.
Etty Hillesum's ideas remain topical and socially relevant. The question of how to relate as an individual to themes such as enemy thinking, polarization, anti-Semitism, but also solidarity and freedom is a permanent challenge and a necessary and pressing question. All the more reason to want to safeguard the history and ideas of Etty Hillesum for future generations.
It is important that her legacy is preserved, as the last witnesses of the Second World War are disappearing and future generations are moving further and further away from this history. The Etty Hillesum House wants to keep the memory of this special diarist and her fellow sufferers alive and contribute to knowledge and insight about a period of persecution and oppression, a time when people were confronted with war, dictatorship and the serious dilemmas that this entailed. In addition, the house assumes the very important social role of contributing to awareness (and combating) of contemporary anti-Semitism by anticipating this worrying trend in an educational and pedagogical way.
The unique opportunity presents itself to make the history of Etty Hillesum and its texts accessible and tangible to a wide audience in the birthplace of Etty Hillesum at Molenwater 77 in Middelburg.
In her birthplace we will realize The Etty Hillesum House, an institute for education, science, art and culture. Various activities will be developed from these four pillars, including; exhibitions, kids' lectures, poetry workshops, symposiums, educational activities and lectures. In addition, the Etty Hillesum Research Center (EHOC) founded in 2006 by the former director Prof. Dr. Klaas Smelik will move to the birthplace as well to continue the important work.
Now Molenwater 77 is still a dental practice and there is a lot of work to be done, but we hope to open the doors in the summer of 2021!