The Best Etty Hillesum quotes

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What can we learn from Etty Hillesum, an unassuming young woman who was living in the Netherlands when it was occupied by the Nazis during World War II? Quite a lot, as it turns out. This week, let’s take a look at some of the important life lessons we can learn from her experiences. Etty was able to find peace and compassion in the face of unthinkable horror, and her best quotes is an inspiration to us all.

Discover the most interesting quotes from Etty Hillesum, and much more.


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About Etty Hillesum

birth of the author

15 January 1914

death of the author

30 November 1943

country of the author


occupation of the author


knownfor of the author

Known For:
Diary And Letters From Camp Westerbork

Inspiring Phrases From Etty Hillesum

Here, beside this great black surface that is my desk, I feel as though I am on a desert island. โ€” Etty Hillesum

Such words as ‘God’ and ‘Death’ and ‘Suffering’ and ‘Eternity’ are best forgotten. We have to become as simple and as wordless as the growing corn or the falling rain. We must just be. โ€” Etty Hillesum

How rash to assert that man shapes his own destiny. All he can do is determine his inner responses. โ€” Etty Hillesum

The more peace there is in us, the more peace there will be in our troubled world. โ€” Etty Hillesum

the more peace there is in us the more peace there will be in our troubled world Etty Hillesum quote

Every word born of an inner necessityโ€“writing must never be anything else. โ€” Etty Hillesum

I don’t think I have nerves of steel, far from it, but I can certainly stand up to things. I am not afraid to look suffering straight in the eyes. โ€” Etty Hillesum

That fear of missing out on things makes you miss out on everything. โ€” Etty Hillesum

Various Statements From Etty Hillesum

I do believe it is possible to create, even without ever writing a word or painting a picture, by simply molding one’s inner life. And that too is a deed. โ€” Etty Hillesum

Never give up, never escape, take everything in, and perhaps suffer, that’s not too awful either, but never, never give up. โ€” Etty Hillesum

i m afraid i did not pray hard enough last night Etty Hillesum quote

I’m afraid I did not pray hard enough last night. โ€” Etty Hillesum

Each of us must turn inward and destroy in himself all that he thinks he ought to destroy in others. โ€” Etty Hillesum

I don’t want to be anything special. I only want to try to be true to that in me which seeks to fulfill its promise. โ€” Etty Hillesum

Life cannot be captured in a few axioms. And that is just what I keep trying to do. But it won’t work, for life is full of endless nuances and cannot be captured in just a few formulae. โ€” Etty Hillesum

One must also accept that One has ‘uncreative’ moments. the more hOnestly One can accept that, the quicker these moments will pass. โ€” Etty Hillesum

More Phrases From Etty Hillesum

As life becomes harder and more threatening, it also becomes richer, because the fewer expectations we have, the more good things of life become unexpected gifts that we accept with gratitude. โ€” Etty Hillesum

We have to fight them daily, lake fleas, those many small worries about the morrow, for they sap our energies. โ€” Etty Hillesum

We are always in search of the redeeming formula, the crystallizing thought. โ€” Etty Hillesum

Life is good, after all…and that’s what stays with me, even now, even when I’m about to be packed off to Poland. โ€” Etty Hillesum

Redundant Thematics

In Etty Hillesum Statements


We should be willing to act as a balm for all wounds. โ€” Etty Hillesum

we are always in search of the redeeming formula the crystallizing thought Etty Hillesum quote

Despite everything, life is full of beauty and meaning. โ€” Etty Hillesum

And now that I don’t want to own anything any more and am free, now I suddenly own everything, now my inner riches are immeasurable. โ€” Etty Hillesum

Deeper Quotes From Etty Hillesum

Our desire must be like a slow and stately ship, sailing across endless oceans, never in search of safe anchorage. Then suddenly, unexpectedly, it will find mooring for a moment. โ€” Etty Hillesum

That I should die next week, I would still be able to sit at my desk all week and study with perfect equanimity, for I know now that life and death make a meaningful whole. โ€” Etty Hillesum

Suffering has always been with us; does it really matter in what form it comes? All that matters is how we bear it and how we fit it into our lives. โ€” Etty Hillesum

Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths, or the turning inwards in prayer for five short minutes. โ€” Etty Hillesum

Everything is chance, or nothing is chance. If I believed the first, I would be unable to live on, but I am not yet fully convinced of the second. โ€” Etty Hillesum

There are moments when I feel like giving up or giving in, but I soon rally again and do my duty as I see it: to keep the spark of life inside me ablaze. โ€” Etty Hillesum

I know and share the many sorrows a human being can experience, but I do not cling to them; they pass through me, like life itself, as a broad eternal stream…and life continues… โ€” Etty Hillesum

ETTY HILLESUM Quotes Take Away

Etty Hillesumโ€™s words continue to inspire people decades after she wrote them. She is a testament to the idea that even in the darkest of times, there is always some light. If you are feeling discouraged or lost, take a moment to read through her quotes. They will remind you that no matter what life throws your way, you can find peace and happiness if you look for it. And if you need more help finding your way, our courses can guide you on your journey. We hope they provide the same inspiration for you as Etty Hillesumโ€™s words have for so many others.

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