World War II: the Georgian uprising on Texel

For most of the Second World War, the daily life of people on the island of Texel was rather uninterrupted.

Sure, the German forces built some bunkers and deported some men from Texel to Assen, but overall, life just went on as usual on the island. That is until the Georgian uprising broke out in April and May 1945.

Historical background

Georgians? On Texel? As in Georgians from the state of Georgia from the Caucasus mountains? Yes indeed, those are the Georgians we are talking about.

The Georgian soldiers present on Texel were part of the 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 in the German Army. Some of them volunteered in the hopes of ousting communism in their home country.

However, it soon became clear that the Germans would lose the war, so the Georgians found themselves in a bit of a tricky situation. If they returned to the Soviet Union as German allies, their co-national Stalin would do, well, what he did best — which is a spectrum of things between the firing squad and the gulag. But if they fought back, maybe there was a chance or glory — or survival, at least.

The uprising starts

And so they did — fight back. On April 6, 1945, the Georgians were supposed to be sent off to the front to fight the Allies. After midnight, however, they started their uprising instead, killing 450 German soldiers, most of whom were asleep. Initially, the uprising went smoothly. But then a fierce battle ensued.

The Georgians were unable to capture naval batteries in the north and south of the island, and the Germans quickly sent reinforcements to quell the uprising. It took five weeks of heavy battles until the uprising was ended.

Georgian cemetery in Texel. Image: inyucho/Wikimedia Commons/CC2.0

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.”

READ MORE | The Putten raid: when the Nazis captured almost all the men in this Dutch village

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 ol’ 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/CC2.0
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in August 2020, and was fully updated in May 2021 for your reading pleasure.

Vlad Moca-Grama
Vlad was born and raised in Brasov, Romania and came to the Hague to study. When he isn't spending time missing mountains or complaining about the lack of urban exploration locations in the Netherlands, you can find him writing at Dutch Review.

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