At Rusthof gaveyard each war grave will have a burning candle on Christmas Eve. Volunteers will place over 1300 of them in total.
The candles have been provided by Crematorium and Cemeteries Amersfoort. The Foundation Soviet Military Cemetery will put them in place with the aid of volunteers. Not only on the graves of Soviet soldiers, but also on those of Dutch and other Allied war victims.
On the Soviet Military Cemetery adjoining Rusthof graveyard 865 Soviet soldiers lie buried. Rusthof itself contains the bodies of 176 Dutch and 294 foreign war victims. Flight crew from Great Britain, Canada and Poland, but also Czechoslovakians, Italians and Greeks. Nowhere in the Netherlands are so many nationalities gathered in one spot as on Rusthof.
The candles will be put in place at 16.30 hours on 24 December. “We’re glad that so many people lend a hand annually”, says initiator Remco Reiding of the Foundation Soviet Military Cemetery. “Most of the foreign war victims lie buried thousands of kilometres from home. Their relatives are unable to personally light a candle on Rusthof.”
Visitors can contribute with a donation. “We want the community to help us keep the memory of the war victims alive”, says Wilco Plaggenborg, manager of Rusthof. “That is why we offer people the opportunity to help us light up the war graves on Christmas Eve.”
Christmas Eve on Rusthof is a time-honoured tradition. Annually two to three thousand people attend. They are received with hot chocolate and mulled wine. And every visitor may receive a candle to put on the grave of a loved one. “We are pleased that this initiative enables us to also bring the war graves into the light”, says Plaggenborg.