Hannah Senesh's last letter..
(photo credit: NATIONAL LIBRARY OF ISRAEL)
On May 20th, 1944, somewhere near the Hungarian border, Hannah Senesh sat down to write what would become the last letter she would send to her beloved brother George.
Two months earlier, Senesh had parachuted into the area together with the British army and in just a few short weeks she would be captured by the Hungarian army. Despite severe torture, she refused to give up details of the mission or its members and six months later, Senesh would be executed by a firing squad.
The letter was written in English since all letters were required to go through the British army censor before sent to their intended recipients. Senesh wanted to be sure the letter would be approved without any issues so that it would make it to her brother.
In the letter, Senesh writes that she is "quite 'O-K', and that's all". She asks her brother to write a letter in her name to their mother, permitting him to fake her signature, though not on financial documents. She also asks him to write back and sends kisses and regards to her friends.
In 1950, Senesh’s remains were brought to Israel and laid to rest in Mount Herzl.
The following poem was found in her cell after her execution:
“One - two - three... eight feet long
Two strides across, the rest is dark...
Life is a fleeting question mark
One - two - three... maybe another week.
Or the next month may still find me here,
But death, I feel is very near.
I could have been 23 next July
I gambled on what mattered most, the dice were cast. I lost.”
The letter will be on display at the National Library of Israel in Jerusalem as part of a Holocaust Remembrance Day “Pages of Ash” exhibit which will also feature evidence of the rich cultural life in the Vilna Ghetto as well as handwritten works by Abba Kovner and Abraham Sutskever.
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