A “Hero of the Soviet Union” Dies in Buchenwald

On 6 January, the camp administration registered the death of the 28-year-old Soviet prisoner of war Gawriil Lepjochin. A few months later, much to their astonishment, some of his fellow inmates encountered him alive.

The highly decorated officer had been shot down over Gdansk in 1943 and taken prisoner of war. He was sent to Buchenwald in July 1944 for trying to escape. His fellow inmate Konstantin Krochinskij later recounted the rescue operation that now ensued: “The Special Department kept a list of political inmates targeted by the Gestapo and was also informed when death sentences were issued. With the help of the International Centre, our network collaborated with the infirmary, the pathology station and the general records department on complicated and risky operations to save our people […].”

Gawriil Lepjochin also owed his survival to that secret resistance network. He adopted the name of Iwan Chrjapa, an inmate who had died. With his new identity, he survived the Bad Salzungen subcamp and its clearance. He was liberated in Buchenwald.

(Elena Petuhova)

Quelle: “Report by Konstantin Krochinskij”, in Berichtssammlung ehemaliger sowjetischer Häftlinge, 1946 (RGASPI Moscow; Buchenwald Memorial).