Hannah Senesh: May 14, 1940

Hannah Senesh began keeping a diary when she was a teenager living in Budapest, Hungary. The main theme of her reflections was her intense desire to move to Palestine to join the Jewish community there. Shortly after she turned eighteen, she was able to make the move. She went alone, however, leaving her mother and brother back in Europe.

Hannah settled into her new life and seemed truly content, but she could not forget the dangers she had left behind. Eight months after she arrived in Nahalal, she found herself thinking of the travails of the continent she had left behind. “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. The European war is engulfing vast areas, and fear that it will spread to our land is understandable. The entire world is gripped by tension. Germany grows mightier daily. And with the entire world on the edge of an abyss it is difficult to deal with minor problems, even more to believe that personal problems are of any importance.”

One of the main themes to emerge in Hannah’s writing was her desire to be engaged in important activities. She wanted to be in the middle of the action. The same passion that drove her to be a part of building a homeland for the Jewish people also prevented her from completely turning her back on Europe during the war. Eventually, she decided to she enlisted in the British army in the Woman’s Auxiliary Air Force and became a paratrooper so that she could return to Hungary to help the people of her first home. It was perfectly in keeping with her character, but it was a decision that would cost her life.

To learn more about Hannah Sennesh, please visit the Jewish Virtual Library.

You may learn more about the Holocaust in Hungary here.

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