World War II is filled with moments that seem unusual now but given how many people participated in the war, they shouldn’t come as a surprise.
One of these moments is the often unmentioned story of the Georgian uprising on the Dutch island of Texel.
For most of the war, the daily life of people on the island of Texel went mostly uninterrupted. Sure, the German forces built some bunkers and deported some men to Assen, but overall, life continued quietly on the island. That is until the Georgian Uprising on the island in April 1945.
Georgians? On Texel? As in Georgians from the state of Georgia from the Caucaz mountains? Yes indeed, this crossover episode did happen.
The Georgian soldiers present on Texel were part of 822nd Georgian infantry division. They arrived on the island in February 1945, numbering 800 soldiers. Most of them were prisoners of war who tried to escape their harsh conditions by serving the German Army. Some of them volunteered in the hopes of ousting communism in their home country.
However, it was clear that the Germans were losing the war. The Georgians were in a bit of a problem. If they returned to the Soviet Union as German allies, their co-national Stalin would have, well, do what he did best, which is a spectrum between the firing squad and the gulag. However, if they at least fought back, maybe there was a chance of glory? Or at least survival?
The uprising starts
And so they did. On April 6, 1945, the Georgians were supposed to be sent off to the front to fight the Allies. After midnight, however, the Georgians started their uprising, killing 450 German soldiers, most of whom were sleeping. The uprising went initially smooth, but then a fierce battle ensued.
The Georgians were unable to capture the north and south batteries on the island, and the Germans quickly sent reinforcements to quell the uprising. It took five weeks of heavy battles until the uprising was ended.
The battle claimed the lives of 565 Georgians, 120 Texel residents and around 800 Germans. While Germany surrendered on May 5, the battle in Texel continued until May 20, leading to the uprising being referred to as the “last battlefield in Europe.”
Most of the fallen Georgians were buried at a dedicated cemetery called Loladze on Hoge Berg. The rest of the 228 surviving Georgians were able to return home. You can go visit the cemetery in Texel and pay respects to the fallen rebellious Georgians, with the memorial even having a good ole’ hammer and sickle on it.
Did you know of this chapter in the history of the Netherlands and Texel? Let us know in the comments!
Feature Image: inyucho/Wikimedia Commons