Hannah Senesh: Her Life and Diary, The First Complete Edition is extremely intense. I read this book straight through in one sitting (for the third time), and can’t say enough about it.
From her diary that begins when she was thirteen years old…through just before her execution, to her poems and letters, the book is an extremely compelling read. The book also contains tributes by parachutists and some memoirs written by Hannah’s mother, Catherine Senesh. Catherine was in the same prison as Hannah, at one point in time, and they had fleeting conversations and glances at each other. Hannah, according to her diary, was always aware of how her decisions would affect her mother, and she adored and loved her mother without a doubt, but her (Hannah’s) passion for what she desired and believed in stayed in the forefront.
We watch the years unfold through Hannah’s diary, and see how she has matured…from young teen, to a mature young women with definite ideals, opinions and pride in being a Jew. Her writings show a young woman torn between choices, sometimes questioning her choice, but always coming to the conclusion that she had made the correct one, for herself. Although, in her diary, she often stated that she did not like the synagogue atmosphere, the required prayers, she did believe in God, and Jewish life was what encompassed her dreams and goals and was what kept her passionate throughout her short life. She lived for Israel, for the Zionist movement. Israel and the Zionist goal was her ultimate dream, and she was determined to move there.
When Hannah made “Aliyah”, moved to Israel, she was young and hopeful, filled with strength, ideals and dreams, and when she died, she was still young and hopeful, full of strength, ideals and dreams, some realized, but most of them not realized. Hannah was strong willed, courageous and true to her emotional and mental fortitude until the end very end, until the last minute. Even her captors could not believe the courage she exhibited throughout her capture and up until she perished. She was executed without a blindfold, by choice so her executioners could see her eyes, and she looked up towards the skies, and died a hero. Her life is immortalized within Israel.
Hannah joined the military, trained and took parachute lessons as part of her training. She volunteered for a rescue mission to Europe during World War II in order to help rescue Jews, and was eventually captured, tortured and executed in Budapest by a firing squad.
Poignant, beautifully written, Hannah’s life is a testament to her faith, ideals, strength, fortitude and determination to live life as she wanted to.
It is difficult to articulate how Hannah Senesh: Her Life and Diary, the First Complete Edition affected me, as I am still filled with the emotions swirling within my mind and my heart from the powerful memoir. That one so young, so well-defined with her journal and poetry, could live such a short life, yet impact so many throughout the years since, is a testament to her very essence.
Hannah Senesh’s life was not in vain, as she continues to teach others, each day, even in death. Her spirit lives on to inspire many, Jews and non Jews, alike.
As an aside: The Jewish High Holy Days are near. Each year I read a few books, mainly biographies and non-fiction, relating to Judaism, Jewish individuals, the Holocaust, and/or Jewish Life. Some I read anew, and some I read again. It is my way of remembering Jewish history and all of the individuals who contributed to the welfare of the Jews.