Kakutsa Cholokashvili

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ქაქუცა
Kakutsa
Kakutsa.jpg
Born ქაიხოსრო ჩოლოყაშვილი
July 14, 1888
Matani, Kakheti, Russian Empire
Died June 27, 1930
Leuville-sur-Orge, France
Cause of death
Tuberculosis
Resting place
Mtatsminda Pantheon
Nationality Georgian
Occupation Guerilla, soldier
Years active As guerilla,1920s-1924
Home town Matani

Kaikhosro Cholokashvili (Georgian: ქაიხოსრო ჩოლოყაშვილი, French spelling: Kakoutsa Tcholokachvili), commonly known as "Kakutsa" (ქაქუცა, a hypocorism of Kaikhosro) (July 14, 1888 – June 27, 1930), was a Georgian aristocrat and military commander and is now regarded as a national hero of Georgia. Formerly a Colonel in the armies of Imperial Russia and of the Democratic Republic of Georgia and a World War I veteran, he led, in the early 1920s, guerrilla resistance against the Bolshevik regime established by the Soviet Russian Red Army in 1921. After the unsuccessful 1924 August Uprising against the Soviet Union, during which Cholokashvili commanded the largest single unit of the insurgent forces, he fled to France, where he later died of tuberculosis. His remains were moved to the Mtatsminda Pantheon, Tbilisi, Georgia, in 2005.

Early life and career[edit]

Cholokashvili was born into the prominent aristocratic family of Prince Ioseb Cholokashvili on the family estate at Matani in the eastern Georgian region of Kakheti (which was then part of the Tiflis Governorate, Imperial Russia). Russian administrative documents spell his name "Челокаев" (Chelokayev). He graduated from the Tiflis Gymnasium for the Nobility in 1907 and enlisted in the imperial Russian army. After having served in the Tver Dragoon Regiment, he left the army in 1912 and returned to Georgia, where he married Princess Nino, née Meghvinetukhutsesi, in 1913. With the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, he was recalled to active duty and assigned to lead a cavalry squadron on the Austro-Hungarian front. Wounded later that year, he was transferred to the Caucasus Front. During the Battle of Sarikamish in December 1914, he commanded a cavalry squadron within the corps led by General Gabashvili and distinguished himself by capturing and defending the strategic "Eagle's Nest" against the overwhelming Ottoman troops. He was severely wounded again and was awarded a golden saber for his valor. After treatment at the St. Nino Hospital in Tbilisi, he was enlisted in the nascent Georgian Cavalry Legion which marched into Iran as part of General Baratov's 1915 expedition and made a raid into Mesopotamia, where he joined the British expeditionary forces in 1916.

After the Russian Revolution of 1917, Cholokashvili returned to Georgia and became involved in Georgia's independence movement. He joined the National Democratic Party of Georgia in mid-1917 and helped organize national cavalry units early in 1918. On May 26, 1918, Georgia declared its independence as the Democratic Republic of Georgia. Promoted to Colonel, Cholokashvili commanded a cavalry division in the wars against Armenia (1918), Russia (1921), etc. He also briefly served as Deputy Defense Minister in 1919.

Partisan leader[edit]

Colonel Kakutsa Cholokashvili is venerated as a Georgian national hero.
Kakutsa Cholokashvili (right) and Gen. Giorgi Kvinitadze (left)

The Soviet invasion of Georgia in early 1921 led to the fall of independent Georgia and to the establishment of the Georgian SSR, ruled by a Bolshevik Revolutionary Committee (Revkom). Cholokashvili did not follow many of his compatriots into exile, and instead withdrew up into the mountains to organize guerrilla resistance against the new regime. In March 1921, he led a small partisan group called "The Conspirators of Georgia", which engaged in a series of skirmishes with the Red Army and Cheka units in his native region of Kakheti. After a clash at Sighnaghi in June 1922, Cholokashvili moved to the mountainous district of Khevsureti, where he rallied the local population against the Soviet government. The Red Army, supported by aviation, overran the area, but Cholokashvili managed to escape to neighboring Chechnya whence he made an inroad into Georgia in November 1922. His brother, Simon, was killed in action, while members of his family were arrested; his father-in-law was later executed by the Cheka.

The most intense fighting erupted during the August Uprising in Georgia in 1924, the banner of which was entrusted to Cholokashvili. He took the town of Manglisi, west of the capital Tbilisi, in a surprise attack on August 29, but was unable to be reinforced, and then moved to the mountains north of Tbilisi, where he seized control of the town of Dusheti and crushed Red Army units at Svimoniant-Khevi on September 3. The uprising essentially failed, and was brutally suppressed. Cholokashvili refused to surrender and tried in vain to organize a sortie towards Tbilisi on several occasions. He fought his last engagement at Khev-Grdzela in Kakheti in mid-September, whence he was able to escape unbeaten despite being vastly outnumbered by the Red Army and under artillery fire. The partisan forces under his orders were exhausted, and Cholokashvili was forced to flee to Turkey where he was joined by several emigrants and moved to France.

He lived a hard life in France and died of tuberculosis in 1930. Buried initially at the Cimetière de Saint-Ouen, his body was moved a few years later to the cemetery of Leuville-sur-Orge, the main cemetery of the Georgian emigration to France.

Legacy[edit]

Prince Cholokashvili's gravestone in Tbilisi

Cholokashvili's name was banned during the 70 years of Soviet rule. Following the growth of national Georgian sentiment in the late 1980s, he re-emerged as a major symbol of Georgian patriotism and national resistance to the Soviet authorities, and his portraits were held aloft during protest gatherings. Public interest in his person further increased after his most trusted friend and comrade in arms, Alexandre Sulkhanishvili, returned from exile, bringing Kakutsa's famous banner of rebellion back to Georgia in 1990.

Georgian 200-lari banknote featuring Cholokashvili's portrait

On November 20–21, 2005, Cholokashvili's remains were re-buried at the Mtatsminda Pantheon, Tbilisi, in the presence of high-ranking officials and of thousands of Georgians from around the country. His portrait graces Georgia's 200-lari banknote, and a street in Tbilisi's prestigious Vake district was renamed after him (somewhat ironically, as the Russian embassy is located on this street).

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  • (Georgian) Sharadze, Guram; Gverdtziteli, Guram (ed., 1989) Kakutsa Cholokashvili. Tbilisi.
  • "Kartuli Idea-The Georgian Idea" by Dr. Levan Z. Urushadze, (2008).
  • Urushadze, Levan Z. (2006), For the biography of Kaikhosro (Kakutsa) Cholokashvili.- "Amirani", XIV-XV, Montreal-Tbilisi, pages 147-166, ISSN 1512-0449 (in Georgian, English summary).
  • Mikaberidze, Alexander (2007), Kakutsa Cholokashvili. The Dictionary of Georgian National Biography.