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Hannah Szenes

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Hannah Szenes (1921-1944) was a Hungarian Jewish woman who became a partisan.

Hannah Senesh was born to an assimilated Jewish family in Hungary. Her father Bela Szenes, a journalist and playwright, died when she was six years old. She continued to live with her mother Katherine Szenes and a brother.

Szenes entered a private protestant girl’s school open – with increased tuition – to Catholics and Jews. However, when she was elected to the school’s literary society, she could not take the office in the anti-Semitic atmosphere. She joined Maccabea, a Hungarian Zionist student organization.

Szenes graduated 1939 and decided to move to study in the Girls' Agricultural School at Nahalal[?] in Palestine. In 1941 she joined a kibbutz called Sedot Yam and also joined the Haganah. February 4, 1942 she visited Caesarea. In 1943 she enlisted in the British army. In 1944 she begun a paratrooper training in Egypt.

On March 15 1944 she and her companions were parachuted into Yugoslavia and joined a partisan group. In May 13th, 1944, Hannah and her comrades crossed the Hungarian border in small groups. She was captured before she could begin her mission and was interned in the Horthy Miklos Prison[?] where she was tortured. She did not talk even when the guards threatened to torture her mother as well. The mother was eventually released.

Szenes communicated with other prisoners with large cut-out letters she placed in her window one at the time. She tried to keep their spirits up by singing.

Hannah Senesh was sentenced to death for treason in October 28, 1944 and executed by a firing squad on November 7 1944.


Szenes’s diary was published in Hebrew in 1946. Her remains were brought to Israel in 1950 and buried in the cemetery on Mount Herzl[?], Jerusalem. After the Cold War, Hungarian military court officially exonerated her. Her kin in Isreal were informed November 5 1993.

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