Dutch-Italian man who died in Kharkiv thought Russian invasion was a “great injustice”
The mother of 27-year-old Benjamin Giorgio Galli, who died fighting for Ukraine’s International Legion, said her son joined the military effort simply because he thought Russia’s actions there were morally indefensible. Galli, from Winterswijk, Gelderland, died on Sunday six days after he was wounded by a bombing, his mother, Mirjam, told AD.
Galli was on a mission in a village near Kharkiv when a bomb went off on 12 September. The Dutch man was struck by several pieces of shrapnel, and was transported to a hospital. His parents tried to make their way from the Netherlands to Kyiv. While she was on her way to Ukraine in a bus with her Italian husband they received a call saying that Galli had died.
“He didn't go there to be the hero, and also no to play war. He went there because he thought it was a great injustice that Russia had invaded Ukraine. He wanted to help the people get their land back,” Mirjam told the newspaper.
He was working for a logistics company in Winterswijk when the Russian invasion intensified in February. Always interested in military history, Galli came to a fast decision to travel to Ukraine. He spoke with his family at length for four days, but ultimately decided to head towards Poland’s border with Ukraine with nothing but a backpack, some clothes, and some money.
Galli was I assigned to the First International Legion on 3 March. He called when he could, including when they were under heavy fire, but also when he received a letter of commendation from his commander. "We are very grateful to you for supporting the Ukrainians in the fight against the Russian aggressor," wrote Bogdan Molchanov.
His mother spoke with Galli the day before he was injured, and he described restoring electricity in people’s homes, clearing debris, and installing plumbing systems. “He was not only there to fight, but also to really do something meaningful for the Ukrainians.”
It would be the last conversation she would have with her son. “We left [for Kyiv] with the idea that we would see him again after months away. We were hoping he would still be able to recover, but sadly that wasn’t the case,” Mirjam told AD.
“Of course I would have loved to have seen him married, have children and maybe grandchildren. But this was his life purpose. I know it was genuine and that he was happy. He told us he would be at peace if he died. I have to accept that.”
The impact of Galli’s death was not lost on Winterswijk Mayor Joris Bengevoord. “Every casualty in this war is one too many. It is very sad that this happened. We sympathize with the family.”
His Dutch mother and Italian father are now trying to make arrangements to bring his body first from Kyiv to the Netherlands. From there, they hope to eventually bury him at their family cemetery in Italy.