Poiskoviki. You find them all over the former Soviet Union. For the most part they occupy themselves like boy scouts with the search for the remains of soldiers that were left behind. For there are still tens of thousands of soldiers killed in the war with Nazi-Germany lying in a never uncovered field grave. They busy themselves with the identification of the dead, the recording of their personal details in honour rolls or databases and informing the families of those missing in action.
One of the volunteers who has done this work freely for many years is Tatyana from Tashkent. With unremitting enthusiasm she collects data on soldiers from Uzbekistan. Naturally we have asked her for help in the search for and analysing of data on multiple occasions.
This week we paid her a visit. I told her of our hope that the families of the Uzbek soldiers – should we ever find them – possess a photo so that we can compare it with the photo and drawings that were made in Kamp Amersfoort. She told me about a prisoner of war of whom she had found a Personalkarte with picture. And about the family who turned out to have a photo of him. The same almond eyes, the same oblong mouth, the same slanting eyebrows. However on the snapshot as a POW the soldier had a gaunt face.
Let us hope that we will get this lucky one day, for we do not have many other ways of identifying the 101.