Hanna Szenes (1921-1944), poet, farmer, soldier. She emigrated as a youth to Palestine to escape rising Fascism in Europe and eventually joined the British Army there. She was parachuted into partisan-held territory in Croatia, from where she trekked to her native Hungary with a mission to rescue downed Allied aircrews and assist the Zionist resistance to the mass murder of Jews. She was betrayed, imprisoned, tortured and murdered. She is revered as a war hero; and her songs, mostly about love, faith and nature, are sung the world over.


A spark burns out when she ignites a flame.
She is fulfilled in a flame igniting a blaze.
I would give all for a blaze to light up the hearts,
to light up the world, to raise a hope for life.


My cell: just seven steps by two. I can even tell
how long my life will last. Two days at the least.
I won’t be 23 in July. I knew the risks.
The stakes were high. I played for life. I lost.

Hanna Szenes

Translated from the Hungarian and Edited by

Thomas Land

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