By H.E. Mr. Alexander Shulgin, Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the Kingdom of The Netherlands.
One of the crucial aspects of work of the Russian Embassy in the Netherlands is the diligent preservation of the historical memory of the Great Victory brought to us by the brave soldiers of the Red Army who struggled against the nazi invaders. During the Great Patriotic War, 865 of them lost their lives on the territory of the Netherlands and neighboring countries, including 101 Soviet soldiers who fell victims of Nazism in the Nazi concentration camp Amersfoort.
The memorial cemetery in Leusden is the only Soviet military burial ground in the Netherlands. It was opened in 1948. Above each of the 865 graves there is a white tombstone with an engraved name of a deceased soldier on it. Most of them have only one inscription: ‘The Unknown Soviet Soldier’. In the center of the memorial stands a 10-meters white marble stele.
An incremental replacement of all the 865 gravestones in the cemetery, caused by the necessity of putting the new identification data on the buried soldiers, as well as by the Dutch legislation prescribing the replacement of gravestones every 60 years, is planned for the period of 2019 – 2021. The project is jointly financed by the Russian and Dutch authorities, as well as by the private investors. In 2019-2020 the Russian side has allocated 200.000 euros for these purposes. The work is carried out by the War Graves Fund of the Netherlands. The first stage of work was completed in 2019, the second – in December this year. By now 581 tombstones were replaced.
“The Soviet Field of Honor” is of a particular value for the Russian authorities. Ensuring the preservation of the Soviet military graves in the foreign countries and providing proper care for them is one of the key elements of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s foreign policy activities. This work is carried out in cooperation with the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation, the other Federal agencies and has both historical-political and humanitarian dimension. One of its priorities is the identification of all the deceased Russian soldiers, so that there were no unmarked graves left. The main goal to be achieved lies in a dictum ‘Nobody is Forgotten, Nothing is Forgotten’.
As it was said by the great Russian historian and writer, “without knowing the past, it is impossible to understand the true meaning of the present and the goals of the future”.
The military-memorial work of the Russian Embassy in the Netherlands is aimed at preserving the historical memory of the Great Victory and of those because of whom it became possible. This is Russia’s sacred duty to its ancestors, who were deceased in a great historical battle against fascism during the World War II for the peaceful future of their children and grandchildren.
We are very gratitude for the work done by the “Soviet Field of Honour” Fund, and the prominent journalist Remco Reiding, for their work of identifying fallen Soviet soldiers and searching for their living relatives. Every time when it is possible to remove the inscription “unknown Soviet soldier” from the tombstone and replace it with the real name of a person – is an extremely significant event for all of us.
The latest information that was recently discovered by Remco Reiding is of major importance, as it allows us to complement our history with the names of our true heroes who remained obscure until this moment.
By this work we will continue to do everything possible to combat the falsification of history, to preserve the good reputation of victorious soldiers and to prevent a revision of the internationally recognized results of the defeat of Nazism.