Auschwitz Challenge

0 - rotterdam - A way to Hope 

Dear pilgrim,


I’m your driver. The Challenge organization has just asked me to pick you up at home to take you to the nearest airport. I’ll carry the bags, but I’m sure you won’t need anything inside them. In addition, it may be possible that they return loaded with experiences now unsuspected that, perhaps, at the return of the pilgrimage, will serve you to live your everyday life with greater hope and meaning.


But he has also told me “Challenge La Rioja” not to reveal anything of this exciting pilgrimage that you now begin together with hundreds of other pilgrims from around the world. Now I only have to give you this plane ticket to Rotterdam (Netherlands).


But since you seems to be a nice fellow I shall tell you something else. Please, do not tell Fernando, (he scolds me because I chat a lot like a mouthful, you know). Look, once you arrive in Rotterdam, a tour will begin through the most significant places in the life of Etty Hillesum, the other protagonist of this adventure and with whom you will surely get along wonderfully. Hand in hand with Etty and other contemporaries of her we will travel 1,300 km of hope in the midst of the greatest humanitarian and social crisis of the 20th century: the Second World War. At that critical moment in history, when we suspect that the human being has shown the worst version of his essence, personalities emerge that remind us that love, truth, goodness, beauty, unity ... will always win.


May this pilgrimage help us to strengthen our lives in the great values that the Judeo-Christian tradition and other spiritual traditions carry as their banner. And not only because they appear in their Holy Scriptures, but because they have been lived heroically by many of their faithful. On this path, in fact, we will not only meet Etty Hillesum, but we will also welcome the wisdom of lives as impressive as those of Edith Stein, Pius XII, Simone Weil, Maximiliano Kolbe, Viktor Frankl ... And this pilgrimage is intended to be a song to hope and personal and social responsibility in a time of health and social crisis.


So, dear pilgrim…


EUNTES! (“Go” in Latin), which is how in the Diócesis de Calahorra y La Calzada-Logroño we have baptized the Diocesan Mission, inviting us to go out and announce the good news of a God who loves us.





Enjoy this city that is for us the beginning of our pilgrimage. 


A history pill with Unai and Uxía

Two young people from the diocese’s Youth Ministry delegation help us to understand a bit better the war conflict that frames the writings of Etty and other contemporaries.


Growing up with Etty

Fernando Arriero, coordinator of the Challenge pilgrimages of the Diocese of Calahorra y La Calzada-Logroño, offers us a reflection to become aware of where we are. Knowing where we are helps to take firm steps in the desired direction. Etty had to make truth in her own life, verbalize through writing where she was, assume that she needed help and put means to get her out of dynamics that took away her energy, hope... life.


Prayerful Proposal

Whether you have enrolled in the "Moderate/Standard" or "Motivated/Extreme" Modality, today the prayerful proposal is the same. It would be about seeing how I am right now in my life.


The character of the day: Ángel Sanz Briz

Mamen Rivas, graduate in Religious Sciences and kindergartenteacher, proposes to us the testimony of Angel Sanz Briz, who happened to the history with the nickname of “The angel of Budapest”, by the number of Jews he saved from his position as a diplomatic.

06. Your concentration camp.

Etty Hillesum was in the Westerbork Transit Camp intermittently from 15 July 1942 until 7 September 1943, when she was deported with her parents and her brother Mischa to the Auschwitz Extermination Camp. She was murdered there on 30 November of that same year.

The last years of her life, however, were the best years on a personal and existential level.  She confessed it in her diaries and, in large part, it is because she discovered the joy of giving herself up and serving until the last moment.

Therefore, we ask you to choose your own “concentration camp”, that is, that social reality (which can also be personal) that hurts you in a very special way. Throughout this pilgrimage we will propose that you dedicate some time to look into its eyes, to inform you, to pray for it, to collaborate for the healing of that lack. Some examples: hunger, elderly people in unwanted solitude, Covid-19, drug addiction, trafficking in women, migratory mafias, political corruption, abortion in adolescents, gender violence…


At each stage we will offer you some clues, so that at the end of the itinerary you can solve who is the mysterious character of this Auschwitz Challenge.




To move on to the next stage your personal driver needs to know if you have taken advantage of the experience today. Therefore, here is a short questionnaire to get your ticket to the next destination.


Extra material for HIGHLY MOTIVATED

Recipe of the day: HUTSPOT


1 beef sirloin (or pork or ox) in one piece

 75 g butter

1 kg potatoes

800 g carrots

1 onion

200 g bacon with pepper salt

1 glass of white wine

1/2 glass of water


Step 1 In a pan, heat the butter. Season the meat to taste and brown in the butter on both sides. When golden brown, add the white wine and water and simmer for 1.5 hours.

STEP 2 Apart they are put to cook the potatoes, carrots and onion peeled and in pieces for 20 minutes. When cooked, remove almost completely the water and crush making a homogeneous puree, adding a splash of milk to soften if necessary. The bacon is fried in a skillet without oil and added to the puree, mixing everything well.

STEP 3 Remove the meat from the casserole and the juice is diluted with a few tablespoons of water and stir and heat until you get a sauce o, what the Dutch call "jus".

STEP 4 Puree served with meat



“La vida es bella a pesar de todo. Claves de la espiritualidad de Etty Hillesum” (Fernando Arriero Perantón. Ed. Fonte, Burgos 2019).

Song: “Nothing can trouble”:  

Good news: How Spanish 'Angel of Budapest' Sanz Briz saved Jews?


Introductory words of the book "The angel of budapest" written by julio martín alarcón: