Letters to the editor
GEORGIA AND THE SOVIETS
Ministerial Verdicts Recalled
To the Editor of the Times
It is the luck of the Soviets that when to all appearance they have almost succeeded in their plan, and secured from the present British government a promise, however conditional, of money and power and another lease of life, that a crime of theirs should so inopportunely arise to confront them.
For crime it was—the murder of the little Caucasus state of Georgia; and by the irony of chance our authority for this statement is the present Prime Minister of Great Britain who, with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, is to-day commending to us a Treaty, and even a loan, for the same savage junta who are cynically repeating in 1924 the very brutalities which Mr. Ramsay MacDonald and Mr. Phillip Snowden denounced so scathingly from 1921 to 1923.
It was in 1920 that the Georgian Government invited the whole world, and the Socialist world in particular, to come to the Caucasus and see how well she was governed. Her political independence had been recognized by the Soviet Russia in May. That autumn the Government formed by the Social Democratic Party sent out its invitations, and amongst the British delegates who responded and took the great journey were Mr. Tom Shaw, now Labour Minister, and Mr. Ramsay MacDonald, Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary.
Hear, then, from the strictest gospellers of the Socialist faith the blessings passed on the little State: “It was to the strains of “l’Internationale.” and under the gaze of portraits of Karl Marx, that we disembarked at Batum,” writes Mr. MacDonald in the Labour Leader in October, 1920. “We felt immediately at home. The B.L.P. is as well known at Tiflis as in Glasgow, and better appreciated by the Georgian government than by some of its own groups.”
This and all that follows had been obtained by the very latest constitutional methods. The elections were conducted according to the best formulae of Proportional Representation, and 102 Social Democrats had been returned in Parliament of 130
The big landowners have been dispossessed; the forests, railways, and mines nationalized… The foundations of nationalization without bureaucracy have been laid… The Socialism of Georgia is as complete as that of Russia or elsewhere.
And Mr. MacDonald ringingly concludes:–“There exist no more solid barrier against Bolshevism to-day than the Socialist Government of Georgia. (The Nation, October 16th, 1920).
And so, and so. The burden of the Press campaign delivered that autumn was to insist upon the immediate recognition of this Georgian Government as the ruler de jure of the Georgian State. And it was done. Full recognition was granted by Great Britain in January 1921. The next step claimed was the admission of Georgia into the League of Nations. But Georgia was not allowed to exist long enough. The Soviets, who today need our money so much, needed the oil of Baku more. It was in February, 1921, when the ink was scarcely dry on some of these eloquent articles, that the blow fell.
The Red Armies crossed the Georgian frontier without declaration of war, menacing the country with pillage and massacre. Denials were issued from Moscow which succeeded for the moment in sufficiently bamboozling the Internationalist Socialist Conference then sitting at Vienna (end of February, 1921) to prevent the indignant protests from that body for which the Georgians had confidently hoped. The Labour Party, however, telegraphed its “profound regret” at “the news of the invasion of the Independent Socialist State of Georgia” and later stated, at Brighton. “its conviction that elections free from all military pressure would be permitted to the Georgian people.”
The Russians, however, had got what they wanted. In June, 1921, accordingly, they abolished Georgian control of foreign trade and set up a single Foreign Trade Department for Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Even after the invasion protests did not die away all at once. In June 1921, Mr. MacDonald commented most acidly upon the situation in his weekly article in Forward.
“Georgia to-day is government by a Revolutionary Committee, nominated by the Council of Commissaries set up by the army of invasion towards the end of February last. They have destroyed every vestige of representative government, including municipal councils and trade union organizations, like the Tiflis Soviet, which I saw in working operation.
Every Socialist who is still alive is “suspect.” In Batum, Kutais and Poti there are 1,000 in goal for being Socialist or trade unionists. Freedom of Press and speech does not exist.
This is the kind of crime that finds both apologists and defenders amongst our “Left” in this country. To the Socialist it must be a crime a wanton piece of military aggression, something which he must do everything he can to undo.”
Even so recently as last year, Mr. Snowden in the House of Commons asked the Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs:
“If he is aware of the executions and persecutions of the Georgian people which are being carried out by the Bolshevist Government, which has invaded Georgia and overthrown the democratic Government of that country, &c.: and whether, in view of the recognition of the independence of Georgia by the Allied Governments and the League of Nations, the British Government can take any action by diplomatic methods to influence the Moscow Government to stop its present action in Georgia.”
Mr. Ronald McDeill, admitting the accuracy of the facts, pleaded the uselessness of attempting to influence the Soviet Government by diplomatic methods when unaccompanied by pressure, such as in this case the British Government had no means of exercising. Mr. Snowden, however, almost envisaging the present situation went on:
“Should the question of the recognition of the Soviet Government arise, will the British Government, in considering the matter, insist, in the conditions of recognition, that the independence of these States should be recognized? (My italics) (Hansard, 17/7/23.)
Words, words, words, apparently. And so, too, the uncompromising declaration of our present Foreign Secretary in the Contemporary Review of February, 1921:
“There are rumors in the Near East of a restoration of Imperial Russia, of returning Azerbaijan and Georgia to that sovereignty, of placing Armenia under that sovereignty. The stupidity of these designs, from our point of view (which is also the point of view of peace and security), is so manifest that one can adamantly believe that our Foreign Minister could do other than reject them as sons phrase.”
Only a fortnight ago at Geneva, with the renewed insurrection in the Caucasus, the unhappy problem arose again. Again it was met with words. A pious resolution recommended, we are told, to the Assembly by Mrs. MacDonald and Herriot, urging the League to “Watch” the situation, and to take any opportunity of restoring peace, was tabled. Even that promptly evoked the accustomed snarl from Moscow that this sort of thing was an intolerable interference with its internal affairs.
But—the case is altered, in that this very Government of Moscow is now knocking at our doors for capital to pursue its many enterprises, among which no doubt, the renewed subjugation of its neighbor states takes a prominent place. Is it credible, is it conceivable, that the campaign for the granting of this money is to be led by men so firmly convinced of the iniquity of the acts which it will be used to foster as the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Minister of Labour, and the Prime Minister and Secretary for Foreign Affairs!
I am, &c.,
WALTER ELLIOT. (MP for Glasgow Kelvingrove)
March 21th, 1922
To the editor of The Times
Among the conditions laid down at the Cannes Conference concerning the invitation of the Government of Soviet Russia to the Conference of Genoa is one (clause 6) by virtue of which this government must abstain from any aggression against its neighboring states.
