For Jews living beyond Nazi-occupied Europe, the Holocaust often created a sense of impotence, especially as they generally did not wish to criticise the Allied governments who represented the only hope of ending the Holocaust by defeating Germany. However, some took action by enlisting in the armed forces. Hannah Szenes was a Hungarian-born paratrooper from British Mandate Palestine who was dropped into Yugoslavia in an attempt to help the Jews of Hungary. However, she was arrested when she tried to enter Hungary. Hannah was a talented poet; this verse was later found in her prison cell.

One – two – three... eight feet long,
Two paces across –
Life hovers over me in question.

One – two – three... maybe another week.
Or the next month may still find me here.
But oblivion hangs over my head.

I shall be twenty-three this July...
In a daring game of numbers I gambled,
The dice rolled.
I lost.

As a Hungarian citizen, Hannah was tried for treason; she was executed in November 1944.

Photo: Hannah Szenes; Yad Vashem

Poem: Hannah Szenes, Napló – Levelek – Versek – Szépirodalmi kísérletek – rövidebb írások, ed. Anna Szalai (Szépirodalmi Könyvkiadó, 1991)