Today two soldiers who lie buried at the Soviet Military Cemetery in Leusden were identified with the aid of secret documents from Russian archives. Since the war their identity has remained unknown.
Researcher Remco Reiding, director of the Soviet Military Cemetery Foundation, discovered the papers in regional files. On the basis of data in these documents he was able to ascertain the identity of two soldiers who were hitherto unknown.
“It is fantastic that we finally know who these boys are “, says Reiding. “75 years after the Second World War we can finally put a face to them and trace and inform their relatives.”
Private ‘Aleks Chibalov’ turned out to be Alexander Ivanovich Chebakov. And private ‘Isay Mineyew’ has been positively identified as Isay Yelizarovich Mineyev.
Officially both are still listed as missing in action in the former Soviet Union, where many millions of soldiers did not return from the front. Countless died on the battlefield, millions – like Chebakov and Mineyev – ended up in prisoner of war camps of the German Wehrmacht.
Mineyev was captured on 20 May 1942 near Charkov. He spent almost three years in captivity. Because of the dismal conditions and the hard labour he contracted tuberculosis of which – after having been liberated by the Americans – he died on 24 April 1945. He was 42 years old. His wife Anna and their six children never knew that her husband and their father was dead.
Chebakov fell into German hands on 15 July 1943 near Belgorod. He also died of tuberculosis, on 2 June 1945 in Senne. His wife Yelena was left to cope with the children.
Their relatives are now being traced in the province of Sverdlovsk in the Ural, some 2500 kilometres east of Moscow.
The Soviet Military Cemetery Foundation is pleased with the cooperation of institutions in the former Soviet Union. “These POW cards, that have been a state secret for decades, are an important source in identifying the soldiers”, says Reiding. “We are delighted that regional branches of the secret service as well as regional archives are putting these crucial documents at our disposal.”
The POW card of Mineyev even contains his photo and finger print. “It’s getting close”, says Reiding. “For a long time he was no more that just a strange name on a grave stone, but now we can literally put a face to him.”