On January 21, 1921, the Supreme Council recognized the independence of Georgia de jure. Previous to this, on May 7, 1920 the Moscow Government signed a treaty with Georgia whereby they recognized complete independence and sovereignty of the GeorgianRepublic and renounced for ever the right of interference in her internal affairs. In spite of this Treaty, the armies of Soviet Russia, without any formal declaration of war or any pretext whatsoever invaded Georgia on Febryary 11-12, 1921.
Thanks to overwhelming superiority, both in number and technical equipment, and to the help of the Angora Government, the Bolshevists, defeating the Georgian Army, seized Tiflis and towards the end of March, occupied Georgia. The Georgian Government found themselves compelled to leave the territory of the Republic. From this moment, Georgia came under military occupation—a situation analogous to that of Belgium, Serbia and the Northern departments of France during the World War.
The democratic institutions of the State were annulled, the independence of Georgia and the political freedom of the population abolished. Power now is in the hands of the so called “Revolutionary Committee” appointed from Moscow, and composed of the late employees of the Moscow Soviet Government, who entered Georgia in the wake of the Russian armies.
These armies are the sole forces of the “Revolutionary Committee,” governing the country by a regime of merciless terror. This so called “Government” of Soviet Georgia remains absolutely foreign to the Georgian people, being opposed by all political parties of Georgia and all classes of society.
If conditions set forth at the Cannes Conference are not empty words, they must imply Russia’s obligation to withdraw her armies from Georgia and restore the Georgian people their right of self-determination. It should be pointed out here that the very interest of Europe and peace of the world demand the application to Georgia of Clause 6 of the Cannes Conference.
(1) If Europe bears in silence the crying injustice committed against Georgia by the Government of Soviet Russia then this will mean the sanctioning of the right of any great power to attack its neighbors and seize their territory;
(2) While the Moscow armies are in Georgia, that is, on the frontiers of Asia Minor, there will be no peace in the Near East for, possessing Georgia, the Bolsheviks are practically the masters of Angora.
(3) Until the restoration of independence of Georgia and also of the other Transcaucasian Republics, there will be anarchy in Transcaucasia, which will undoubtedly hinder the economic development of this very rich country.
These are the considerations which impel the Georgian people and their representatives abroad to hope that the Great Powers, and in particular the Great Britain, will, in accordance with Clause 6 of the Cannes Conference, demand from the Bolsheviks the withdrawal of their armies from Georgia.
It is apparent that it would be advantageous to the study of the problem in all its aspects that the voice of Georgia should be heard prior to the Conference of Genoa, that is, the voice of her legal Government, elected by the people, and even in exile retaining unbroken connection with, and confidence of, their country.
President of the Georgian National Government
The Manchester Guardian (predecessor of The Guardian)
June 15, 1923
RUSSIA AND GEORGIA
To the Editor of the Manchester Guardian
Sir, — The reply of the Russian Government to Lord Curzon’s Notas is accepted by yourself and others as fairly satisfactory, and there seems a good chance that comparatively friendly relations between Russia and this country will not be resumed, so it appears a good opportunity to bring to the notice of both peoples the condition to which the State of Georgia has been reduced under Soviet rule, and to call upon the Russian Government to reconsider their policy in the territory which they claim to have latterly re-conquered and annexed.
For two reasons I am perhaps better fitted to speak on the subject than most English people, because I am very well acquainted with that beautiful and fertile country lying just south of the Caucasus, and because I was present when the troops and other agents of the late Tsar were stamping down the attempt of the Georgians to recover their ancient freedom in 1906 and 1907. Atrocious as the treatment of a singularly fine and intelligent people at the hands of the Russians then was, everything that I hear from Georgians now proves that their present treatment is more atrocious still.
The Supreme Council, or the Ambassadors who succeeded the Council, may perhaps remember that in January, 1920, they acknowledged Georgia as de facto independent, and in January, 1921, they acknowledged her as de jure independent. The memory may not trouble them, and their decisions made little difference, for in February ,1921. The Russian forces invaded the country and re-conquered it in spite of the vigorous resistance offered by ill-armed and untrained inhabitants. The Russian troops have remained in possession ever since, and the population have been reduced to apparent submission by methods partly political, partly barbarous. The Georgian Parliament has been dissolved. The Georgian Constitution, with its democratic form and universal suffrage, has been abolished. So have the rights of free speech, free press, and free association. So have the law courts, the place of which is taken by “Tchekas,” which arrest try, condemn, and execute in secret: and lately a body called the Caucasian Bureau reigns supreme in Tiflis. This Bureau and the Tchekas arrest, imprison, exile, and execute without trial. Many Georgians are sent to Russian prisons in Murmansk, Jaroslav, and the famine districts on the Volga. The prisons in Tiflis itself have been vastly increased, large public buildings known to me in old days being now transformed into goals, and in these young students are tortured to madness. In one night last February 92 prisoners were executed (they are lined up, face to wall, and shot in the back of the head). Just before the Georgian Day of May 26, 800 were arrested, and when a Georgian is arrested no one knows what comes of him or her. I hear now that another 80 are waiting in Tiflis ready to be sent to Russian prisons, where they will disappear.
All priests are persecuted. The Katholikus of the Georgian Church (which is identical with the Russian or Orthodox in doctrine) was lately arrested in his palace by agents of the Tcheka, and is reported to have answered to his persecutors: “My soul to God; my heart, to Georgia; for my body I do not care!” The famous ancient monasteries are converted into clubs, and in these clubs children are trained to act as spies. Russian troops are quartered among the Georgian villages, and the peasants are ground down by requisitions for their maintenance. One of the latest acts of bloodthirsty tyranny was reported by the “Times” special correspondent, who telegraphed from Constantinople on June 1 that among the fifteen officers shot on May 23 were General Prince Constantine Abhazi and two other General Princes of high distinction, one of whom was actually in command of a Russian division. I cannot speak for the other two, but Abhazi was a man of known honour and integrity. He organised a brigade of guns for the allies in Western Galicia during the war, and then a Georgian Legion, which joined the British in Mesopotamia. He was not a party man (the “Times” correspondent is mistaken in calling him president of the National Democratic party), but he was appointed Chief of Stores under the Russian Government in Tiflis till compelled to resign owing to the general corruption and incapacity of his Russian subordinates. Probably it was his honesty that caused his execution.
Bad as the condition of the Georgian people was under the Tsars, who by treaty were pledged to leave them independent, it is now evidently far worse, and if the Russian Government wish to retain such sympathy as they may still possess in this country I think their attention should be called to the abominations of this despotism.—Yours, &c.,
HENRY W. NEVINSON.
See : the French publication “le problème géorgien” in the website : premiererepubliquedegeorgie.com
- April 1921-1923: Resist the iniquitous invader – Give voice to free Georgia
- 1924-1925: National Insurrection; Struggle of influence in the international spheres in order to preserve the right of independent Georgia when the Powers prepared the admittance of the USSR by the League.
- 1926-1933: War of position: political forums, publications, murders; conflicts in the Georgian CP.
- 1934-1939: Russia admitted then expelled by the League of Nations
- 1940-1954: The Second World War and the Georgian question before the new world order.
Resist the iniquitous invader – Give voice to free Georgia
April – December 1921
At the beginning of the month of April 1921, the National Legal Government of Georgia, presided over by Noe Jordania, arrived in Paris, to settle there in exile. Surrounded by the representatives of the various Georgian political parties, the national Government thereafter remained the centre of defense of its country’s rights abroad. The first task of the government was to inform foreign countries and public opinion of the events which had taken place in Georgia.Memorandum April 1921.
10 April: the Georgian Social Democratic Party’s Central Committee organized a public meeting, authorized by the occupying troops. 3,000 people took part. Publication of a motion by the Social Democratic Party where is asserted:
- Our political line remains broadly the same as previously: toward socialism through democracy.
- Georgia’s independence remains one of the basis of the social-democrat party’s action, and this action will tend, as before, to strengthen it.
- Given Georgia’s abnormal and difficult circumstances we wish that the Worker’s International amicably intervene in the inner relationships within the Georgian working class.
- We would like that the two currents existing in the European Labour movement – Socialist and Communist – form a joint committee under whose control would be held in Georgia a free vote which would reflect the will of the workers of the country.
11 April: arrival in Marseille (France) of the hospital ship, the Bien Hoa, carrying the “Georgian State’s Treasure.” This transport, decided by the National Government in order to preserve the National Treasure of pillage and looting, took place originally in Batumi on the ship Ernest Renan. Later, the boxes containing the Treasury were transferred to the Bien Hoa in Constantinople.
« On April 11, 1921, the Banque de France in Marseille received from the Commander of the “Bien-Hoa”, two hundred and thirty-six boxes. The Commander declared that they contained the Georgian Treasure. Most of the seals affixed on these boxes are broken.
They were numerically identified in the presence of:
MM. Ekutime Takaïchvili, Vice-President of the Constituent Assembly of the Democratic Republic of Georgia,
Joseph Eligoulachvili, Under-Secretary of State for the Ministry of finance, trade and industry of the Democratic Republic of Georgia,
Zourab Avalichvili and André Decanosi, Delegates of Georgia,
Done at Marseille in duplicate, on April 11, 1921
The Director » (Source: Banque de France)
On April 1921, the Ministry of finance sent a letter to the Governor of the Banque de France and also a copy of the French Prime Minister’s letter, Aristide Briand, to Akaki Tchenkeli, the Plenipotentiary Minister of Georgia in France. That letter to A. Tchenkeli stated, in particular:
« I have the honor to inform you that the French Government does not consider appropriate to participate in this inventory. The French Government considers that it is a deposit made by the Georgian Government to which it will be returned, as soon as asked, in the form and in the same condition as now. As duly accredited Georgian representative in Paris, you can remove it whenever you wish, and to this end I give the appropriate instructions to the Banque de France.” (Source: Banque de France)
14 April: Lenin’s letter to the Comrades Communists of. Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia.
20 April: forced unification of the Transcaucasian railways. Opposition from the Georgian leaders.
21 April: decree introducing the Council of People’s Commissars.
April-May: extreme political tension. After an initial period of tolerance, the repression against opponents is beginning. In May, the occupying troops arrest more than 2000 members of the Social Democratic Party.
12 May: on behalf of the legitimate Government of Georgia, the Georgian Legation in France (which opened on 25 February 1921 in Paris) sends to Eric Drummond, Secretary General of the League of Nations, the documents related to the invasion of Georgia and requests that the issue of the invasion and occupation of Georgia by Soviet Russia be placed on the agenda for the next session.
21 May: establishment of the Soviet Republic of Abkhazia whose creation removed 1/8 of Georgian territory.
10 June: the representatives of the four governments of Caucasia in exile, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Northern Caucasus, create the “Joint Committee for independence”.
13 June: on behalf of the legitimate National Government, the Georgian Legation in Paris appeals to the Council Chamber of the League of Nations, to consider the documents previously provided.
June: the occupation forces organize a public meeting in Kutaisi. To increase interest, organizers gave to this meeting the format of a trial. After the indictments of the Communist speakers, who acted like prosecutors accusing the President of the Government of the Democratic Republic of Georgia Noe Jordania of all crimes, the public had to give its verdict. The following sentence was unanimously pronounced: « Trust to Jordania, capital punishment for Lenin ». « La Géorgie sous la domination des armées bolchévistes ». See: Edition de la Présidence de l’Assemblée Constituante de la République Géorgienne. October 1921. The arrests began at the end of the meeting, launching a new wave of repression.
5 July: Stalin, one of the People’s commissars, is insulted by the crowd in Tbilisi: more than 5000 workers attended the meeting. The Stalin’s first words, congratulating the workers for having shaken the menshevik yoke, unleashed the indignation of the assistance: « Lies l There was no menshevik yoke here! There was no Communist revolution in Georgia! Your troops have removed our freedom! ». In contrast,« standing ovations greeted Alexander Dguebouadze’s and Isidore Ramichvili’s speeches (…). This failure led Stalin to decree a change of the head of Government. Makharadzé, who fulfilled the post of President of the Council of People’s Commissars, was succeeded by Boudou Mdivani. It was then that the Bolshevik terror increased ». See: « La Géorgie sous la domination des armées bolchévistes ». Edition de la Présidence de l’Assemblée Constituante de la République Géorgienne. October 1921.
From July to December, the Georgian PC is divided. The Government is opposed to Ordjonikidze’s centralist policy, as the leader of Kavbjuro (Caucasian Bureau).
7 August: 3449 workers of Tbilisi sign an appeal to European Labour organizations. After having described all the horrors of which they are victims under the foreign domination, they write: “we report to you all this, dear comrades, in the conviction that you’ll raise your voice for the defence of a brotherly people against the violences of barbarism / Rush in to help us. See for yourself the oppressed Georgian workers’life / To that end, send delegates, even European Communists, on whose behalf countless horrors have been made against us/ We expect your fraternal words, your fair verdict. “(«La Géorgie sous la domination des armées bolchévistes». Edition de la Présidence de l’Assemblée Constituante de la République Géorgienne. Octobre 1921).
12 August: Aristide Briand, the French President of the Supreme Council of the Allied Powers, receives Akaki Tchenkeli and Avetis Aharonian coming to plead the cause of the independence of their respective countries.
