Sixty-four years ago, on March 26, 1950, the coffin of Jewish Agency emissary and paratrooper Hannah Senesh was returned to Israel. Captured and killed by Hungarian fascists on November 7, 1944, Hannah Senesh was an official shlicha, an emissary, of The Agency, and since then has become an intrinsic part of Israeli history, as a poet and Zionist hero.
The telegram announcing her death arrived at The Jewish Agency building from her British commander. Senesh was serving in the British army
On October 21, 1945, the British Lieutenant Colonel then stationed in Cairo wrote to the security director of The Jewish Agency in Jerusalem:
The news we have gathered from various sources show that it seems there is no hope that Miss Hannah Senesh is still alive. The tragic circumstances of her death are already known to you. Miss Hannah Senesh was killed as she was serving her duty in very significant work. Please accept my expression of my deepest sorrow, of the General Headquarters here, on the tragic loss of this courageous woman. All of us, here and in Bari, knew Hannah and we will remember her always as a dedicated and diligent worker, determined to do her work with talent and speed. Please pass on to her family in the Land of Israel, in my name and in the name of my officer and officers of the First Command, our deepest sympathy and regret.
Hannah Senesh had made Aliyah to the Land of Israel from Hungary in 1939. In 1943, through The Jewish Agency, she enlisted in the Women's Auxiliary Air Force as an Aircraftwoman 2nd Class and began her training in Egypt as a paratrooper for the British Special Operations Executive (SOE); in 1944, she was parachuted into Nazi-occupied Yugoslavia and joined a local partisan group. When trying to cross the Hungarian border, she was captured, tortured and killed by Hungarian fascist gendarmes.
Her remains were returned to Israel on March 26, 1950, when her memory was given a final salute in the plaza in front of The Jewish Agency in Jerusalem before burial on Mount Herzl.