Herzl’s Body Buried in Israel
Israeli soldiers at Herzl’s burial ceremony, August 17, 1949. Israel National Archive/Yaakov Ben Dov

August 17, 1949

Theodor Herzl, who was buried in Vienna after his death July 20, 1904, is reburied along with his wife and parents on the Jerusalem hill that is renamed Mount Herzl in his honor. The ceremony fulfills a clause the father of modern Zionism inserted into his will in March 1903 in which he asked to have his remains and those of his family moved to the Land of Israel when the Jewish people had control there.

With the War of Independence over, the First Knesset passed a law Aug. 10, 1949, to allow the World Zionist Organization and the Israeli government to transport the Herzls’ coffins from Austria to Jerusalem for reburial. The state burial ceremony includes a eulogy by Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion after a speech from President Chaim Weizmann is read by the Knesset speaker because Weizmann can’t be there. Ben-Gurion says the reburial is “not a procession of mourning, but a journey of victory, the triumph of the vision that became a reality” roughly 60 years after Herzl convened the First Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland.

Ben-Gurion says the state of Israel itself is Herzl’s tombstone and “will be built and will grow in love with its sons and builders.”

The bodies of Herzl’s children later join the family plot.