On Monday Dali Asanishvili passed away in the Georgian capital Tbilisi. Last year she was a guest of honour at the Soviet Military Cemetery in Leusden, where her life story was portrayed by well-known Dutch actress Willeke van Ammelrooy.
Dali was born in 1942, when her father Arsen Asanishvili had already left for the front to fight against Nazi-Germany. Never to be heard from again by Dali and her mother.
After the war Dali as a little girl could not longer bear the grief of her mother. She decided to write her mother a letter, in which she pretended to be her father and promised to return. Het mother was ecstatic until she found out that Dali was the author.
Not until long after her mother’s death did Dali finally learn what had happened to her father. After researcher Remco Reiding tracked her down in Tbilisi, Dali was beside herself with joy when she heard what he had to tell.
Father Arsen had been taken prisoner, recruited by the German army under duress and together with other Georgians was employed guarding an ammunitions depot in the fort (on the Sint Aagtendijk) in the town of Beverwijk. There, on 20 April 1945 – Hitler’s birthday – they stole 88 hand grenades, intending to smuggle them to the Dutch resistance. They were caught red handed, executed that very same day and after the war reburied at Leusden.
On 20 April 2012 Dali visited the military cemetery and the fort for the very first time. A small memorial was held in the presence of the mayor of Beverwijk and the ambassador of Georgia.
In 2019 Dali came over a second time for the premiere of LICHT (LIGHT), theatrical audio tours of the Soviet Military Cemetery. Her life story was portrayed by Willke van Ammelrooy, who lives in Beverwijk, the town where Dali’s father was murdered. Together with Dali the actress visited Arsen’s grave in Leusden.
“Thanks in part to Dali the Soviet Military Cemetery is no longer a dead place”, says Remco Reiding, director of the Soviet Military Cemetery Foundation. “”Among the people that have given the military cemetery a face and a story, Dali takes a front row seat.”
Dali succumbed this week to corona. She reached the age of 78.