August: the former head of the social-federalist party drawn to the new power, Tedo Glonti, specifies the rules for elections to be held in December: « the Social Democratic Party and other anti-Bolshevik Parties cannot participate in the elections. »
29 August: a new memorandum , signed this time by Evgueni Gueguetchkori, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the National Government of Georgia, reiterates the formal request of May to the League.
2 September: appeal to all the peoples of the Western world adressed by the President of the Government of the Republic of Georgia (Noe Jordania) together with the President of the Constituent Assembly (Karlo Tcheidze) :
1 / to send in Georgia emergency aid of food and drugs,
2 / and reminding the duty of the free peoples to raise their voices in order to help the Georgian people to get rid of the invaders.
September: the General Assembly of the League of Nations issued a vote of protest and denunciation against the invasion and occupation of Georgia by the Soviet Red Army troops, and recalls that the National Government of Georgia seeks the assistance of bodies set up by the League to combat hunger and epidemics in the world. Unfortunately, neither decision nor resolution were adopted.
October : Publication in Paris of “La Géorgie sous la domination des armées bolchévistes” – Edition de la Présidence de l’Assemblée Constituante de la République Géorgienne. This publication makes a fully documented sum up of the immediate post-occupation period of Georgia.
The chapter “Suppression of freedom” recalls that 600 members of the Georgian Social Democratic Party are imprisoned and, among them, the most esteemed men of the country: Silvester Djibladze, one of the founders of the party; Alexandre Lomtatidzé, Vice President of the Constituent Assembly; Grigol Lordkipanidzé, vice-president of the Council in N. Jordania’s office; Isidore Ramichvili, Member of the first Duma; Guérassim Makharadze, Member of the second Duma, sentenced to hard labour, liberated by the 1917 Revolution, and then dispatched by the Republic of Georgia to the Russian Government; Guizo Andjaparidze, President of the Council (soviet) of Batumi, then Mayor of the city during the independence; David Oniachvili, Minister of Agriculture in N. Jordania’s office; Noe Tsintsadze, under-Secretary of State of the Ministry of Public instruction; Vlassa Mgueladze, one of the oldest socialist activists of the country that he represented several times in international congresses; Grigol Ouratadze, Member of the Constituent Assembly, having signed on behalf of Georgia the peace treaty of May 7, 1920 with Russia; Alexander Dguebouadzé, organizer of the People’s Guard and Tbilissi workers’ favorite speaker ; Zakharie Guruli, leader of the Tchiatouri miners.
December: the occupying authorities decide to conduct the elections. The Social Democratic party issues a call for the boycott of the elections, echoed by all non-communist parties.
3 December: start of the elections. They will last until December 8 in Tbilisi, Kutaisi and Batumi. They are boycotted by more than 70% of the electorate.
22 December: in Georgia, publication of two decrees regulating the rural elections and conferring the right to vote to any individual located on Georgian territory as well as to the members of the Red Army.
January 7: beginning of the elections. Overwhelming boycott. The Russian soldiers, Cheka agents and non-Georgians residents travel to the countryside and vote instead of the population. Searches and arrests in the entire district of Tbilissi, then exile
Authorized candidate lists are exclusively Communist. In the face of general discontent, candidates with no political party affiliation were added, a favor extended to Tedo Glonti’s group. Results: 351 elected: 305 Communists, 36 without party affiliation and 10 from Tedo Glonti’s group.
January: the Cannes Conference rejects the presence of Georgia at the Genoa Conference.
23 January-1 February: 1st Congress of the Georgian PC. Elected officials: Ordjonikidze, Orakhelachvili (Secretary), Makharadze, Todia, Sabachvili, Mdivani.
5 February: the Government of Moscow having rejected the proposal of the Executive Committee of the Second Socialist International to send a joint Commission in Georgia, the Central Committee of the Social Democratic Party decides to convene a clandestine party Conference.
The Conference assigns as a priority objective the restoration of independence, and to this end a coordinated action of all parties which are fighting the Bolsheviks. This is how was established the “Independence Committee” said “joint” because joining all allied parties. This Committee had to work on the basis of cooperation with the legitimate Government in exile headed by Noe Jordania « in view of the restoration of national independence following the fundamental laws voted by the Constituent Assembly of Georgia, and imbued with the democratic spirit ».
11 February: under the leadership of the Socialist Youth 60 000 young people manifest throughout the country to protest against the invasion of Georgia by the Red Army a year earlier.
The Social Democratic party publishes “Tchveni Ertoba” (Our Union).
17 February: death of Silva (Sylvester) Djibladze who, very ill, had just been released by the Cheka.
19 February: A publication of the Genoa Conference indicates that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia, « in a memorandum dated February 19th, asked the Conference (of Genoa) to invite the Moscow government to withdraw its troops from Georgia and in the event of this government being legally recognized as that of Russia, that Georgia be excluded from Russian territory. »
25 February-3 March: 1st Congress of the Soviets of Georgia. Adoption of the Constitution of the Georgia R.S.S.
12 March: Foundation of the Transcaucasian Soviet Federated Republics with Tbilisi as a capital under the name of Tiflis. The Kavbjuro becomes Zakkrajkom (regional party direction).
15 March: The steps taken by the National Government were backed by the decision of the political parties –Social-Democratic party, Democratic party, and the Social-Federalist party to which 93% of the Georgian Constituent Assembly belonged. See decision, dated March 15th.
21 March: N. Jordania’s letter about the Conference of Genoa published in The Times
April: Foundation in Paris of the “Committee for Georgia Independence” composed of the representatives of the Georgian political parties and particularly Social Democratic, National Democratic, Socialist-federalist and Revolutionary Socialist parties. Its goal: the organization of a national uprising.
The International Conference of Genoa is approaching. The claim of the Russian delegation to be representing Georgia also, greatly upset Georgian representatives abroad, the country and their friends. Diplomatic steps were taken by the National Government in defense of its country’s rights, and it was upheld in this undertaking by an appeal of all Georgian political parties existing underground in Georgia. The Head of the Georgian church himself sent a letter to the Conference.
1 April: The non-admission of Georgia at the Genoa Conference by the Cannes Conference provided an opportunity to bring up the case of Georgia before the French Parliament.
In the Chamber of Deputies, the Prime Minister, Raymond Poincare, declared: « It was therefore decided at Cannes that neither Turkey nor the States of the Caucasus should be invited. It is a serious question whether the States located south of the Caucasus are in Europe or in Asia. I shall not discuss it. I should just like to add that the French Government pointed out (…) that we had recognized legally the State of Georgia and requested that it be at least represented at Genoa. (M. Aristide Briand: That is correct!). (…) the Soviets have wished to add to the list of their delegates for Russia, some delegates from the states of Caucasus under the pretext that they were occupying these States by force. It goes without saying that since the legally recognized Georgia could not be admitted to the Genoa Conference, even more so, as we clearly stated, can Russia not be allowed to represent, herself, the States she invaded and is occupying by violence (applause from the center, the right wing and certain benches on the left).
