Document Type


Article Version

Publisher's PDF

Publication Date

Spring 3-1-2001


Etty Hillesum, a Dutch Jew who died at Auschwitz at the age of twenty-nine, left behind a diary and letters written during the last two years of her life. In An Interrupted Life and Letters from Westerbork, Hillesum tells a deeply moving story of religious experience, evil and suffering, spiritual growth, and interior and exterior moral transformation. While current scholarship on Hillesum focuses almost entirely on her personal life and religious journey, this essay examines the moral vision that emerges in her writings. Hillesum's diaries and letters present an engaging vision of the moral life--one that points with clarity to the importance of love of God and love of neighbor. This essay proposes that a love ethic is at the center of Hillesum's worldview and examines major influences on her religious and moral thought.

Publication Title


Published Citation

Hannafey, Francis T. "Ethics as Transformative Love: The Moral World of Etty Hillesum." Horizons 28.1 (Spring 2001): 68-80.

Peer Reviewed