• collection of the Senesh family
  • Hannah Senesh and her brother Gyuri in Tel Aviv, 1944

“In the end,” says curator Louis Levine of his latest exhibit, dedicated to the life of the poet Hannah Senesh, “this is not a Holocaust story. This is a war story.”

Except that “Fire In My Heart: The Story of Hannah Senesh” just went on display at the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Skokie.

Nonetheless, it’s true that “Fire In My Heart” does not bear any of the hallmarks of a Holocaust exhibit. There are no yellow stars, no striped uniforms, no photos of starving concentration camp inmates. Hannah Senesh spent most of World War II in the relative safety of Palestine. Though she did die at the hands of the Gestapo, it was while facing a firing squad, not in a gas chamber.

“She was not murdered,” says Levine. “She was executed. She was given a soldier’s death. She was buried in a Jewish cemetery, not dumped in the Danube. She was executed because she was a traitor to Hungary. For these reasons, this is not a Holocaust story.”

It is, however, one of the most remarkable stories that came out of the Holocaust era.