At the end of the session, Mr. Herriot addressed the House and said « (…) I wish to ask the Prime Minister to be good enough to declare that this Government remains attached to the cause of this independence». The Prime Minister answered: « The honorable Mr. Herriot has expressed the thought of the government itself, such as it has already been expressed several times, on the State of Georgia. This Government has in fact, a representative in Paris and this representative has access to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. » « Journal Officiel of April 2nd ». Constantin Kandelaki « The Georgian Question before the Free World ». Paris 1953
2 April: in a note, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia forwarded to the International Conference of Genoa the appeal of the Head of the Georgian church, the Patriarch Ambroise, to civilized humanity, as well as an appeal to all the political parties of Georgia relative to the aspirations and state of the soul of the Georgian people. This letter of a remarkable courage expressed the unanimous feeling of the country against the forces of occupation. The patriarch was thrown in jail where he remained a long time.
April 3: Stalin, General Secretary of the Russian PC.
Spring-Summer: strong tension between the Georgian PC and Stalin.
10 April: opening of the International Conference of Genoa ending on May 19. Its aim was to normalize relationship between the European States. The diplomatic initiatives of the National Government to protect the rights of Georgia are continuing. A new support is given by the petition of all the clandestine parties from Georgia. Vlassa Mgueladze brings from Georgia a petition signed by Georgian workers denouncing the scandal of the elections, and calling for the withdrawal of Russian occupation troops.
The Conference denies to the Russian delegation the right to represent Georgia.
25 May: Lenin’s first stroke
24-25-26 May: in the cities and villages of Georgia, the Social Democratic party organizes events in commemoration of the anniversary of the independence. Ten thousands of protesters take part. At Kvirila, Samtredia, Tchokhataouri and other localities, Russian troops fire on the crowd. Numerous victims.
Start of the repression against other Georgian parties.
28 May-23 June: on behalf of the International Cooperative Alliance, Victor Serwy, Director of the “Office Coopératif belge”, conducted in Georgia an inquiry into the situation of the cooperatives. His observer mission leads him to remark that there “is a climate of hatred against the Russian tyranny” and he adds: “It would not be surprising that one day Georgia, with his profound democratic spirit, will stand up to drive away the oppressor. « Co-operative Georgia under Bolshevik Rule ». July 1922.Printed by the Cooperative Society Lucifer. Brussels.
1 June: Raymond Poincare, Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, declares once again in the Chamber of Deputies «When the Russian Government claimed to be accompanied by delegates from the governments constitued de facto in Georgia and Azerbaïdjan, under their control, the Allies objected on the basis of the Cannes resolution, which had limited the States invited to the Genoa Conference to countries situated north of the Caucasus. The French Government, which along with the other allied governments, had recognized the former Georgian government as the government de jure, cannot accept treating with a question of this nature to-day with the representatives of the powers of force, which forced the duly elected government out of Georgia. » Journal Officiel, June 2nd 1922. Constantin Kandelaki « The Georgian Question before the Free World ». Paris 1953
June: the National Government in exile chooses to acquire the property of Château de Leuville, near Paris.
June to July: cleansing campaign of the Caucasian Communist parties.
18 July: The Georgian question is brought before the British House of Commons. « M. Snowdon asked the Under-secretary of State for Foreign affairs if he is aware of the executions and persecutions of the Georgian people, which are being carried out by the Bolshevist Government which has invaded Georgia and overthrown the democratic Government of that country».
26 August: the National Government appeals to the League of Nations, under the signature of Akaki Tchenkeli, the Georgian Minister Plenipotentiary in France, who presents a memorandum for submission to the Council of the League of Nations.
Automn: partisans’uprising in Svanetie under the leadership of K. Tcholokhachvili.
In all Georgia, and in the major cities, the Social Democratic party reorganizes and develops clandestine press and actions.
15 September: The Georgian Communist Party’s Central Committee refuses Stalin’s project to empower the Republics.
20 September: From the rostrum of the League of Nations, Louis de Brouckere, the delegate of Belgium, defended the appeal of the Georgian Government and proposed, first to the Sixth Commission and then to the Third Assembly (on september 22nd) a resolution about the situation in Georgia, adopted unanimously as follows: « The Assembly of the League of Nations, having considered the situation in Georgia, invites the Council to follow attentively the course of events in this part of the world, so that it may be able to seize any opportunity which may occur to help in the restoration of this country to normal conditions by any peaceful means in accordance with the rules of international laws. » Records of the 3rd Assembly, Minutes of the 6th Committee. Constantin Kandelaki « The Georgian Question before the Free World ». Paris 1953
22 October: rejected by Lenin, the Georgian PC’s Central Committee resigns. A new central Committee is designated by the Zakkrajkom.
November 9: a secret report from the Red Army shows that in Georgia as in Azerbaijan, the highlanders attack military detachments, and that the Communist lists for the elections of the Soviets actually consists in less than 30% of the votes.
20 November: inauguration of the Lausanne Conference. The head of the Delegation of the National Government of Georgia and Minister Plenipotentiary of Georgia in France, Akaki Tchenkeli obtains the release of a note in which, on behalf of the National Government of Georgia, he opposes the declaration of the Soviet delegation headed by Chicherin who pretends to speak for Georgia. He denounces the principles inherited from the Tsarist diplomacy whose goal is to transform the Black Sea into a Russian Lake, a guarantee of Russian hegemony over all coastal states. He underlines that this project is intended to deprive the Georgian people of any means of communication with the western powers.
25 November: Felix Dzerjinski, head of the Cheka, is sent by Lenin in Georgia to examine disputes between Central Committee’s members and Ordjonikidze.
10 November: 1st Transcaucasian Congress of Soviets in Baku.
23-26 December: Lenin publishes his “Letter to the Congress”, very critical of Stalin,
30 December: Creation of the USSR, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics of Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Transcaucasia.
« The relentless struggle of all the social classes against the occupying powers brought Moscow to a relentless repression which became especially fierce from 1923 on. » D. Charachidze. « H. Barbusse, les soviets et la Géorgie ». Editions Pascal. Paris.
1 January: monetary reform. Removal of national currencies. Creation of a Transcaucasian ruble based on parity with the Georgian ruble.
Winter-Spring: Bolshevik agrarian reform. The previous agrarian reform, established by the independent Republic of Georgia, is abolished. All the lands redistributed to the peasants have to be confiscated and nationalized. The Social Democrats organize a response against this decree.
