Auschwitz Challenge

STAGE 3 - AMSTERDAM - The suffering of a people

Dear pilgrim,

What was Deventer like yesterday? Beautiful city and landscapes! But the journey goes on and now it is your turn to do the same as Etty when it was time for her to begin her university studies: she went to the capital of the Netherlands. Etty abandoned her family home and started to live in Amsterdam with greater autonomy, with her entrenched values.

We do not know a lot about her university years. She approached the Socialist Youth, but soon left it. Furthermore, she got her degree in Law and started to study Slavic languages. As a matter of fact, she earned a living teaching private Russian lessons and being the housekeeper of the house where she was living in, whose owner was the widower Han Wegerif. During the COVID19 pandemic people succeeded in convincing the City Council to protect this house, situated in Gabriel Metsu street, from demolition and to declare it a city monument. That’s why I will take you to see it on the taxi-Challenge.

But something changed in May 1940: the monarchy of the Netherlands fleed to England and the German troops occupied the Netherlands without putting up much resistance. Laws limiting the movements of Jews were being passed gradually, and they affected the Dutch girl, who could not continue studying at university, nor frequenting her usual public places.

Etty was not aware of what was coming to the Jewish people, as it happened with the majority of Europeans. In fact, until the war hadn’t ended, public opinion could not know for sure the meaning of a systematic extermination of a people. Evil had taken on a new scope.

In the Vatican, Pope Pius XII, who has unfairly been accused of an ambiguous and silent position, pulled every possible string to stop German forces to achieve their ghoulish objectives.  As a matter of fact, he opened enclosed convents in the Vatican to take in Jewish population and many churches in German territory were considered as Vatican ground to protect the people. Jewish authorities would recognize his help. Pius XII grew up among offices and diplomacy, and he also knew Germany well. He was, for sure, a good qualified Pope to face a hideous situation.

Dear pilgrim, today is a very intense day, so… EUNTES!



Enjoy the city where Etty wrote her diaries and which was witness to a great part of her personal itinerary.



Two youngsters from the diocese’s Youth Ministry delegation help us to understand a bit better the war conflict that defines Etty’s and her contemporaries’ writings.



Anderson, a Philosophy doctoral student at Javerian University in Bogota, who studies the relationship between Etty Hillesum and Saint Augustine, is a member of the Etty Hillesum Foundation. He will help us to understand the peculiar way this young Dutch understood and faced suffering.



Standard Modality doesn’t take steps 3 and 4.



Fernando Arriero, director of the Spanish delegation of Etty Hillesum Foundation, helps us in our understanding of who was Pius XII and which qualities of his we could imitate in these times of social crisis.

06. Your concentration camp

Search on the internet someone famous who is giving their time or their resources to try to stop the scourge of “your concentration camp”.

 07. Auschwitz Challenge´s Great Enigma

In every route we will offer you some clues for you to solve who the mysterious person in the Auschwitz Challenge is, at the end of this itinerary.

Today’s clue is: He/She helped Steven Spielberg to make a movie

Purchase your bus ticket

To continue, your personal chauffeur needs to know if you have made the most of today’s experiences. Here you are a short questionnaire that will let you purchase your ticket to another location in Amsterdam.


Extra Material

DOCUMENTAL: Pius XII: a nazi Pope?



A reading from Etty Hillesum’s diary