Auschwitz Challenge

STAGE 6 - westerbork - Writing: a way of retelling our life, a way of being

Dear Pilgrim,

Today we are getting to a very special place for those who are already acquainted with Etty: Westerbork Transit/Concentration Camp. This is where Etty arrived in July, 1942 and from where she would leave for Auschwitz on the night of September 6/7, 1943.

It was at this place where Etty plunged into maturity in every aspect: offering herself to others, meeting God, getting in contact with all its dimensions.... Sometimes we tend to look for peace and quiet to devote ourselves to a time for spiritual growth. Etty’s example shows us that probably all lies in the rush that we feel in order to live consciously, with determination and to the full. For this it is not necessary to attend a spiritual retreat, though this may be of great help but, most of all, we have to feel vulnerable and at the same time be aware that living our daily routine deeply it is possible at that very moment to turn into light amidst the darkness in our lives.

Westerbork is also the setting in which Etty Hillesum and Edith Stein (St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross) met. In her diary Etty briefly refers to Edith and her sister: ........

As it is not an easy task to get to Westerbork by public transport, the Challenge Organisation has asked  me to take you there in my taxi. You will not see much of the horror experienced there. Even the railtrack and the watchtower are part of a beautiful natural setting. It is not our aim to try to recreate the pain and suffering inflicted there. This is sacred land already due to so many tears and bloodshed, prayers and lamentations raised to heaven and due to the great human values shown within threats, injustice and evil.

Every Tuesday a thousand people left for Auschwitz and Etty had to help them get on the train. Etty distributed the food supplies she received, helped to write letters or telegrams to prisoners, listened for long hours to those in despair, served in the barracks as nursing staff, longed for organizing a library in the camp....

Etty decided to live from her love for the small things she could do. And so can we. In fact, I have installed an air freshener with a mild fragrance in my taxi for anyone to smell it and feel relaxed. How can I behave  so that the person approaching me will feel better afterwards?

Please get ready because in no time we will be arriving at Westerbork Transit Camp.

Courage! Euntes!




A transit camp



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.



Rosana, President of Etty Hillesum Fundation, speaks to us about the importance of writing to Etty Hillesum. Moreover, Marina, who has already written several books on her own journeys (Calcuta, Santiago...) will tell us what Writing meant for Etty. She is in charge of the Camino de Santiago’s Pilgrim Hostel in Grañon (La Rioja) and has set up a place at the hostel for all those who wish to write about their experience as a pilgrim. Marina



Today’s prayer is in writing. It might be possible that you find it uncomfortable and you do not feel like writing. Great! This is what happened to Etty and see what she left as her legacy.



Maria Jesus Tabar, mother and teacher at the Jesuit School in Tudela and with a strong academic record in Interiority prepared her Theology dissertation based on Etty Hillesum’s life. She will introduce us to another great woman who shared some time with Etty Hillesum at Westerbork: Edith Stein. She was a Discalced Carmelite nun of Jewish origin who looking for a meaning in life when studying Philosophy finally found it in Jesus of Nazareth’s proposal when reading Teresa of Avila ‘s biography. Like Etty she was killed in Auschwitz fifteen months before her. At present she is known as Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

06. Your concentration camp

As you have prayed in writing why don’t you devote some minutes to writing what moves you inside when you think about “your concentration camp”?

 07. Great enigma of Auschwitz Challenge

In each one of the stages we will offer clues so that at the end of the itinerary you can discover who the mysterious character is.

Today’s Clue: our mysterious character met the film’s protagonist firsthand.


To pass on to the next stage your personal chauffer wants to know if you have profited from what you learnt today. Here is a short quizz to get your ticket to continue the visit to Westerbork





4 persons

● egg yolks 2

● clarified butter 250 g

● salt/ pepper to taste

● lemon juice 3 teaspoonfuls

● cold water 1 tablespoonful

● white wine 2 tablespoonfuls

How to make Dutch Sauce

Difficulty Degree: medium

Total Time:  30 minutes

Preparation: 30 minutes

First we have to obtain the clarified butter so we heat 300 g butter over a low fire. Check that the temperature does not reach more than 60°C. Do not stir, wait for 20 minutes and the fat from the butter will separate from the serum which looks like water. The fat will float over the serum. We will later use the fat to prepare the sauce. With 300 g of butter approximately 250 g of clarified butter are obtained.

Then we have to let water and wine to reduce, for this we heat both. To make the sauce use the 2 egg yolks, put them in a bowl with the reduced water / wine once it is cold and 1 teaspoonful of lemon juice. Beat egg yolks in the bowl  using water-bath and keeping it at 55°C until  you get a foamy cream whisking the preparation and only till the yolks double their volume.

Tip: whisk gently and constantly.

Little by little add the clarified butter which has to be at room temperature and whisking constantly.

Once the sauce is obtained, add salt and pepper if you want together with the 2 spoonfuls of lemon juice. Mix gently all the ingredients so they do not separate.

The foamy structure of the sauce makes it lighter than mayonnaise. Once obtained, keep in water-bath because it may curdle. It has to be prepared to be consumed immediately, it does not allow reheating.