D. Charachidze indicates: «After the Socialist reform not a single large property still existed (in Georgia), therefore it was exclusively the small owners who were being dispossessed of their lands. Inspired by the agrarian conditions of the “obchtchina”, of the agrarian commune of the great Russia, accustomed to the periodic land redistribution among its members; this method is an economic nonsense for a country of small properties like Georgia. And thus, this measure met insurmountable difficulties, introducing disorder in the country and hampering productive agricultural forces. » In the spring of 1929, the People’s Commissar for Agriculture « declared at the Georgian Congress of Soviets: we should end the distribution of land in 5-6 years (Communist, no. 82) Time required « to come out of the chaos where their own policies had plunged the country. » D. Charachidzé. « H. Barbusse, les soviets et la Géorgie ». Editions Pascal. Paris
From January to February, deportation outside of Georgia of dozens of Social Democratic party leaders.
17 January: clandestine conference of the Social Democratic Party of Georgia. It endorses the establishment of the Independence Committee of Georgia and the role of the Government in exile. 26000 members are registered and 5000 with the Socialist Youth.
25 January: upon receipt of the report of Djerzinski, the Politburo of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the USSR approves Ordjonikidze’s attitude and decides to marginalize its opponents: Mdivani, Makharadze, Tsintsadze, Kavtaradze.
From January to June: « in January, then in March, April, May and June, the Extraordinary Commission (Cheka) proceeded to mass arrests with a view to seizing illegal militants of the Menshevik party (metaphorical name used for “Social-Democrat” since the split at the London Congress). The last mass arrest happened in June. » D. Charachidzé. « H. Barbusse, les soviets et la Géorgie ». Editions Pascal. Paris
February: the Chekist Oboladze is sent in Guria (western Georgia) to suppress the revolts. He orders farmers detained and killed; villages are plundered and burned. Despite his close bodyguard of 15 men, he is shot near Ozourgheti.
13 February: in retaliation, 92 prisoners, mostly Socialist activists, are shot in Tiflis.
6 mars: “disgusted by Ordjonikidze’s rudeness and Stalin’s connivance”, Lenin takes the side of the “Georgian national deviationists” (Georgian Communist oppositionist).
14 March: 2nd Congress of the Georgian PC. The oppositionists are ousted from the leadership. Vano Lominadze is elected president.
March 19: 2nd Congress of Transcaucasian Bolshevik organizations.
April 17-25: 12th Congress of Communist party of Russia. Victim of a new stroke, Lenin cannot attend. The “Georgian national deviationists” are isolated against Stalin.
May: 80 leaders and activists of the Social Democratic Party of Georgia are deported from Georgia.
20 may: General Abkhazi and 14 senior officers of the Republic, members of the military Center of the Independence Committee, are executed.
June: Mdivani is dismissed of all his duties.
July: systematic dismantling of opposition political parties.
6 July: adoption of the Constitution of the USSR.
24 July: signature of the Treaty of Lausanne, which cancels and replaces the superseded Treaty of Versailles and settles the question of the Turkish boundaries. The article 23 of the Special Provisions establishes « the principle of freedom of transit and of navigation by sea and by air, in time of peace as in time of war, in the straits of the Dardanelles, the Sea of Marmara and the Bosphorus, as prescribed in the separate Convention signed this day, regarding the regime of the Straits. » Lausanne Peace Treaty, 24 of July 1923.
July-October: to face the repression which falls on the country, creation of the conditions for an uprising by:
- the Joint Independence Committee of Georgia, based in Paris
- the opposition political parties, clandestine organizations, trade unionists, patriots, in Georgia.
10 september: Khariton Chavichvily, delegate of the National Georgian Government, presents to the Secretary General of the League of Nation a solemn appeal on the situation of Georgia. The appeal is signed by the Independence Committee of Georgia, sent from Tiflis (Tbilissi) and dated 25 May 1923.
November: arrest of Noé Khomeriki, former Minister of agriculture of the Government, illegally returned from France to organize the National uprising.
Winter-Spring: galloping inflation: nearly 1000% from January to June (it was 78% for the whole year 1922). Onset of a “scissors” crisis, so called by Trotsky to qualify the widening gap between the falling prices of agricultural products and the rising price of manufactured objects. In October, unemployment reached 29%.
Autumn-winter: Bolshevik opponents get closer to Trotsky.
The Social Democrats Irakli Tsereteli and Constantin Gvardjaladze become members of the Executive Committee of the Socialist International and will remain so until 1939.
Struggle of influence in the international spheres so that the right of independent Georgia should be preserved when the Powers prepared the admittance of the USSR by the League.
21 January: Lenin’s death
In February, Great-Britain (Ramsay MacDonald, Prime Minister) and Italy recognize the USSR with a reservation for Georgia, country legally recognized by them and whose rights are maintained and preserved.
9 February: Benia Tchkhikvichvili (former member of Parliament and Mayor of Tbilisi ) and Valiko Jugheli (Commander of the National Guard) leave Marseille in order to prepare in Georgia the national insurrection decided by the Independence Committee.
6-11 May: 3rd Congress of the Georgian Communist party.
3 July: the Socialist Group in the French Parliament sent to the Prime Minister, Edouard Herriot, a letter “On the recognition of the Soviets and the independence of Georgia”. This letter states that “The French Republic cannot (…) abandon its previous attitude towards a small country (Georgia) whose independence was universally recognized.” And suggests that the Government of the Republic declares that it recognizes fully “de jure” the Union of Soviet republics with “the reservation regarding international acts having recognized de jure the independence of the various States issued from the former Russian Empire, who have their accredited representatives with the French Government.” Edition l’Emancipatrice. Paris 1925
July: Benia Tchkhikvichvili is arrested
5 August: the Independence Committee of Georgia draws up in Tiflis (Tbilisi) a Memorandum calling upon the League of Nations which is scheduled to meet in September in Geneva
In the first days of August, Valiko Jugheli, Commander of the National Guard, is arrested and tortured by the Cheka. He will be put to death the 31, at the beginning of the insurrection
28 August in the night: outbreak of the insurrection in the mining town of Chiatura (western Georgia).
29 August: the insurrection is expanding, in an essentially rural movement, in western Georgia (Imeretia, Mingrelia, Guria, Svanetia,) and affects one-third of the total population of the country, or approx. 800,000 inhabitants. Guria farmers play a decisive role.
While the order was given to all the local Chekas to murder the defenseless prisoners, long-term detainees, the people had overthrown the Soviet authorities everywhere in the countryside, without causing any casualties. This was criticized with consummate cynicism by the Bolsheviks
«The Social Democrats showed colorless and weak, «invertebrates» who accomplished a democratic uprising in accordance with the democratic rules, and wouldn’t kill any of our comrades, although we have shot them by hundreds and even executed members of their Central Committee. » Official report upon the insurrection by Mr. Kakhiani, published on September 11 in “Rabotchaia Pravda”, Russian newspaper of Tiflis.
