IDF paratroopers recreate WWII jump in honor of poet-soldier Hannah Senesh

Some 100 Israeli soldiers participated in a parachute jump in Central Europe as part of a weeklong educational trip in honor of the 100th birthday of Hungarian-born soldier and poet Hannah Senesh, who was captured and killed by the Nazis after she parachuted into Hungary during World War II.

The IDF-organized jump in Slovenia was staged a short distance from the original site. A number of soldiers from the Hungarian, Slovenian, Croatian and British militaries also took part in the jump.

The Hungarian-born Senesh immigrated to Mandatory Palestine in 1939 and quickly joined the Haganah, the forebear of the IDF. During World War II, she joined a Jewish contingent of the British military and parachuted into then-Yugoslavia, continuing on foot to Hungary to meet up with partisans there.

She was captured at the border, interrogated and sentenced to death. Her remains were later moved to Israel and reinterred in the Mount Herzl National Cemetery. Her diary and poetry are still read in Israel today, most famously the poem “Eli, Eli,” or “My God, my God.”

The Israeli participants included current and former Paratroopers Brigade soldiers and officers, including a number of children and grandchildren of Holocaust survivors.

Following the jump on Tuesday, the participants were all awarded a special commemorative pin to mark the occasion, in the shape of wings marked with a cloud and a lightning bolt, a reference to the lyrics of “Eli, Eli.”

Israeli paratroopers recreate the partisans historic jump during World War II in honor of Hannah Senesh, in Slovenia, on July 20, 2021. (Israel Defense Forces)

The delegation, dubbed “Crash of the Heavens,” named after the poem, was led by the head of the IDF’s Depth Corps, Major General Itay Virov; Paratroopers Brigade commander Colonel Yuval Gaz and a number of other senior Paratroopers officers.

On Wednesday, the delegation will travel to Croatia, where they will inaugurate a memorial to Senesh in the city of Čakovec, where she was imprisoned.

On Thursday, the soldiers will spend time in Hungary, meeting with members of the local Jewish community before holding a ceremony at the grave of Senesh in Kozma, Hungary — where she was first buried, before her remains were transferred to Israel.

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