The Jerusalem Post
Jump at the opportunity
It is fitting that “IDF paratroopers head to Europe to jump for Hannah Szenes’s 100th birthday” (July 5).
Szenes was born into a wealthy Jewish family in Hungary and enjoyed a fairly idyllic childhood there. Early on, however, she became aware of antisemitism in her school and was quick to speak up about it. It was no surprise that in her late teens, she rushed to make aliyah to Israel (then called Palestine) and happily joined a succession of kibbutzim, learning the rudiments of agriculture. She did not miss her former luxuries, and the only recorded thing she requested of her mother was a pair of waterproof boots for her farm work.
She expressed her joy in the land through her poetry, and her poem “Eli, Eli” became an iconic Israel song.
With the outbreak of WWII, she volunteered to fight with the British army, and was sent on her fateful mission. Parachuting with three others into Europe, she was soon captured, and being the one holding the radio equipment, she was brought to Hungary and tried as a spy. She refused to divulge any information to her interrogators, and one morning, while negotiations were going on for her release, and her mother was on the way to the prison, she was secretly taken out to the courtyard and executed. She was 23 years old.
Her devotion to her people and to the land of Israel, and her selfless courage, make her indeed an appropriate subject of honor by the Israeli Defense Forces. MARION REISS