These images show how British soldiers have participated in a recreation of a World War II parachute jump along with Israeli troops in honour of Jewish poet-warrior and SOE agent Hannah Szenes who was murdered by the Nazis.
The memorial jump in honour of Szenes – also spelt Senesh – took place in what is now Slovenia and included soldiers from the United Kingdom, as well as from Hungary, Slovenia and Croatia.
Szenes was a female poet and soldier who was born in Hungary and who joined the British spy outfit during WWII, the SOE (Special Operations Executive). She parachuted into Hungary in 1944 before being captured and murdered by the Nazis.
The jump was organised by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and took place just a short distance from where the original job had occurred.
In 1939, Szenes, who was born in Hungary, migrated to Mandatory Palestine where she became part of the Haganah, which was something of a predecessor to the IDF.
In World War II, she was part of a Jewish group in the British military, one of 37 Jews recruited by the SOE. She was parachuted, on 14th March 1944, into what was then Yugoslavia, before she made her way to the Hungarian border on foot to rendezvous with resistance fighters who were trying to save Hungarian Jews who were going to be deported to the Auschwitz concentration camp.
She had been parachuted with two male colleagues, who had decided not to proceed with the mission after finding out that the Nazis had occupied Hungary. But Szenes decided to press on regardless.
Szenes, who was a poet and playwright who wrote in both Hungarian and Hebrew, was then detained at the border. The Nazis tortured her – she did not reveal details of the mission – before murdering her by firing squad.
The participants in this commemorative event were led by the IDF’s Depth Corps, itself headed by Major General Itay Virov and Colonel Yuval Gaz, the commander of the Paratroopers Brigade.
The delegation is set to travel to Croatia today where a memorial to Szenes will be inaugurated in Cakovec, the city where she was held before her death.
And then on Thursday, the troops will be in Hungary where they will talk with local Jews before taking part in a ceremony at Szenes’s first grave in the city of Kozma, in Hungary. This is where she was buried initially before her remains were sent to Israel in 1950.
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