David Oliver’s lecture series, “Blessed Lives in the Time of Crisis,” continues on Sunday, April 24 with a talk on Etty Hillesum and the crisis of war and genocide.
Oliver will introduce Hillesum, a young Dutch woman who left an intimate first-hand account in diaries and letters of a blessedly-lived life in the midst of the violence of the holocaust.
Etty’s last written words were on a postcard found by farmers along the railroad line from Holland to Poland. It had been thrown from the windows of the train carrying Dutch Jews to the gas chambers of Auschwitz. It was remarkable the card was noticed, more remarkable that it began with Etty writing, “We have left the camp singing.”
Earlier Etty had written, “It is not easy (and no doubt less easy for us Jews than for anyone else) but if we have nothing to offer a desolate post-war world but our bodies saved at any cost, it will not be enough. New thinking will have to radiate outward from the camps themselves, new insights, spreading lucidly, will have to cross the barbed wire enclosing us and join with visions people outside will have to work for just as boldly in their own time of difficulty. And perhaps, on the common basis of an honest search for some way to understand these dark events, wrecked lives may yet take a step forward.”
In this lecture Oliver will share the experience of the holocaust with this warm and perceptive young woman. Etty’s words teach that joy and love can flourish even in the presence of heartless cruelty and unspeakable crimes of mass-murder.
Oliver will also bring forward important “new thinking” (in Etty’s words) in understanding and moving away from the war and genocide encoded in our genetic and cultural legacy that afflicts humanity even today in conflicts from Africa and the Middle East to the Orient.
The lecture is free and open to the public.