• Meyer Grunberg

Hannah Szenes Executed by Nazis, 1944

Updated: Dec 4, 2020

On This Day in Jewish History: November 7, 1944

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#onthisday, 1944, captured paratrooper and poet, Hannah Szenes (Senesh), sits in a Hungarian prison awaiting her fate at the hands of her Nazi captors after being imprisoned and tortured in an attempt to save Hungarian Jews from the Nazi onslaught.

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By this time the next day, Szenes would be executed by a firing squad - refusing the blindfold and staring her executors in the face.

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Hannah Szenes was born in Budapest, Hungary in 1921 to an assimilated Jewish family. Daughter of an author and a journalist, Szenes took on writing herself, keeping a diary from the age of 13 and writing many poems that were later found after her death.

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A sharp increase of antisemitic sentiment in Budapest drove her to become involved with the local Zionist chapter and by 1939, was on her way to British-occupied Palestine.

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Hannah settled at Kibbutz Sdot Yam near Hadera where she continued to write poetry and even a play.

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WWII quickly broke after her arrival and Szenes volunteered for the British Army parachuting unit and the Haganah. In coordination with the Yishuv and the Haganah, Szenes trained in Egypt and was one of the 33 people chosen to be dropped into Europe to save Hungarian Jews.

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By 1944, Hungary's Jews had been "safe" from the Nazi clutches, but with the German invasion of Hungary -all of that was about to change for the worst - by early 1945, 500,000 Hungarian Jews would be rushed and murdered in extermination camps.

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Szenes dropped into the Balkan region in March of 1944 and upon crossing the Hungarian border, was caught by Hungarian police.

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When they found a British radio device, she was questioned and tortured extensively over the course of 8 months. Even though they threatened her mother, Szenes never revealed any information other than her name.

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Ultimately, she was tried and sentenced for treason. On November 7, 1944 Hannah Szenes was executed at the young age of 23.

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In 1950, Szenes' remains were brought to Israel and she was re-buried at Mt. Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem. #onthisday we remember Szenes' life in blessing.

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✍: @jewishistoryguy

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#judaism#jewish#jewishhistory#hannahszenes#paratrooper#heroine#otdjh#otd#hungary

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Text Source:

https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/szenes-hannah

Image Source:

https://jwa.org/thisweek/sep/02/2012/long-lost-poem-by-war-heroine-hannah-szenes-is-found

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