Published On: Wed, Jan 16th, 2019

Israel and Hungary searches for Holocaust victims’ bones in the Danube river

ZAKA divers will use the latest sonar technology which will allow them to descend to a depth of 150 meters and scan within 130 meters

After the Nazi invasion of Hungary in 1944, Miklos Horthy began the deportation and eradication of Hungarian Jews. Before the genocide there were around 800.000 Jews living in Hungary, a number which saw a sharp increase due to the annexations of various populated areas which belonged to
Romania and the former Yugoslavia.

On May 15, 1944, deportation to Auschwitz-Birkenau began and it’s estimated that 90% of the roughly 430,000 Hungarian Jews were killed at arrival.

After the rise to power of the Arrow Cross party, militiamen began en masse killings by shooting Jews and any political opponents and dispersing their bodies in the Danube river. The victims were asked to take off their shoes and walk towards the edge of the water, this way their bodies
would crash straight in the Danube river.

ZAKA divers to retrieve Holocaust victim's bones from Danube

In 2005 a monument was erected for the victims of the Arrow Cross genocide. The monument is located on the Pest side of the river and it represents sixty pairs of period-appropriate shoes. In 2011, various human bone structures were found in the Danube, reopening the ongoing sensitive
debate on Hungary’s role in the Holocaust. But in a country where the PM Viktor Orban used on various occasions anti-semitism in his public speeches, the Holocaust has become a susceptible topic. Thus it comes as a surprise that after 75 years, Hungary has decided to accredit Israeli search and rescue organization ZAKA with a rescue operation, hoping that through collaboration and a joint effort the victims will finally obtain a Jewish burial.

The agreement between the two countries was reached after a reunion between Israel’s Interior Minister Aryeh Deri and Sándor Pintér the Hungarian counterpart. As stated by Deri, Sándor Pintér has pledged “assistance, support and technological equipment for the benefit of this project.”

ZAKA divers will have to use the latest sonar technology which will allow them to descend to a depth of 150 meters and scan within 130 meters but in agreement with a ZAKA spokesperson, due to “The movement of the water and boats, natural decay and even repair work to the bridges over the Danube” logistical challenges are expected. ZAKA’s chairman Yehuda Meshi-Zahav said that “this is the final act of grace we can do for these holy
victims, who were killed in sanctification of the Lord’s name.”

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