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.
  • Blessed is the match, consumed in kindling flame.

    Blessed is the flame that burns in the heart's secret places.

    Blessed is the heart that knows, for honors sake, to stop its beating.

    Blessed is the match, consumed in kindling flame.

  • One – two – three… eight feet long

    Two strides across, the rest is dark…

    Life is a fleeting question mark

    One – two – three… maybe another week.

    Or the next month may still find me here,

    But death, I feel is very near.

    I could have been 23 next July

    I gambled on what mattered most, the dice were cast. I lost.

  • Dear mother, I don’t know what to tell you. I will only say this: A thousand thanks and more, and forgive me, if you can. After all, you will understand, better than anyone else, that words are not necessary now. With great love, your daughter.
  • There are stars whose radiance is visible on Earth though they have long been extinct. There are people whose brilliance continues to light the world even though they are no longer among the living. These lights are particularly bright when the night is dark. They light the way for humankind.
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