After almost eighty years, researchers at the Soviet Field of Honor near Amersfoort have succeeded in identifying seven Georgians who died. Until now the Georgians had been buried as an ‘unknown Soviet soldier’. Now they have been given a name after the exhumation of their remains and DNA research.
One of the seven Georgians who has now been identified is Ilja Beroeashvili, reports RTV Utrecht. His grandson Gia is coming from Georgia to Amersfoort next Monday.
“All these years we have desperately wondered what happened to him,” says Gia Beroeashvili from Georgia. “Tears come to my eyes when I think that next week I will be at his grave and can finally find peace.”
Not only Gia Beroeashvili will visit the Netherlands next week. Georgian Ioseb will also visit the grave of a relative who has been missing for decades for the first time on Monday: his great-uncle Semyon Vanishvili.
The identification of the seven Georgians is largely the work of researcher, writer and journalist Remco Reiding of the Soviet Field of Honor Foundation. With archival and DNA research, he has been trying for years to find out the names of the 865 unknown soldiers who lie in the cemetery. To date, this has been successful in 250 people.
The military cemetery near Amersfoort is located on the spot where 101 Russian prisoners of war were murdered in World War II. After the war, other Soviet soldiers who had fallen in the West also came to rest.
88 hand grenades stolen
Reiding’s research shows that Ilya Beroeashvili, Semyon Vanishvili and the other five now identified Georgians fought with the Red Army against the Germans in 1941. They were taken prisoner and recruited as auxiliaries for the German army.
Via via they ended up in a German uniform in the Netherlands, at the fort on the Sint Aagtendijk in Beverwijk. That fort served as an ammunition depot. On April 20, 1945, Hitler’s birthday, the Georgians in the fort were caught stealing 88 hand grenades for the Dutch resistance. On the same evening, the Germans shot the Georgians. After the war, their bodies were exhumed and taken to Leusden, where they were given a final resting place on the Soviet Field of Honor.
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