Intensive diving effort fails to find Holocaust victims Danube remains

Hungarian Nazi-collaborators shot tens of thousands of Jews on the banks of the Danube during the Holocaust.

January 16, 2019 16:03
1 minute read.
Deri, escorted by ZAKA divers, is standing at the banks of the Danube in Hungary

Deri, escorted by ZAKA divers, is standing at the banks of the Danube in Hungary. (photo credit: ZAKA RESCUE AND RECOVERY ORGANIZATION)


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Looking for the remains of Jewish Holocaust victims, an Israeli group of ZAKA Search and Rescue divers flew to Hungry and began a winter diving operation to locate the remains and offer them a Jewish burial.

The team operated a sonar scan on Tuesday yet was unable to locate any remains, further searches will be held in February.     

This according to Shlomo Kovash, the head of Unified Hungarian Jewish Congregation.

Between 1944 and 1945, Hungarian Nazi-collaborators from the ruling Arrow Cross party shot tens of thousands of Jews on the banks of the Danube. Their victims were forced to strip naked and a firing squad then shot them in the back at close range so that they fell into the river to be washed away. At least 80,000 Jews were killed at the site.

In 2011, human remains were found on a bridge overlooking the Danube during routine construction work.

DNA tests run on the bones in August 2015 found that at least nine of the 15 samples were Ashkenazi Jews from Europe and that six others may also be Jewish Holocaust victims.

For the last three years, ZAKA has been working towards conducting a meeting with Hungarian and international officials in order to obtain the requisite permits for the search.

The matter was raised by the chief rabbis when they met with Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban during his visit to Israel last year, while Hungarian Kovash assisted in coordinating between ZAKA and the government.

“Whether this is controversial or not is really not an issue,” Kovash explained, following the ongoing debate of how the Hungarian government should deal with the issue of complacency on the matter. “The only thing that matters is the major mitzvah of bringing the victims to burial.” He said the government was helpful in obtaining permits for the searches."

On Monday, Interior Minister Arye Deri, who was visiting Hungry on an official visit, said that he was “pleased that the Hungarian minister promised to give the assistance and the human and technological resources to this effort,” adding that ZAKA will “do this act of goodness for the martyrs and bring them to burial in Israel. May God avenge their blood.”

Jeremy Sharon contributed to this report.

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