Benia Tchikvichvili and Noe Khomeriki – deported in Russia and incarcerated at the Suzdal prison, where they met, were driven to the GPU in Moscow at the very beginning of the insurrection and sent to Rostov to be killed. In order “to spread fear among the Georgian people, and discourage, demoralize the developing insurrection. The murder of Innocent victims is moreover the Soviet method to suppress the popular movements. But the murder of hundreds of prisoners wasn’t enough. What better way to impress the people than well-known politicians, loved and respected throughout Georgia. Khomeriki, Djougheli, and Tchkhikvichvilii were part of them (…) D. Charachidzé, « Barbusse, les soviets et la Géorgie ». Paris. Editions Pascal.
Colonel Kakoutsa Tcholokachvili with a large rebel force attacked the Red Army base southwest of Tbilisi. The fighters fight desperately but, isolated, have to withdraw in Kakheti.
The Transcaucasian Cheka let the movement run its course in the province. In Tbilisi mass arrests.
Indeed, the people of the big cities held by the Red Army cannot react. Here too, reprisals start at the very beginning of the insurrection. The occupying troops shot the hostages taken in cities or villages as the Metropolitan Nasari and 10 priests in Kutaisi. They arrest family members of the well-known personalities in the Republic used as hostages or shot for example.
September: the anti-Bolshevik opposition has been decimated. Thousands of activists were deported to Siberia. The people experience a huge trauma:
2 September: death sentence against 24 opposition leaders. All around the country mass executions.
4 September: the new insurrection general staff, Insurrection Committee of the independence Committee of Georgia, is also arrested in Chio-Mghvimi.
5 September: the arrested members (Kote Andronikashvili, Chairman of the Committee, Jason Djavakhichvili, Gogui Jinoria, Mikhael Bochorishvili, Mikhail Ichkneli, D. Oniachvili, all Social Democrats leaders), informed of the mass executions, agree to sign a call to stop the uprising and then the carnage. This text draft under pressure was immediately issued in the country, and saved hundreds of hostages from the firing squad. Judged a year later by a special court in a mock public trial, the Committee members were deported to Siberia (8 to 10 years).
5 September: transmission of the Memorandum of the Independence Committee of Georgia, together with a letter from the delegates of the National Government of Georgia to the 5th Assembly of the League of Nations meeting in Geneva.
6 september: Noe Jordania, the Président of the National Government of Georgia sent from Paris a telegram to the President of the Vth General Assembly of the League of Nations, Giuseppe Motta (Switzerland). The same cable was sent at the same time to the French Prime Minister, Edouard Herriot, and to the British Prime Minister, Ramsay MacDonald, both of them at Geneva at the time. In those telegrams, he requests that the League, an organism set up to achieve peaceful international relations, intervene to demand Moscow to stop all military action in Georgia and to submit the conflict to international arbitration.
The same day, Noe Jordania sent a telegram to the President of the Coucil of the People’s Commissars in Moscow: « In 1921, after five weeks of fighting, your troops, disregarding the treaty concluded between us, occupied Georgia which you yourselves had already recognized as independent. Since then, the Georgian people have undergone incredible persecutions, such as they have never known before in their history. Now reduced to despair they are still fighting against your power. Georgia is not fighting for the reestablishment of any particular political regime, but for the right to national self- determination and for the reestablishment of her independence. You know yourselves that Georgia will never submit to foreign domination. In the name of the Georgian people, I propose that military action be stopped and a peaceful settlement found for the Russo-Georgian conflict based on the treaties concluded between us on May 7th, 1920. At the same time, I declare that we are ready to conclude a supplementary treaty, guaranteeing your economic and commercial interests in Georgia. The President of the National Government of Georgia, Noe Jordania. Paris, September 6th, 1924 ». The proposal remained unanswered. Annexe 10 in « Documents relatifs à la question de la Géorgie devant la Société des Nations ». Edition de la Légation de Géorgie en France. Paris 1925. Translation in Constantin Kandelaki « The Georgian Question before the Free World ».
9 and 10 september: In his letters to the President of the 5th Assembly of the League of Nations, dated September 9th and 10th, Noe Jordania confirmed his request and described the reprisals taken by the Soviet authorities (shooting of 43 Georgian political prisoners, all of whom had been held by the Cheka for a long time before the insurrection).
He asked the President to inform the delegates of the League, expressing the hope that « these delegates will raise their voices with authority against the barbarous actions of the Moscow Bolshevik Government in Georgia”.
11 september: The delegations of France, Great-Britain and Belgium presented a draft resolution which they asked to have placed on the order of the day of the session of this Assembly and which would first have to go through the Commission. This draft resolution was but a renewal of the resolution voted on September 22nd, 1922 by the 3rd Assembly concerning Georgia.
Paul Boncour, delegate of France, greeted with applause by the Assembly, declared that the proposal presented by the delegations of the three powers (France, Great Britain and Belgium) was made following an agreement between the British Prime Minister, R. MacDonald, and the French Prime Minister, E. Herriot. He then added a declaration about the “League’s effort to establish justice throughout the world”.
After going through the Sixth Commission (September 20th and 22nd), in accordance with regulations, the draft resolution was returned on September 25th to the Assembly.
25 September: Edward Mortimer MacDonald (Canada) Committee Reporter of the Commission, presented the report to the Assembly. After the interventions of Professor Gilbert Murray (British Empire), and of Mr Bonin-Longare (Italy), M. de Brouckere (Belgium) and M. Bonnet (France) enthusiastic about defending the draft resolution, it was adopted unanimously.
26 September: the Delegation of the Government of Georgia sent a letter to the Council of the League of Nations reminding the request of the President of the National Government, Noe Jordania, and underlining “that it is a war between two States. One, big and powerful, seeks to crush the other, small and weak, and that the international status of Georgia cannot be changed because of a foreign military occupation”. Extract from the Letter of the Delegation. « Documents relatifs à la question de la Géorgie devant la Société des Nations ». Edition of Legation of Georgia en France. Paris 1925
The expected intervention of the European powers did not come.
The number of victims is estimated between 3000 and 5000. There are hundreds of prisoners and deported in Siberia. The repression of the insurrection will last several months. Villages are looted and destroyed. Many activists, particularly young people, take the route to exile.
Having been able to join France, K. Cholokashvili was proclaimed “national hero” by the National Government with the agreement of all political parties. His tomb was transferred from the Leuville cemetery to Mtatsminda Pantheon (Tbilissi) in 2005.
The only victory won at the end of this uneven fight was on the legal field and towards the public opinion. See Walter Elliot’s article and B.J. Wilden Hart’s article, both published in the Times – September 27th.
