Auschwitz Challenge

STAGE 8 - DRESDEN - Where is God in this cursed reality?

Dear pilgrim:

The other day you asked me in the taxi how I thought the Jews who were deported felt. The truth is, I have no idea. Each person is a world in itself. But I do believe in many cases there should have been an attempt to reconcile with the past; the hurting and suffering. But maybe I am a  romantic and all they could think of was how to get a piece of bread.

 I can only tell you that the trains going to Auschwitz barely stopped and, of course, the deportees did not have the possibility to get off to rest, go to the bathroom, cool off, warm themselves… They were treated worse than animals. Even so, we wanted to make a stop in Germany, the country through which the last trip of the young Dutch girl took place. It would not be a usual stop for a train leaving Westerbork for Auschwitz… so… why Dresden? Because it was one of the cities most bombarded by the "allies" where dozens of civilians died. Everybody loses in a war. There is blood in the veins of the Germans and the Jews. There is innocence on both sides. So we want to stop in Dresden.

As for Etty's trip to Auschwitz, we hardly know anything about her journey: we know the Jews came out singing; that Etty preferred not to go with her parents in car number 1 because she could not bear to see them suffer, so she went in car 10; that Etty threw a postcard through the crevices of the train and that some good person later stamped and sent it. Here is the postcard.

To Christine van Nooten. Near Glimmen, Tuesday, September 7, 1943.

Christine, I open the Bible at random and find this: "The Lord is my upper chamber." I'm in a crowded freight car, sitting on my backpack. Dad, Mom, and Mischa are a few cars away. The departure was very unexpected. Suddenly a special order for us arrived from The Hague. We left the field singing, Mom and Dad very serene and calm. Mischa too. We will travel three days. Thank you for all your good care. Friends who have stayed will write to Amsterdam, maybe news will reach you. Did you get my last long letter? Goodbye from the four of you.

How is it possible to open a bible in a crowded wagon? How is it possible to write on the last piece of paper a verse from a psalm that says: "The Lord is my upper chamber," that is, my fortress, my refuge? Of course God has become for Etty a continuous reference to understand herself and the reality that surrounds her.

For Martin Niemöller, a Lutheran pastor, her eager heart to follow Christ made her take a stand: it is not possible to be in favor of a system that causes victims.

So, dear pilgrim, let's walk today through Dresden, the city that has been reborn from its ashes, let's learn why Etty speaks of an “uninterrupted dialogue with God” to define her life and let's learn who Pastor Niemöller is. Lots of homework for today, but it will be worth it.





This German city suffered one of the most terrible bombings of the 2nd World War. For this reason, when we see how it is today, it can come to mind that life will continue even after critical moments.



Two youngsters from the diocese and belonging to the Youth Ministry will help us better understand the war conflict that frames Etty’s writings as well as those from her contemporaries.



Today Mariaje introduce us to one of the most interesting aspects of Etty Hillesum's spiritual itinerary. How is it possible that Etty went from an atheistic rationalism to considering her life as an “uninterrupted dialogue with God? Let's stay tuned.



Today, we present you a series of texts from Etty's diaries and letters with the purpose of a prayerful reading. You do not have to read them all! Choose one of them and meditate. You know how much time you have today, so if you want to read two or three or more… great!



Pilar introduces us to another man of God who decided to position himself in the resistance against Hitler. Martin was a Lutheran pastor who, together with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, founded the Confessing Church, a group of Protestant Christians who opposed the “Nazification” of the German church.

06. Your concentration camp

To liberate the concentration camps it is necessary to carry out continuous tasks with certain efforts. For this reason, as a sign of your desire to liberate "your concentration camp", we suggest that you carry out an act that involves "fighting" for you, for example, doing sports, eating healthier, call by phone, that person you haven´t called and you resist to call, read that book you have abandoned, tidy up your desk... the slogan is that it takes you an effort.

