The National Library of Israel has recently revealed the last letter of the legendary Hungarian poetess and heroic paratrooper, Hanna Szenes, to her family. This letter was disclosed as a part of the commemoration ceremony ofthe Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Hanna Szenes was born in Budapest in 1921. Her father was a famous Hungarian playwright and journalist, Béla Szenes; unfortunately, he died when Hanna was only six years old. She lived with her mother, Catherine, and her brother, György. From the very young age this talented young girl felt a very strong passion for poetry. Szenes’ poems became famous for its beautiful language (both in Hungarian and Hebrew); readers always found her literary works to be touching and courageous.
Apart from her literary success, Hanna Szenes is mostly known for her self-sacrifice and commitment. She was among the 33 paratroopers, who were trained by the British Army in Egyptin order to parachute into Yugoslavia, get to Budapest and help save the Jews, who were about to be deported to the German death camp at Auschwitz.
On June 7, 1944 Hanna Szenes has crossed the Hungarian boarder. Szenes was determined to help people of the occupied Hungary – she was absolutely fearless. However, almost immediately the Hungarian police have arrested Szenes and her companions, as they have found her military transmitter. From that day Hana Szenes was repeatedly interrogated and cruelly tortured in order for her to reveal the details of her mission and codes for the transmitter. Szenes refused to cooperate even after police arrested her mother and threatened to kill both of them. After almost 6 months of the most brutal tortures, Hanna Szenes was charged with espionage and was executed on the 7th of November 1944 by the firing squad. “She refused the blindfold, staring squarely at her executors and her fate. Szenes was only 23 years old.”
The last letter of the national heroine to her brother György:
“My dear György,” Szenes wrote, “I send you again a short letter to make you know that I am quite OK and that’s all. I guess all my acquaintances and relations are cross with me, that I never write. Please try to explain the situation, if possible. To mother I do not write now either and your letters must replace mine. For this reason I give you the right even to forge my signature; I hope you know that I get your letters with great delay but sooner or later they reach me and I am always ever so glad to hear about you. I love you and kisses to you and warm greetings to friends. Yours, Hannah.”
Hanna Szenes was a true hero. The curator of the National Library of Israel said about her: ” She was one for the Jewish community’s greatest symbols. When you read her letters you understand her personality, where the poems came from and why she became a role model. She was an inspiration and her struggles are a link between the Holocaust and resurrection, between the fight against the Germans and the fight for Israel’s inception.”