Georgian Legion (1941–45)
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The Georgian Legion (German: Georgische Legion, Georgian: ქართული ლეგიონი, kartuli legioni) was a name of a Georgian military formation within the German army during World War II. Their established aim was the restoration of Georgia's independence from the Soviet Union.
During the Second World War, the Wehrmacht's ethnic Georgian Legion was formed from émigrés living in Western Europe after the 1921 Soviet invasion of Georgia, combined with Soviet prisoners of war of Georgian origin who were enlisted, while facing certain death from starvation, disease, forced labor and brutality in POW camps.
Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941, though they never reached Soviet Georgia. The Georgian Legion was formed in December 1941. The Georgians trained in western Ukraine and became operational in the autumn of 1942. At least 30,000 Georgians served in the German armed forces during World War II. The Georgians served in thirteen field battalions of up to 800 men, each made up of five companies. Georgians were also found in the Wehrmacht's North Caucasian Legion and in other Caucasian ethnic legions. The Georgian military formations were commanded by Shalva Maglakelidze, Michel-Fridon Zulukidze, Col. Solomon Nicholas Zaldastani and other officers formerly of the Democratic Republic of Georgia (1918–21).
This venture was largely hampered by the intervention of Alfred Rosenberg. Adolf Hitler himself was greatly suspicious of the Georgian and other Soviet battalions. Across Europe, especially in Italy and France, few Georgian soldiers of the Wehrmacht deserted and joined local Resistance movements. Alexander Nikuradze, Michael Achmeteli, and some other Georgian scholars were held in high esteem in Germany.
As a result of Hitler's distrust of Osttruppen ("Eastern Troops"), some Georgian battalions were moved west to occupation duties in the Netherlands. With the western allies driving into Germany, the 822 Georgian battalion, stationed on the Dutch island of Texel, rebelled against their German overlords. The resulting battle, known as the Georgian uprising on Texel, continued from April 5, 1945 past the general German surrender, until May 20. This event is sometimes described as Europe's last battle.
In accordance with inter-Allied agreements, all Soviet citizens were to be repatriated, by force if necessary, to the Soviet Union. The Soviets treated those who wore German uniforms, such as those in the Georgian Legion, as traitors. They were punished upon their return, with many exiled to Siberia or Central Asia.
List of Georgian units in the Wehrmacht
List of Georgian units in the Wehrmacht (does not include Georgian Abwehr, SS1 and Luftwaffe)
- 795 Battalion "Shalva Maglakelidze"
- 796 Battalion.
- 797 Battalion "Giorgi Saakadze"
Fighting: 1943/44 in France
- 798 Battalion
Fighting: 1943/44 in France 1945 in Germany
- 799 Battalion
Fighting: 1943/44 in France, 1945 in Germany
- 822 Battalion
- 823 Battalion
- 824 Battalion
1 SS Waffengruppe "Georgien" was formed on December 11, 1944 and commanded by Waffen-Standartenfuhrer der SS Michail Pridon Tsulukidze
- Lang, page 259.
- Lang, page 260.
- Tetri Giorgi
- Bergmann Battalion
- Union of Georgian Traditionalists
- Georgian Uprising of Texel
- The Georgian Legion (1914-1918)