ETTY HILLESUM, a Dutch Jew, went voluntarily and died in a Nazi concentration camp because she felt "a camp needs a poet, one who experiences life there, even there, as a bard and is able to sing about it." The following is her diary entry as she watches the Nazi net tighten around the Jews.
June 27, 1942: The latest news is that all Jews will be transported out of Holland through Drenthe Province and then on to Poland....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!... And yet I find life beautiful and meaningful. From minute to minute...
Sun on the balcony and a light breeze through the jasmine...I shall linger another ten minutes with the jasmine, and then...to see the friend...who can still suddenly present me with an aspect so new that I catch my breath with surprise. How exotic the jasmine looks, so delicate and dazzling against the mud-brown walls. I can't take in how beautiful this jasmine is. But there is no need to. It is enough simply to believe in miracles in the twentieth century. And I do, even though the lice will be eating me up in Poland before long.
Sam Keene, from Fire in the Belly