“When a name disappears, only then does the man disappear.”
Vladimir Kukin, director of the Office of Maintenance of War Graves and Commemoration Work in the embassy of the Russian Federation in Berlin, spent two days at the International Tracing Service (ITS / International Tracing Service) in Bad Arolsen to get an overview of the archival records, the request handling, and the research and education tasks. After a tour of the archives, he held talks with Deputy Director Djordje Drndarski and representatives of the ITS. “In the past, the cooperation in clarifying the fates of victims was successful," says Kukin. "We want to continue the cooperation with the ITS."
The War Graves Commission knows of 4081 places in which Russian prisoners of war, concentration camp inmates, and forced laborers are buried. "It is important for the families to know the fate of Russian citizens, and to have a place where they can mourn and lay down flowers," knows Kukin. The colleagues of the War Graves Commission pass the requests from Russia to the ITS and other institutions. "The information in Arolsen has a special meaning for the families," says Kukin. "Many times the ITS was able to give families certainty about the past."
After his two-day visit, Kukin now has a better idea of the content of the ITS archives. "In particular, the lists of graves from the post-war period are of interest to us. We can now investigate whether these graves are still in the listed locations, or whether any reburials were done. "In addition to the acquisition of information regarding the sites of Russian war graves in Germany, the knowledge of the fate of the victims is in the foreground. We want to gather an accurate count of the names so we can remember the victims," explains the representative from the Russian embassy."Only when the name disappears, does the man disappear.”