Hannah Senesh

Hannah Senesh : Nazi Germany

Hannah Senesh was born in Budapest, Hungary, in 1921. Hannah's father died when she was six and she lived with her mother and brother.

In 1939 Senesh emigrated to Palestine where she studied agricultural. When she heard about the Jews in Europe being placed in concentration camps she went to Britain and offered her services in fighting against fascism.

In 1944 she was parachuted into Yugoslavia where her task was to join the partisans. Her main objective was to persuade the partisans to cross the border into Hungary in order to rescue Jews from the extermination camps.

Senesh was captured by the German Army soon after arriving in Yugoslavia. Hannah Senesh was tortured by the Gestapo for several months before being executed in Budapest in November, 1944.

Primary Sources

(1) Hannah Senesh, diary entry (17th September, 1938)

We're living through indescribably tense days. The question is: Will there be war? The mobilization going on in various countries doesn't fill one with a great deal of confidence. No recent news concerning the discussions of Hitler and Chamberlain. The entire world is united in fearful suspense, for one, feel a numbing indifference because of all this waiting. The situation changes from minute to minute. Even the idea there may be war is abominable enough.

From my point of view, I'm glad George is in France, though Mother is extremely worried about him. Of course this is understandable. The devil take the Sudeten Germans and all the other Germans, along with their Fuhrer. One feels better saying these things. Why is it necessary to ruin the world, turn it topsy-turvy, when everything could be so pleasant? Or is that impossible? Is it contrary to the nature of man?

(2) Hannah Senesh, diary entry (14th May, 1940)

I was sitting, studying a notebook on general agriculture, when suddenly I was struck by the realization of how cut off I am from the world. How can I have the patience to study and prepare for an exam while the greatest war in history is raging in Europe? We are witnessing, in general, times which will determine the fate of man.

(3) Hannah Senesh, diary entry (2nd November, 1940)

I dream and plan as if there was nothing happening in the world, as if there was no war, no destruction, as if thousands upon thousands were not being killed daily.

One of my most beautiful plans is to be a poultry farming instructor, to travel from one farm to another, to visit settlements, to advise and to assist, to organize, to introduce record-keeping, to develop this branch of the economy. In the evening I would conduct brief seminars for kibbutz members, teach them important facets of the trade.

(4) Hannah Senesh, diary entry (14th June, 1941)

Greece has fallen, and so has Crete. The war is now raging in Egypt and Syria. The British army marched into Syria three days ago, so the war is now virtually on our doorstep. Hafia was bombed for two nights. We went outside and listened to the bombs exploding, and the firing. Today we heard that Tel Aviv was bombed last night too, leaving many dead and wounded.

(5) Hannah Senesh, diary entry (14th June, 1941)

This week I leave for Egypt. I'm a soldier. Concerning the circumstances of my enlistment, and my feelings in connection with it, and with all that led up to it, I don't want to write. I want to believe that what I've done, and will do, are right. Time will tell the rest.