At the age of twenty-three, Hannah Szenes, along with 36 other Jews of Mandate Palestine, parachuted into Nazi-controlled Yugoslavia from British planes in a last-ditch effort to save their fellow Jews from the death camps. The Germans captured Szenes, tortured her, and then executed her. Thereafter, one of her comrades in arms discovered some of her unpublished poetry in her home at Kibbutz Sdot Yam, cementing her reputation as both poet and heroine. Now her other papers, long preserved by her family members, have made their way to the National Library of Israel. JNS reports:
The Hannah Szenes Archival Collection includes handwritten poems; diaries; a newspaper she edited when she was just six years old; extensive correspondence; photos and personal documents from throughout her life; study materials; the minutes of her trial; letters and documents related to the Kasztner affair, [a highly controversial Fustian bargain made with the Nazis to save a small portion of Hungarian Jewry]; family documents going back to the 19th century, including materials from her father, the writer Bela Szenes; as well as personal items such as the suitcase she took when she moved to the Land of Israel, her personal typewriter, camera, and more.
Perhaps the two most moving items in the collection are a pair of notes found in her dress following her execution: the last poem she ever wrote and a personal letter to her mother.