 07. HELP US!

This Challenge experience has been developed thanks to the support of the Etty Hillesum Foundation. For this reason, one way of thanking them for their effort and their very educational way of introducing us to this wonderful woman and some of her contemporaries, is to make a financial donation to some of their projects:

  • Socio-educational support to children and families in the El Codito neighborhood (Bogotá-Colombia).

  • Attention to families of people deprived of liberty (Penitentiary Ministry of the diocese of Calahorra and La Calzada-Logroño).

  • Helps patients in a situation of unwanted loneliness at the Valvanera Clinic in Logroño, Spain.

If you want to help both the Etty Hillesum Foundation and the “Challenge La Rioja” Digital Evangelization Project, here is the way to send your donation.


Beneficiary: Diócesis de Calahorra y La Calzada-Logroño

Account number: ES65 2085 5651 3803 3107 2484

Transfer concept: Peregrinación Virtual Etty + name and surname of the pilgrim (If someone does it on your behalf, it should still be on the pilgrim’s name)

If you wish to deduct tax for the donation, add in the subject: NAME AND SURNAME OF THE DONOR + DNI + PROVINCE.


We have enabled a transfer option through the BIZUM platform that facilitates the payment of donations with your mobile. To donate within the application, click on the NGO section and search for either "Diocese of Calahorra and La Calzada-Logroño" or enter the code: 00765 

Do not forget to write in the concept: Etty Virtual Pilgrimage + name and surname of the pilgrim


Beneficiary: Diócesis de Calahorra y La Calzada-Logroño

Account number: ES65 2085 5651 3803 3107 2484

Entity Address: AV.G.V.REY JUAN CARLOS I, 9, 26002, Logroño, La Rioja, España

Entity Phone: +34 941270059

Transfer concept: Etty Virtual Pilgrimage + name and surname of the pilgrim (not of the person making the transfer if they are two different people)

BANK: Ibercaja



Thank you very much in advance.

 08. Great enigma of Auschwitz Challenge

In each of the stages we offer you some clues so that at the end of the itinerary you can solve who is the mysterious character of this Auschwitz Challenge.

Today's track is: The book on the previous track is titled "The Ark of ..."



To move on to the next journey, your personal driver wants to know if you have made good use of what you have experienced today. Therefore, here is a short questionnaire to be able to purchase your ticket to the following place.





  • 275 gr of flour 0000.

  • 60 gr of sugar.

  • 25 gr of fresh yeast.

  • 25 cc of lukewarm milk.

  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom (optional).

  • 1 egg.

  • 120 gr of ointment butter.

  • Lukewarm water (whatever is needed).

  • 90 gr of glazed fruit.

  • 100 gr of dried fruit.

  • 50 gr of raisins.

  • cognac or any other drink of your choice.


  1. Combine the yeast, 1 tablespoon of the total flour, 1 tablespoon of the total sugar and warm milk. Cover and allow to ferment.

  2. Sift the rest of the flour, sugar and cardamom.

  3. Make a crown like form. Place the fermented yeast in the hole.

  4. Incorporate the egg and butter.

  5. Integrate the dough, adding the warm water little by little.

  6. Take the dough and knead, add the rest of the butter.

  7. Once the butter is integrated, add the raisins previously soaked in cognac.

  8. Continue kneading until all the other ingredients are mixed (glazed fruits and dried fruits).

  9. Cover and set aside for 30 minutes to rise (until it is double in size).

  10. After that time, punch down the dough and knead briefly to remove any gas bubbles. Give it an elongated shape.

  11. Cover again and let stand.

  12. Bake for 45 minutes at 170 ° / 180 °.

  13. Remove and spread with melted butter.




  1. Icing: mix the powdered sugar with the cognac. Glaze the stollen while they are still warm and place more fruit on top.

CINEMA PROPOSAL: MERRY CHRISTMAS:ABOUT THE 1st world war (1914), the year etty was born. this war left many harsh conditions that would provoke 30 years later the 2nd world war


READING PROPOSAL:"The list of forgotten names" by Kristin Harmel is located in Paris, but it explains the network of salvation that was created between the Catholic and Jewish Church to get people out of the occupied areas.