Saturday, January 5, 2013

God Is Not Accountable To Us, But We Are To Him

From the diary of Etty Hillesum:

June, 1942
God is not accountable to us, but we are to Him. I know what might lie in wait for us. Even now I am cutoff from my parents and cannot reach then, although they are only two hours away by train. But I know exactly where they are, and that they're not going short of food and that there are many kind people all around them. And they know where I am, too. But I am also aware that there may come a time when I shan't know where they are, when they might be deported to perish miserably in some unknown place. I know this is perfectly possible. The latest news is that all Jews will be transported out of Holland through Drenthe Province and then on to Poland. And the English radio has reported that 700,000 Jews perished last year alone, in Germany and the occupied territories. And even if we stay alive, we shall carry the wounds with us throughout our lives. And yet I don't think life is meaningless. And God is not accountable to us for the senseless harm we cause one another. We are accountable to Him!  I have already died a thousand deaths in a thousand concentration camps. I know about everything and am no longer appalled by the latest reports. In one way or another, I know it all. And yet I find life beautiful and meaningful.
This is from the book, An Interrupted Life and Letters from Westerbork, by Etty Hillesum, p.150. Etty Hillesum was a secular, assimilated Jew living in Amsterdam who died in Auswitch in 1943. The diary was written after the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, while the Nazis were persecuting the Jews and shipping them off to concentration camps. Etty had a degree in law and then studied Russian language and literature. On her own she read philosophy, psychology, especially, Carl Jung, and poetry, especially Rilke. She was a patient,  personal secretary, and physical intimate of the psychoanalyst Julius Spier, also a Jew. He introduced her to the gospels and the writings of St. Augustine. Etty had several opportunities to escape the Nazi persecution, Instead she insisted on serving her fellow Jews to the very end and chose to suffer the same fate as they. Her last letter was a postcard tossed from the window of the train as it left for the concentration camp.

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