The retired minister and his wife have a long-lasting bond with the Soviet Military Cemetery. “We are children of the war and were raised in this way by our parents and school. In the years that we lived in Germany we always attended the remembrance ceremony for fallen Dutch soldiers who lie buried in a military cemetery near Düsseldorf”, says Prinsen.
“Once back in the Netherlands we read regular articles in the Amersfoortse Courant (Amersfoort Paper) about one Remco Reiding who was looking for relatives of dead Soviet soldiers. After hearing a lecture from him we registered as host family for next of kin. That’s how Lidia ended up with us.”
What followed in 2010 was an emotional reunion of Lidia and her father whom she had seen leaving for the front at the age of 4 and whose name she now saw inscribed on a headstone of a well-kept grave 68 years later. Ina Prinsen talks of the small ceremony held by the graveside, with Russian sausage, chocolate and vodka. And how some prayers were recited at the grave of father Tichon.
“Lidia said: ‘Now I can die in peace. My mother cried all her life over her husband who was missing all that time.’ Their grief has found its focus”, says Prinsen. “This was one of the discoveries that make the tracing of relatives so worthwhile.”
The couple decided to adopt the grave of Lidia’s father Tichon. “Each year we have a photo taken of us at the grave so Lidia knows it was not a one-off thing, but that her father’s resting place is being well-cared for”, concludes Ina Prinsen.