Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Hannah Szenes (Senesh) was born to an assimilated Jewish family in Hungary. Her father, Béla 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 for the British SOE.
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 Szenes went on trial for treason on October 28, 1944. There was an 8 day postponment to give the judges more time to find a verdict, followed by another postponment, this one due to the appointment of a new Judge Advocate. Hannah was executed by a firing squad before the judges had even found her guilty. She kept diary entries up until her last day, November 7, 1944. Her remains were brought to Israel in 1950 and buried in the cemetery on Mount Herzl, Jerusalem.
Szenes' diary was published in Hebrew in 1946.
After the Cold War, a Hungarian military court officially exonerated her. Her kin in Israel were informed November 5, 1993.
Hanna Shenesh was a talented poetess writing both on Hungarian and Hebrew. Following are 4 of the best known poems or songs written by Hannah.
The best known of her songs is Eili, Eili ("My God, My God") many singers sang it and this song ends the film Schindler's List:
- My God, that it won't end ever*,
- Sand and sea,
- Water swishing,
- Sky's lightening,
- Man's prayer.
- (*) never, forever or for eternity
- The voice called, and I went.
- I went, because the voice called.
The following lines are the last song she wrote after she was parachuted into a Partisan camp in Yugoslavia:
- Happy is the burnt match kinding the blazes.
- Happy is the blaze that burnt inside the hearts.
- Happy are the hearts that knew when to stop (in dignity).
- Happy is the burnt match kindling the blazes.
The following lines were found in Hanna's death cell after her execution, (translated from the Hebrew version by Avigdor Hamieri), in another translation it's Spring instead of July:
- One - two - three... eight long
- Two steps wide
- Life is a fleeting question mark
- One - two - three... maybe another week.
- Or at the new moon I'll be
- But above my head - emptiness
- Now in July 23 years I'll be,
- In the dare game I stood on a number,
- the dice capered*,
- I lost.
- (*) (maybe danced, skipped or diddled?)
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