Anna szenes house

Anna Szenes House

General Background

The Anna Szenes House in Kibbutz Sdot Yam was reopened in November 2020 and is dedicated to celebrating the character and story of poet and parachutist Anna Szenes, a Kibbutz Sdot-Yam member.

The house is a unique building, based on Bauhaus architecture, which has undergone renovation and conservation and is located in a grassy lush area overlooking the sea.

The Anna Szenes House serves as a visitor and cultural center and includes a number of areas for visitors to enjoy:

  • A new permanent exhibition, designed by the “Design Mill” company, invites visitors to enter the world of Anna Szenes and tells her story through a journey between the stations of her life – starting from her rich, privileged childhood in Budapest, her immigration to the Land of Israel, her time spent in Israel in Nahalal and Sdot Yam, her enlistment to the British Army, the mission in Hungary, prison, and the funeral procession in Israel.
  • An auditorium with 98 seats and a large screen, which features a short film telling Anna’s story. It is also possible to screen various films in the auditorium and hold conferences, lectures, and other cultural activities.
  • In the southern part of the building, there is an open stage for events and shows, which also includes a photo exhibition depicting the history of Kibbutz Sdot Yam.
  • A public area of verdant lawns with seating areas, as well as the original monument that stood on Anna’s grave in Budapest and was brought to Sdot Yam in 2007.
  • The Caesarea Antiquity Museum, which displays unique archaeological finds from Caesarea and its surroundings.
History of the Museum

The Preservation of the Museum

In 1945, after learning of the murder of Anna Szenes, the members of Kibbutz Sdot Yam decided to commemorate her memory with a building of life. “Anna Szenes was sent from the group and carried the group’s name,” claimed kibbutz member Zvika Baharia (Behar), who initiated the memorial project. In accordance with the Settlement Commission (1946), the planning of the house was entrusted to architect Shmuel Mestechkin. The museum was part of a complex, which included the structure of Maoz Hayam and the Caesarea Antiquity Museum.

The house was built with local materials and designed in the Bauhuas-style as a elongated, versatile structure, facing the north-south direction and corresponding with the view of the sea. The building has four main wings: a foyer, a central entrance space, two wings to the north and south and balconies. The open stage in the southern part has created a space that merges naturally with the sea, the sand, and the sky.

"One brick per factory"
תכנון הבית

Planning the Museum

The cornerstone was placed in a very impressionable ceremony and construction began under the management of “Solel Boneh”. In March 1950, Anna Szenes House was inaugurated, while Anna’s remains were brought to burial in Israel. At the inauguration ceremony, the keys were handed over to Anna’s mother, Katrina Szenes, who opened the memorial room. Anna Szenes House served as the kibbutz’s cultural center, and included a reference room, a library, the Anna Szenes Archive, a music room, the Caesarea Antiquity Museum, a stage for performances, and more.

In 1991, the house became a visitor-and-memorial center.

In 2007, a monument, which stood on Anna’s tomb in Hungary, was brought to Israel and placed in front of the Anna Szenes House.

Anna Szenes house preservation

In 1999, the Anna Szenes Association, a public association chosen to commemorate the legacy of Anna Szenes, was established in cooperation with Sdot Yam, Eitan Szenes, and the Szenes family. Thus began a process that focused on the rehabilitation and preservation of the house, which began to show wear and tear because of its proximity to the sea. 

The conservation and construction plans were drawn by architect Gabi Magen from the “Yovatim” architectural firm, who on the other hand faced the challenge of adapting the building to the requirements of a modern display, and on the other, maintained its original appearance. 

The project management was entrusted to Arnon Heifetz on behalf of the Council for the Conservation of Sites, who led the planning decisions regarding reconstruction of parts of the house. Conservation and construction work included constructing an auditorium, restoring the open stage in the southern part of the museum, and preserving the music room. They were carried out by the Minister of Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage, the Ministry of Culture and Sports, the Israel Government Tourist Corporation, the Hof HaCarmel Regional Council, and Kibbutz Sdot Yam.

The exhibition, designed by the “Design Mill” and curators Shunit Gal and Yehuda Wegman, presents the life story of Anna Szenes and the Yishuv paratroopers (the 37-paratrooper delegation), of whom Anna was a member. On the open stage was the historical display of Kibbutz Sdot Yam, which celebrated its 80th anniversary.

On Friday, November 6, 2020, 76 years after Anna’s murder, the house was inaugurated.

The front of the house faces the sea.