Join Meir Panim’s campaign to “light up” Chanukah for families in need.
This is the story of two Hungarian Jews and their diametrically opposed responses to the unimaginable horrors of the Holocaust. The reactions and their consequences for Israel and the Jewish people to this day bear examination.
One, Haganah heroine Hannah Szenes (often spelled Senesh) returned from the relative safety of Palestine to parachute into war-torn Europe in a courageous – yet ultimately doomed – bid to save her fellow Jews. Born in Budapest, Szenes became an ardent Zionist and went to Palestine at age 18 in 1939. She joined a kibbutz and the Haganah, becoming a member of the Palmach, its elite strike force.
With the war raging, the British military hatched a plan to drop Haganah fighters with radio transmitters into Yugoslavia to help in the intensifying battle between Tito’s partisans and the Nazis. Szenes willingly entered the dangerous battle, spending several months in Yugoslavia.
But with the Nazis occupying adjacent Hungry and gearing up their deportations of the Jews there, she crossed into her homeland, planning to help her brethren resist.
A short time after crossing the frontier, Szenes was arrested by Hungarian fascist soldiers, thrown into prison and charged with treason. The Nazis, not content to wait for a trial, summarily placed her before a firing squad. She refused a blindfold, bravely facing her executioners at age 23.
In 1950, her body was returned to Israel and she was buried among the heroes of the Jewish people on Har Herzl. A prolific poet, she had left a large body of her writings at her kibbutz and they are known widely in Israel. One, “Eli Eli,” an ode to love, hope and beauty, has been put to music and is now a haunting anthem to Yom HaShoah and the lost of the Holocaust.
The other Hungarian Jew, George Soros, now 80, is a billionaire financial wizard who runs a New York-based hedge fund. He moves international currency markets with his pronouncements and, through a maze of foundations and front groups, bankrolls and backs a slew of radical far-left campaigns intended to, in his words, “puncture the bubble of American supremacy.”
Just like Szenes, he was born to assimilated parents. His father changed the family name of Schwartz to Soros both to avoid anti-Semitism and to try to shed the family’s Jewishness. But faced with the Nazi occupation, his father realized there was no shedding the Nazis’ hatred. He saved his family by splitting them up, providing them with forged papers and false identities as Christians and bribing gentile families to take them in.
The young Soros, then fourteen, posed as the godson of an official of Hungary’s fascist regime – a member of the Agricultural Ministry. The official was assigned to deliver deportation notices to Jews and confiscate Jewish property and the young Soros accompanied him on his rounds.
In interviews and his memoir, Soros acknowledged he understood the gravity of what was occurring. Asked on CBS’s “60 Minutes” if it had psychologically scarred him, he said, “it created no problems at all.”
Of course, we who didn’t live through the nightmare of the Holocaust can’t say how we would react in such circumstances, but Szenes and Soros were both put to the test and their very different reactions are worth examination. Szenes’s selfless bravery has inspired hundreds of young Israelis to join paratroop commando units and fight for the Jewish people. Soros is now a leading Israel basher who calls Zionism “a tribal” behavior that turns Jews into “oppressors” of the Palestinians and creates worldwide anti-Semitism. He also is involved with the J Street lobby, which espouses positions commonly associated with the far fringes of anti-Israel rhetoric.
Both the Szenes and Soros stories are presently very much in the public discourse. Manhattan’s Museum of Jewish Heritage in Battery Park City is running a multimedia exhibit on Szenes through next August. Conservative television and radio commentator Glenn Beck, a staunch Israel supporter, recently explored Soros’s history and political backing of radical causes. As a result, some in the Jewish community have charged Beck with anti-Semitism – a patently ridiculous accusation given his support of Israel during the Second Lebanon War and the Gaza blockade battle.
Sixty-five years after the Shoah and when Israel is encircled with enemies – including “delegitimize, boycott and divest” leftist campaigners in America – Jews should reflect on history and who our heroes and friends really are.
Ed Lion, a writer who lives in the Poconos, was formerly a reporter with United Press International.
About the Author: Ed Lion is a former reporter for United Press International now living in the Poconos.
If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.
Comments are closed.
It is offensive that in commemorating the Holocaust mentioning Israel was deemed inappropriate.
Shepherding in the Shomron isn’t your usual kind of shepherding – despite his business-minded beginnings, Eli has discovered that a strong ideological impetus powers the job.
His entire existence was about spreading simcha and glorifying G-d’s name on a daily basis.
An Israeli strike could theoretically damage Iran’s nuclear program; only US can terminate program
At some point we need to stop simply defending and promoting Israel and start living in Israel
“We Jews are the only people who when we drop a book on the floor pick it up and kiss it.”
Though Zaide was the publisher of The Jewish Press, a big newspaper,I always remember him learning
Speaker Silver has been an extraordinary public servant since his election to the Assembly in 1975 and has been an exemplary leader of that body since 1994.
He spent the first leg of his daylong visit to the French capital at Hyper Cacher.
Drawing Congress into the Iran nuclear debate is the last thing the White House wants.
Great leaders like Miriam and like Sarah Schenirer possess the capacity to challenge the status quo that confronts them.
“These are good matzah balls,” my aunt Robertine would say, but her sister Irma would counter “No, not compared to Mama’s. They were always so light yet they never fell apart.”
The world wars caused unimaginable anguish for the Jews but God also scripted a great glory for our people.
The risks were great, but certain death awaited them if they remained. The gamble paid off, though the family was separated for the next four years of the war.
Beyond the severe discomfort there was also the danger of getting sunk by enemy submarines prowling the seas.
As his bomber lost altitude with the ground rushing up, my father remembered his last thought: “How am I going to get out of this?
Seventy-five years ago on November 10 the Nazis unleashed a wave of terror, destruction and death known as Kristallnacht upon Germany’s Jews, a fearsome presage of the Holocaust. On that day, the childhood of my then-12-year-old father, Kurt Lion, of blessed memory, was abruptly and savagely ended.
Forty years ago this week, Jews the world over watched in agony as Arab terrorists kidnapped and eventually massacred eleven Israeli Olympic athletes. The International Olympic Committee, bowing to Arab pressure, has repeatedly refused these Israelis a proper commemoration. But we as Jews ought to pay them the tribute of remembering their individual lives, deeds, and accomplishments.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/hannah-szenes-and-george-soros-a-study-in-moral-contrasts/2010/12/08/
Scan this QR code to visit this page online: