Gov't, Kibbutz to Put Up Money to Keep Szenes Archive Here

The Prime Minister's Office and Kibbutz Sdot Yam plan to invest over NIS 4 million in preserving the legacy of World War II paratrooper and poet Hannah Szenes.

Yaron Kaminsky

The money will be used to expand the kibbutz's small museum and enable it to permanently house the Szenes archive.

Earlier this week, Haaretz reported that Szenes' heirs have been searching for an overseas organization to take over the poet's estate, after failing to reach an agreement with any Israeli institution on the matter.

Following that report, Cabinet Secretary Zvi Hauser said, "we are going to make a substantial investment in the Hannah Szenes house, to make it a worthy place to keep the archive. The place must be worthy of the legacy of Hannah Szenes and become a place every student in Israel will visit."

Reuven Pinski, the director of legacy programs at the Prime Minister's Office, said the office would allocate NIS 2 million to the matter, and Kibbutz Sdot Yam has committed to match the sum.

Next week, the cabinet is set to decide on a number of commemorative projects to be jointly developed with the kibbutz movement, to mark the centenary of the first kibbutz, Deganya Aleph. The Hannah Szenes House at Kibbutz Sdot Yam has now been added to the list, to enable it to take up the archive.

This week also saw the opening of an exhibition of Szenes' letters, diary and other manuscripts at the Jewish Heritage Museum in New York.

Haaretz reported the exhibition was in fact the first phase of a plan by Szenes' heirs to move her archive out of country, after keeping it for many years in an apartment in Haifa.

Szenes was one of 37 Jewish paratroopers recruited by the British army and sent on intelligence missions in Europe during World War II, under a joint project with the prestate Jewish community here. She was captured and executed by firing squad in Budapest in 1944, at the age of 23. Six other paratroopers suffered a similar fate.