Hungary to help retrieve remains of Holocaust victims in Danube

Source: Xinhua| 2019-01-17 00:57:07|Editor: yan
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BUDAPEST, Jan. 16 (Xinhua) -- Hungary is going to help retrieve the remains of Holocaust victims from the River Danube, the Hungarian Ministry of Interior said here on Wednesday.

"Hungary is going to give its full support in the retrieval of the remains of the victims of the Holocaust" the Ministry said.

"The volunteers of ZAKA International Rescue Unit arrived at Budapest and they can count on the helpful cooperation, if needed, of the staff of the Ministry of Interior, and its organizations," the statement added.

ZAKA is Israel's primary rescue and recovery volunteer organization, with thousands of volunteers on call 24/7 to respond to any terror attack, accident or disaster. ZAKA volunteers also work in specialist search and rescue units on land and sea and the UN-recognized ZAKA International Rescue Unit operates at mass casualty incidents around the world.

"Nearly 75 years after the mass shooting of Jews at the banks of the River Danube, Budapest, ZAKA divers attempt to retrieve their bones for burial," ZAKA announced in a statement.

"Their divers are about to begin searching the river in an attempt to retrieve their bones for a full Jewish burial," the organization added.

"After three years of protracted international negotiations, the decision to allow ZAKA divers to commence work was announced following a meeting this week between Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri in Budapest with his Hungarian counterpart," the statement detailed.

ZAKA explained: "The ZAKA Search and Rescue organization, which is known for its work around the world to bring victims of terror attacks and mass casualty incidents to a full Jewish burial, took upon itself this historic task of retrieving and finally burying the bones in accordance with Jewish law. The movement of the water and boats, natural decay and even repair work to the bridges over the Danube all add to the logistical challenge of the project."

The ZAKA divers will be assisted in their search by 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.

Despite the expectations of the families of the survivors, the largest Hungarian Jewish organization MAZSIHISZ (Hungarian association of Jewish communities) is quite prudent and cautious, and will not participate in the effort.

Speaking to main news portal "Index" of a research conducted in 2016 on bodies found in the River Danube, MAZSIHISZ President Andras Heisler said: "The connection of bones to specific individuals was impossible. According to historian researchers, thousands of people were fired into the Danube during the Holocaust, and many were killed in the river during the siege of Budapest. Their bones are believed to have been completely scattered over the seventy years, and it is possible that one of Europe's largest rivers brought them as far as the Black Sea".

During the Second World War, about 600,000 Hungarian Jews were killed, thousands of them were shot into the freezing River Danube on the winter of 1944-1945 by the Arrow-Cross, Hungarian fascists ally to Hitler's nazis, according to Andras Heisler.