Russians donate 300.000 euros for renovation Military Cemetery

The Russian government has earmarked 300.000 euros for the Soviet Military Cemetery in Leusden. The money will serve to replace all 865 headstones at the cemetery in the coming year.

“These graves are the tangible and symbolic reminders of our turbulent history”, says Alexander Shulgin, the Russian ambassador in The Netherlands. “We must never forget the 865 men and women that lie buried in the Soviet Military Cemetery.”

Thanks to the donation of the Russian authorities the desired full-scale renovation of the military cemetery in one go becomes realistic. “With this contribution it should be possible to inscribe the proper names on the grave stones”, says Remco Reiding of the Foundation Soviet Military Cemetery. “We hope that the Dutch government will be willing to foot the bill for the remaining expenses.”

On the new headstones the proper and full names, plus dates of birth and death will be inscribed as much as possible. The readjustments are a result of over twenty years of research by Reiding, which led to an avalanche of new, previously unknown data. This way the identity of almost 300 soldiers has been established, their full names have been retrieved and dates of birth and death have become known.

“This research is of great importance”, believes ambassador Shulgin. “The government of the Russian Federation considers keeping the memory of the war victims alive and calling for peace as core business. That is why the Russian embassy makes sure that the war graves on the Soviet Military Cemetery are well cared for and well-kept.

These duties are executed by the Nederlandse Oorlogsgravenstichting (Netherlands War Graves Foundation), that administers the Military Cemetery at the Dodeweg in Leusden. “We are happy with the involvement, cooperation and flexibility of the  foundation”, says Reiding. “We are convinced that we can manage this task together.”

The Oorlogsgravenstichting too expects that the military cemetery can be fully renovated. “We are  pleased by this contribution that will enable us to renew the cemetery, in concert with the Foundation Soviet Military Cemetery. Allowing us to do justice to the dead, as well as the results of years of research”, states Theo Vleugels, director of the War Graves Foundation.

Read here the full statement by ambassador Shulgin.