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Israeli Divers To Search Danube River For Remains Of Holocaust Victims

(JTA) — Divers from Israel’s ZAKA Search and Rescue will begin to search the Danube River in Hungary for the remains of Jewish Holocaust victims.

The work, which was scheduled to begin on Tuesday, comes nearly 75 years after tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews in October 1944 were shot on the banks of the river and their bodies dumped in the water as part of the mass executions by members of the Arrow Cross party.

The decision to allow the ZAKA divers to begin their work came after a meeting this week between Israel’s Interior Minister Aryeh Deri in Budapest and his Hungarian counterpart Sandor Pinter. ZAKA representatives previously had spent three years in international negotiations to receive permission for the search and recovery operation.

The ZAKA divers will use a recently purchased sonar device, which can descend to a depth of 150 meters and scan within 130 meters, quickly identifying objects and transferring the information and exact location to the device operator.

In 2011, human remains were discovered during construction work on the Margaret Bridge overlooking the Danube. 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 could also be, according to the Times of Israel.

A memorial to those murdered on the banks of the Daube was erected in 2005. Called “Shoes on the Danube,” it features dozens of pairs of empty shoes lined up at the edge of the river, where the Jews were told to step out of their shoes before being shot so that they would not fall in the water.


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