Israeli divers search Danube River to find Holocaust victims’ remains

An Israeli search and rescue group will begin operations in Europe’s Danube River this week to find remains of Holocaust victims.

By Joseph Wolkin, World Israel News

Nearly a year and a half ago, Israel’s Holocaust museum, Yad Vashem, finished a project that identified every Hungarian Jew killed during the Holocaust. Now, Israel is determined to find the remains of those who perished on the banks of the Danube in Budapest, Hungary.

Israel’s ZAKA Search and Rescue organization, a volunteer-based group, will begin diving operations in Europe’s second largest river this week.

ZAKA, known for its global efforts to bring victims of terror attacks and mass casualty incidents to a full Jewish burial, volunteered for the historic task of retrieving and finally burying the bones according to Jewish law.

Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, who is currently in Hungary, said the remains – if found – will be sent over to the Jewish State for a proper burial.

“Over the decades, there have been no attempts to locate and retrieve the bones of the Holocaust victims who fell in their thousands into the river as a result of the mass executions by the Arrow Cross party members,” ZAKA said in a statement.

The Arrow Cross was a far-right party whose ideology was similar to the Nazi Party and which ruled Hungary from October 15, 1944 to March 28, 1945. During its brief rule, it oversaw the murder of 10,000 to 15,000 civilians (many of them Jews and Gypsies).

Over 500,000 Hungarian Jews perished in the Holocaust, many of whom were sent to the Auschwitz death camp.

In order to find the remains, Zaka will use a recently acquired sonar radar, capable of descending to a depth of 150 meters and scan within 130 meters, identifying objects and sending the information and exact location to the sonar’s operator.

ZAKA Chairman Yehuda Meshi-Zahav said, “This is the final act of chesed [mercy] that we can do for these holy martyrs who were murdered in Kiddush Hashem [in sanctification of the Lord’s name]. ZAKA sees this as a mission of the highest order and value, to do everything we can to finally bring them to burial in accordance with Jewish law.”

Human remains have been found in the Danube before, notably in 2011 during the renovation of Budapest’s Margaret Bridge.

A map of the Danube River. (Shutterstock)