Theodor Herzl was buried in Mt. Herzl in Jerusalem 57 years ago, but the State of Israel is just now fulfilling his last wishes to bring the remains of his children – Paulina and Hans buried in Bordeaux, France – to be interred in Jerusalem.
Their bones were buried this week near their father’s tomb in a ceremony attended by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Chairman of the Jewish Agency, and other dignitaries.
Before he died in August 1949, Herzl asked that his body be buried in Israel, alongside his parents, sister and children. Herzl’s grave is on the hill named after him. He had three children: His eldest daughter Paulina and his son Hans who are buried in France, and his daughter Truda, who perished in the Holocaust. Her burial place remains unknown. Israel has already brought the coffins of Herzl’s parents and his sister to rest beside him on Mt. Herzl.
In 2005, the Knesset decided to bring the remains of his children to Mt. Herzl. The Prime Minister’s office discretely began to implement the decision, using the Mossad and the Jewish agency. At the request of the Jewish Agency Chairman Zeev Bielsky, Chief Sephardic Rabbi Shlomo Amar made a religious ruling that Herzl’s children are indeed Jewish and he allowed their burial in Israel despite the fact that Hans had converted to Christianity and took his own life over his sister’s grave. The Rabbi allowed the decision after he was shown evidence that Hans had returned to Judaism before his death and had prayed in a synagogue.
Bielsky said that this is a historic moment and a moral show of gratitude by Israel to the forerunner of the Jewish state.