Last edited by Nick VR; 07-26-2008 at 09:09 PM.
I had read about this story before, but the extra details and pics in this thread are excellent. Great stuff!
First of all I would like to thank Cees for his excellent work ! You did a great job so keep up the good work !
Second : Yes the real intention of the Georgians was to save their own skin (a natural reaction-I believe).
It's easy to judge those people nowdays, but what would we all do in such a tragic situation ???
If we want too understand their situation, we should take a look in the past, to start in the Year 1921 :
In February 1921 Georgia was attacked by the Red Army. The Georgian army was defeated and the Social-Democrat government fled the country. On February 25, 1921 the Red Army entered capital Tbilisi and installed a puppet communist government led by Georgian Bolshevik Filipp Makharadze. Nevertheless the Soviet rule was firmly established only after the 1924 uprising led by Prince Kakutsa Cholokashvili (see photo), was brutally suppressed. Georgia was incorporated into the Transcaucasian SFSR uniting Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. The TSFSR was disaggregated into its component elements in 1936 and Georgia became the Georgian SSR.
Several Georgian politicians, intellectuals and military officers left Georgia for Poland and France. Immediately after the fall of the DRG, Noe Zhordania, the head of the Georgian government-in-exile, addressed the friendly nations, particularly France, Greece and Poland, to help in maintaining the professional military cadres. The government of Poland promptly responded, and from 1922 to 1924, hundreds of Georgian Junkers and officers, recommended by Zhordania’s government, were accepted in the Polish military schools. Several professional officers of the former DRG attended military training courses at the Polish army centers. Although not obligated to do so, virtually all of them were subsequently enrolled in the Polish army as contract officers. In the subsequent decade, the total number of Georgian military servicemen reached 1,000.
It was the time that the Polish leaders (especially Josef Pilsudski) came with the so called "Promethean" political idea. Its aim was to weaken the Soviet Union, by supporting nationalist independence movements of the major non-Russian peoples that lived within the borders of Russia and the Soviet Union.
Prometheism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
So first it was Poland who welcomed,trained and paid thousends of Caucasian (and other) politicians and soldiers.
In part two of my short historical overview we will see some Georgian officers who joined the Polish Army in the hope of going someday (well trained and armed) back too the Caucasus and fight for the independence of their country. Some of them had later a major role in the forming of the "German-Georgian Legions"....
I am pleased to see such a response - thanks to all of you, and didi madloba Kindzjal to bring this up and keep it alive. I enjoyed to read part 1 and I much look forward to part 2.
The museum has some very nice items related to the uprising. One of them is an officer's tunic with a BeVo Georgian armshield, and if I recall it correctly, it was suggested that it belonged to the commander of the Georgian battalion, Major Klaus Breitner. There was also some information about the airfield which was used as a camp for about 800 Dutch collaborators (NSB, SS, NSKK etc.) between August 1945 and July '47. I only made a handful of pictures (although stupidly enough not from the tunic) and shall post a couple of them. These photos show some 'hunting trophies' from a Dutch resistance fighter.
Thanks for the additional information and pictures Cees, and of course thanks to Kindzjal for starting this very interesting thread. The tunic sounds very interesting but could it really be Breitners tunic?, if I read the book Sondermeldung Texel it seems that he is not very keen on what happened on Texel and got a strong aversion towards the Georgians.
Although Germany announced free passage from Poland for any foreigners, none of the Georgian officer left the country in September 1939 and several of them commanded their own regiments composed of Polish soldiers. The most notable officers were:
Zakaria Bakradze, general, deputy commander of the Polish 15th Infantry Division.
Aleksandre Chkheidze, general, deputy commander of the Polish 16th Infantry Division.
Aleksandre Koniashvili, general.
Kirile Kutateladze, general.
Aleksandre Zakariadze, general.
Viktor Lomidze, the commander of ORP Gryf.
Giorgi Tumanishvili, captain of the navy, who was awarded Virtuti Militari.
Valerian Tevzadze, the commander of the northern sector of the Polish defences during the siege of Warsaw.He was awarded with the Silver Cross for Military Valor. After the Red Army took over Poland, Valerian Tevzadze joined the Polish underground against the communists until his death in 1987 !
Artemi Aronishidze,major, led the 360th infantry battalion in the defense of Warsaw. “He did not retreat until the surrender of the capital to the fascists.” Aronishidze was captured by the Germans, and later handed over to the Soviet KGB. Overall amnesty saved him from capital punishment. The major, who was also awarded the Silver Cross, died at 58, in 1950
Mikheil Kvaliashvili, major, the commander of a cavalry battalion within the 15th Uhlans Regiment.
Several Georgian officers were captured by the Soviet forces during the 1939 campaign. General Chkheidze, Major Mamaladze, Captain Skhirtladze and Captain Rusiashvili were killed during the infamous Katyn Massacre.
Captain Giorgi Ratishvili a tank commander, fought until the end, jumping from one burned tank into another ! After the last tank was shot by the Soviets he was taken into captivity by a Soviet officer, who started tearing off his medals - at this moment capt. Ratisvili did hit the Soviet with all his power into the face...the Soviet officer shot him at the spot...
Many others spent several years in the gulag camps.
During the occupation of Poland, the Germans reorganized the Warsaw-based Committee of Georgia and placed it under their tight control. The occupation administration encouraged the Georgian soldiers in the Polish service to join the Georgian Legion of the Wehrmacht. Some of them responded to the Nazi request (including major B]Dimitri Shalikashvili[/B] in the rank of Sturmbannführer. After the war he went to America where his sons managed to reach the highest military positions. John Malkhaz Shalikashvili, the eldest son, was the chief of the united military headquarters of the U.S. for years in the early 90s. The younger brother is now taking active part in the Train and Equip Program conducted by the U.S. government in Georgia).
Many others joined the Legion but in fact they were working for the Polish resistance movement Armia Krajowa. A group of Georgian officers and the notable Georgian Orthodox priest and Professor Grigol Peradze (see photo) started recruiting Georgian Legionnares into the Polish resistance (several hundreds Georgians did so and left the Legions with their weapons and uniforms). Some traitor sold those officers out to the Gestapo and prince Michael Bagrationi (nephew of the head of the pro German Georgian National Commitee - Irakli Bagration-Mukhranelli) and captain Gedevan Khundadze were murdered by the Gestapo in Warsaw. Grigol Peradze ended his life in the Auschwitz concentration camp (1942), when he deliberately entered a gas-chamber instead of a Jewish prisoner who had a large family ! He was canonized by the Georgian Orthodox and Apostolic Church in 1995. The Feast Day for St. Priest Martyr Grigol is December 6.
SOLDIERS OF GEORGIA AT POLISH SERVICE
YouTube - Tribute to Georgians in Polish Service
YouTube - Poland Georgia Together Forever! Polish-Georgian Friendship
dws.org.pl • Zobacz temat - Genera?owie kontraktowi i inni obcokrajowcy w WP
Axis History Forum • View topic - Georgians in Polish Army
In part 3 we will take a look on the recruitment of former Georgian Soviet soldiers into the Legion.
I've forgotten to mention the fact, that a few years ago a monument for those Georgians who fought on the Polish side during WWII, was raised in the center of Warsaw :
Thanks for this interesting and extraordinary information regarding the Georgians, didn’t know that they also fought in the Polish army, very useful information, thanks for your effort, you must be very knowledgeable regarding this subject, pleas keep us updated/informed regarding the back ground of these Georgian volunteers, very interesting indeed.