First one of the soldiers murdered in Leusden identified

Ilsha Makhametov

They were treated like animals, murdered, thrown into a pit and buried anonymously. But now finally, eighty years after their death, one of the 101 of the Soviet soldiers interred in Leusden has his name back: Ilsya Mukhametov.

Since 1998 researcher Remco Reiding has tried to trace the identity of the 101 Soviet soldiers who died in or around Kamp Amersfoort and lie buried at the Soviet Military Cemetery. “Terrific that after 23 years we finally succeeded”, says Reiding. “The Nazis wanted to dehumanize them and even took away their names, but now with a probability verging on certainty we know who one of them is.”

Reiding, director of the Soviet Military Cemetery Foundation, cannot make promises. “Everything points to Ilsya having died here, but to be totally sure requires DNA testing.”

Even the family of Ilsya has been found. One of his two daughters, 85 year old Modyangul, is still alive. With the aid of her daughter she was searching for her father until today. “We are incredibly happy that he has been located”, says granddaughter Dilnaz.

The 101 Soviet soldiers were brought to Kamp Amersfoort on 27 September 1941. The Nazis treated them as subhuman. What was remarkable was that most of them came from Central Asia, in particular Uzbekistan. The camp doctor thought their features so special that he had two dead soldiers beheaded and their skulls boiled to act as study objects on his desk.

Within half a year of their arrival 24 died of starvation, sickness and abuse. The remaining 77 were shot outside the camp on 9 April 1942. Their remains were found after the war and reburied at the Soviet Military Cemetery. A monument was raised on their execution site where since 2013 the Soviet Military Cemetery Foundation holds an annual remembrance ceremony.