Hannah Szenes

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Hannah Szenes circa 1944

Hannah Szenes (often anglicized as Hannah Senesh or Chana Senesh; Hebrew: חנה סנש‎; Hungarian: Szenes Anikó; July 17, 1921 – November 7, 1944) was a poet and Special Operations Executive (SOE) paratrooper. She was one of 37 Jewish parachutists of Mandate Palestine parachuted by the British Army into Yugoslavia during the Second World War to assist in the rescue of Hungarian Jews about to be deported to the German death camp at Auschwitz. Szenes was arrested at the Hungarian border, then imprisoned and tortured, but refused to reveal details of her mission. She was eventually tried and executed by firing squad. She is regarded as a national heroine in Israel, where her poetry is widely known and the headquarters of the Zionist youth movements Israel Hatzeira, a kibbutz and several streets are named after her.


  • Early Saturday morning I climbed the hills facing Kfar Gil'adi. Wonderful scenery. And in the brilliance of the beautiful morning I understood why Moses received the Torah on a mountain top. Only in the mountains is it possible to receive orders from above, when one sees how small is man yet feels secure in the nearness of God. From there one's horizons broaden in every respect, and the order of things becomes more understandable. In the mountains one can believe - and must believe. In the mountains one involuntarily hears the query: "Whom shall I send?" And the answer, "Send me to serve the beautiful and good!" Will I succeed? Will I be able to fulfil God's command?
    • SENESH, Hannah, DAFNE, Reuven; PALGI, Yoel; SENESH, Catherine. Hannah Senesh: Her Life and Diary. London : Sphere, 1973. p. 92.

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