July 11, 1902 – January 1943
Ivan Shepetov, Ukraine 1942 (private collection)
Ivan Shepetov grew up in Kamyanske (present-day Dniprodzerzhynsk, Ukraine) in a working-class family. After leaving school he worked as a turner at the steelworks. In 1918, during the Russian Civil War, he volunteered as a soldier in the Red Army. He initially attended infantry school, then cavalry school, and determinedly worked his way up to the rank of general. He joined the Communist Party, married and had a son. Beginning in 1931 he underwent three-year staff training at the military academy in Moscow. The family lived in various cities, also in Tajikistan and Lithuania. After the German invasion of the Soviet Union, he succeeded in freeing the division under his command from encirclement on the south front. For this deed he was promoted to major general and awarded the USSR’s highest distinction: “Hero of the Soviet Union.”
Ivan Mykhaylovych Shepetov, July 1926 (private collection)
Ivan Mykhaylovych Shepetov and his wife Kseniya, Kyiv 1927 (private collection)
Ivan Shepetov was wounded and taken prisoner in May 1942 during the Battle of Kharkiv. The Wehrmacht initially interned him in a reserve hospital in East Prussia, then in a prisoner-of-war camp for officers in Hammelburg, Lower Franconia. In late 1942 the Gestapo arranged for his transfer to a police prison in Nuremberg. Two weeks later, he and seven other Soviet officers were taken from there to the Flossenbürg concentration camp. Not long after their arrival there, the SS killed the men by shooting them in the back of the neck in an annex of the camp crematorium.
Ivan Mykhaylovych Shepetov, Rostov-on-Don (Soviet Union), November 1941 (private collection)
Ivan Mykhaylovych Shepetov in a prisoner-of-war camp in East Prussia, May/June 1942 (private collection)
Several memorial plaques have been dedicated to Ivan Shepetov in Ukraine, and many streets named after him. At the steelworks in Dniprodzerzhynsk, a bronze bust commemorates the murdered general. His son Yuriy visits the Flossenbürg Concentration Camp Memorial regularly to keep his father’s memory alive.
Bronze bust of Ivan Mykhaylovych Shepetov at the steelworks in Dniprodzerzhynsk, 1983 (private collection)
Yuriy Ivanovych Shepetov in front of the memorial plaque for his father in the “Jesus in the Dungeon” Chapel at the Flossenbürg Concentration Camp Memorial, 2010 (private collection)
The date of death stated on the memorial plaque – May 21, 1943 – comes from unknown Soviet sources.