The first fallen IDF paratrooper buried in Israel, 73 years after his death

Martin Davidovich’s body was buried in Jerusalem on Thursday one day after his transfer to Israel and 73 years after his death in a training accident in Czechoslovakia.

The Israel Defense Forces have identified Davidovich as the nation’s first downed paratrooper.

A delegation from the Defense Ministry and the IDF, accompanied by active IDF paratroopers, traveled to Prague on Sunday to retrieve Davidovich’s remains, before taking them back to Israel for internment at Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl Military Cemetery.

Speaking at the burial ceremony, Deputy Chief of Staff Alon Schuster said it was Israel’s “moral duty” to bring Davidoich’s body from the Czech Republic to Israel.

“We will continue to turn every stone and do everything we can to bring the captives and missing to Israel,” he said.

Davidovich was born in 1927 in Częstochowa in Czechoslovakia.

He was actively involved in the Hashomer Hatzair youth movement until World War II, when he was sent to Auschwitz and later to the Mauthausen concentration camp. Many of his family members died in the Holocaust.

Martin Davidovich. (Courtesy)

After the end of the war, Davidovich returned to Czechoslovakia and joined the Czech Brigade, a military unit established with the aim of training future soldiers for the State of Israel.

According to the Chaim Herzog World War II Jewish Soldier Museum, the brigade was founded in July 1948. Jewish volunteers received military training from the Czech army, in coordination with Israeli officials.

“The idea was basically to establish a military force made up of Jewish volunteers, trained in Czechoslovakia, who would emigrate to Israel and help build the IDF and be a fighting force within it,” the museum said.

According to testimonies of the time, Davidovich was assassinated during a training exercise in August 1948 that was aimed at practicing taking a sentry post.

The person guarding the post grabbed Davidovich and shot him in the head. He later claimed that he did not believe his gun was loaded. He was suspended for 24 hours.

Davidovich was 21 when he died.

The IDF burial ceremony of Martin Davidovich, the man named by the Israel Defense Forces as the nation’s first downed paratrooper, at Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl Military Cemetery, on October 28, 2021 (IDF).

“Martin, his generation dreamed of the country and fought for its rebirth, we live in a generation for which the dream has come true,” said the head of the IDF Manpower Division, Major General Yaniv Asur. , at the ceremony on Thursday.

“We have established a prosperous and flourishing state, a state of Hebrew culture that rests on the chain of generations, a state with an army that defends itself.

“By bringing Martin’s bones to Israel, we tell ourselves something about ourselves, our values ​​and our identity, about who we are as a people and as an army,” Asur added.

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