73 Years On, Czech Holocaust Survivor Will Be Buried as Israel's First Paratrooper

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Martin Davidovich's grave in the Czech Republic.
Martin Davidovich's grave in the Czech Republic.Credit: IDF Spokesperson's Unit

The IDF's first fallen paratrooper, a Czech Holocaust survivor who died over seven decades ago during a drill while training for eventual military service in Israel, will finally be buried in the Jewish State.

Martin Davidovich's grave in the Czech Republic.Credit: IDF Spokesperson's Unit

Martin Davidovich, who was born in 1927 in the town of Zdenova in the Munkács region of Czechoslovakia, was an avid reader, athlete and a member of the Hashomer Hatzair Zionist youth movement. After surviving the Auschwitz and Mauthausen concentration camps in which two of his five siblings were murdered, he returned to Czechoslovakia and joined the Czech Brigade.

The brigade was established in 1948 as a joint Czech-Israeli venture in which volunteers were armed and trained by instructors from the Czech army and the underground Haganah militia for eventual service in the nascent Israeli army. Davidovich was training as a parachutist when he was shot during a training exercise in August 1948.

At the request of his family, plans have been underway for the past three years to reinter Davidovich's remains in Israel, from his current resting place in the new Jewish cemetery in Prague. On Monday, a delegation of IDF and Defense Ministry officials arrived in the Czech capital to remove his body, which was flown to Israel yesterday. A new monument brought by the Israeli delegation is slated to be placed on the site of his former grave in Czechoslovakia.

Israel recognized Davidovitch as an IDF paratrooper in 2001. He will be buried at the Mount Herzl Military Cemetery on Thursday afternoon

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