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Hannah Senesh


Although the Senesh family was assimilated, anti-Semitic sentiment in Budapest led her to involvement in Zionist activities. Hannah Senesh left Hungary for the Land of Israel in 1939.

She started to write her diary at the age of 13 and continued to write it until shortly before her death. On Kibbutz Sdot Yam, Senesh wrote poetry and creaed a play about kibbutz life.

In 1943 Senesh joined the British Army and volunteered to be parachuted into Europe. The purpose of this operation was to help the Allied efforts in Europe and establish contact with partisan resistance fighters in an attempt to aid beleaguered Jewish communities.

Senesh trained in Egypt and was one of the thirty-three chosen to parachute behind enemy lines. With the goal of reaching her native Budapest, Senesh was parachuted in March, 1944 into Yugoslavia, and spent three months with Tito's partisans. At this time, she wrote a poem called "Blessed is the Match" that memorializes her idealism and commitment to her cause.

On June 7, 1944, at the height of the deportation of Hungarian Jews, Senesh crossed the border into Hungary. She was caught almost immediately by the Hungarian police. Although tortured repeatedly and cruelly over the next several months, Senesh refused to reveal information. She did not cooperate even when the police threatened to harm her mother.

At her trial in October 1944, Senesh defended her activities and refused to request clemency. When she was executed by a firing squad on November 7, she chose to stare at her executors rather than be blindfolded.

In 1950, Senesh's remains were brought to Israel and re-interred in the military cemetery on Mount Herzl. Her diary and literary works were later published, and many of her more popular poems, including "Towards Caesarea," "Eli, Eli," and "Blessed is the Match," have been set to music.

Hannah Senesh became a symbol of Israeli heroism and dedication.

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