Candles for murdered Soviet soldiers

This morning, while still dark, candles were put in place at the execution site of 77 Soviet soldiers. Today 78 years ago they were shot at the crack of dawn.

24 white candles were burned for the 24 soldiers who succumbed in Kamp Amersfoort to starvation, sickness and ill-treatment and 77 red candles for the men who were shot. All 101 soldiers were exhumed after the war and reburied in the soviet Military Cemetery at the Dodeweg in Leusden, next to Rusthof cemetery.

Originally the commemoration at the Koedriest monument would have been attended by a delegation from Uzbekistan. Most victims probably came from that country. Through the efforts of the Soviet Military Cemetery Foundation that country has recently shown great interest in the fate of the Soviet soldiers who died in Amersfoort.

Because of the corona virus the delegation could not be present and the remembrance ceremony was also not open to the public. “But even though we stand here without Uzbeks, in a very small group, those 101 anonymous soldiers are not forgotten anymore”, said Remco Reiding, director of the Soviet Military Cemetery Foundation. “For last year mayors, ambassadors, governors, even presidents haven spoken of them.” (Read his speech here.)

The candles were placed this year by Gerolf Bouwmeester (mayor of Leusden), Kees Kraanen (deputy mayor of Amersfoort), Willemien Meershoek (director of Kamp Amersfoort), Alex Engbers, Remco Reiding and poet Ruben van Gogh. Van Gogh of the Utrecht City Poets Society recited a specially written verse.

The commemoration is held annually by the Soviet Military Cemetery Foundation.

Photos by Marco Hofsté