This week the family of private Elizbar Chitashvili was located in the Georgian village of Sabue. 76 years after the end of the Second World War his relatives finally learned that he has been found and lies buried in the Soviet Military Cemetery in Leusden.
His family was incredulous and joyful at the same time at this totally unexpected news. Ever since the war ended Elizbar was listed as missing in action. Only after seeing a photo of his gravestone in Leusden did they dare believe the wonderful news from faraway Netherlands.
Elizbar was single and had no children when in 1941 as a 21 year old he left for the front to fight against Nazi-Germany. His mother waited for his return all her life. She was convinced that he would come back. Before her demise she bought a grave for two persons, so that her son might be laid to rest with her.
But Elizbar never returned. He was made a prisoner of war by the Germans at the Eastern Front and became ill during his captivity. He died of tuberculosis on 14 May 1945 at the age of 25 in the German town of Herne. His body was interred at Margraten and later reburied at the Soviet Military Cemetery in Leusden, the resting place of 865 Soviet soldiers.
For decades they lay there in anonymity. Their identity unknown, their family untraced. Until the Amersfoort researcher Remco Reiding of the Soviet Military Cemetery Foundation set his mind to it. So far he has identified over 250 soldiers and traced the relatives of more than 220 of them.
Elzbar was only identified this month. All that time he had lain buried under a misspelled name. Once this was established volunteers of the Soviet Military Cemetery Foundation went to look for his family. Not only did they find his next of kin, but also his photo: on the empty grave his mother had meant for him. And so the soldier in grave #252 not only received a name but also a face.