The national insurrection and its martyrs played a major role in providing proof that this “territory of the former Russian Empire” and its “inhabitants” did not recognize the authority of Moscow and that it was indeed the occupation by force of an independent territory, a State.
28 October: In almost the same terms as the British Government, the Government of the French Republic (Edouard Herriot, Prime Minister) recognized the USSR but in particular it was specified that: … the Government of the Republic (…) recognizes de jure from this date on, the Government of Union of Socialist Soviet Republics as the Government of the territories of the former Russian Empire “wherever its authority is accepted by the inhabitants”, and it was stipulated: “the notification of this recognition does not in any way interfere with any of the engagement made or treaties signed by France.” The reservation was made in particular with Rumania, for Bessarabia, and with Georgia.
November-December: Upon the invitation of the Soviets, a delegation of British Trade-Unions, led by Mr Purcell, visited Georgia during three days. “The publication of this report in London, and in the name of a non-communist organization defending the oppressor and trying to hide the deplorable conditions in a country occupied by foreign armed forces, arouse a feeling of indignation in all impartial readers. The Foreign Office of the Social-Democratic Party of Georgia published in this connection a booklet entitled “The British Trade-Unions delegation and Georgia”, in which was shown by irrefutable documents, the extreme deceit of the Soviets (…) with the unconsidered help of the representatives of British workmen”. Constantin Kandelaki « The Georgian Question before the Free World ». Paris 1953
Friedrich Adler, Secretary General of the 2nd Socialist International, an authority respected by British workmen as well as by Socialists all over the world, published a sharp response in 1925.
Many oppositional Communists are carted out from Georgia.
Friedrich Adler published « Concerning the account given by the British Delegation ». In the chapter about Transcaucasia and Georgia, one could find « everything to help any Imperialist government to justify a policy of conquest ».
Analyzing what the delegation wrote on the life in Georgia and what he heed – in particular the shooting of Georgian prisoners by the Bolsheviks – F. Adler protests: «In this document cunning is used to the highest degree! »
In the end, the report of the British Trade-Unions revealed disastrous for the Soviet propaganda.
When the League of Nations had entrusted to its Council « the duty of watching the situation and seizing any favorable opportunity to improve it by peaceful means in accordance with international law », it was therefore to wait for such moment.
After the repression of the National insurrection of 1924, was created in Geneva the International Committee for Georgia chaired by the Swiss, Jean Martin and Albert Malche, in order to support the legitimate demands of the independent Georgia. This Committee was created in collaboration with the representative of the Georgian National Government in exile, Khariton Chavichvili.
29 January: in the discussion concerning the Foreign Affair’s Budget, Pierre Renaudel, deputy, made a remarkable speech in the French Chamber of Deputies in favor of Georgia under the title « The independence of Georgia and the international policy of bolshevism ».
He declared: «The invasion of Georgia was premeditated. One may even say that almost at the same time as the Russian leaders were signing, if not a peace treaty, at least a trade agreement which, by its economic considerations, gave weight to the political peace treaty with Georgia, they were asking one of their generals to make a report on the conditions under which military action could be undertaken against Georgia.
This report was the very account given by the commanding officer of the 11th army, Hecker, to the President of the revolutionary military Council of the 11th army and is dated December 18th, 1920. In his report, Hecker considers the conditions under which an invasion of Georgia could take place with reasonable chances of success…»
In this lengthy speech, the national and patriotic origin of the insurrection was largely underlined:
“I now come to the August – September 1924 insurrection, about which we also have to give some explanations. ” Its natural causes first:
For the period from 1921 to 1924, I have a huge file of terror, arrests, imprisonments and shootings.
There’s a lot of evidence there, but I do not insist on this, except to say that «it is the repressive policy applied in Georgia by the Bolsheviks of Russia and those of Georgia who seized the government, which, as always, provoked the insurrections of August and September.
A man had foreseen that. A man, Lenin, who no one shall contest the authority, had indicated in a famous letter to the Bolshevist Government of Russia to try to calm down the situation. That is what he indicated in one of the documents I’ve read you before:
“It is extremely important to look for an acceptable arrangement in order to form a bloc with Jordania or with other Georgian Mensheviks like him… ”
It did not happen. There was insurrection. »
Excerpts from « L’indépendance de la Géorgie et la politique internationale du Bolchevisme ». Journal Officiel of January 30th, 1925 and Edition L’Emancipatrice. Paris, 1925
17 July: Emile Vandervelde, Belgian Foreign Minister, made a speech before the Belgian Chamber of Representatives in which he declared that he had long been in favour of the recognition of the Soviet Republic, but under certain conditions of which « First, the reservation made for the rights of governments such as those of Armenia and Georgia, which have been recognized legally by Belgium. That is how France proceeded when she recognized the Soviet Republic. » – « L’Information politique ». Paris September 19th 1925, article of Jean Georges.
August: The 3rd National Conference of the social democratic party is held secretly in Georgia, and reaffirms its trust in the National Government in exile.
29 August: Commemoration in France of the national insurrection and editorial of Noe Jordania in «Brdzola” (Fight).
September: Ordjonikidze’s report at a Bolshevik conference in Tbilisi, about the results of the inspection of Transcaucasia:
« (regarding the regulation of the agrarian question), all the Republics are in a desperate situation. The Karabakh rapporteur notes that the peasants, given the uncertainty on the point of knowing if the land they possess will remain at their disposal next year, do not provide them the due care ». «Peasants should know that such land will remain at their disposal at least two years. » (Communist, 27-29 September 1925)
25 November: The International Committee for Georgia was the first to draw the public opinion attention to an important event: the Powers, members of the League, were preparing to admit the USSR in their midst. The Professor Edgard Milhaud, Vice-President of the Committee, made a masterful report, recalling, amongst others, the latest decision of the League of Nations concerning the Georgian problem.
30 November: after hearing this account and having deliberated on the subject, the International Committee for Georgia adopted a resolution where was stipulated: « it is the imperative duty of these states, members of the League, to remind Russia, at the moment she demands her admission, to honor her own signature, so that she can only be admitted side by side with Georgia, sovereign and independent. » See: Georgia, Russia and the League of Nations. Edgard Milhaud.
The Committee communicated this resolution to the Council Members of the League and to the Governments of all the states belonging to it.
War of position: political forums, publications, murders
Conflicts in the Georgian CP
1 and 2 April: The rebellious spirit of the Georgian people, and the National Government persistent fight for the independence of Georgia even drew the attention of the countries which had not recognized the independence of Georgia before its occupation and at the same time as other powers. Such was the case of the United States of America. The question only arose on April 1st and 2nd. The Foreign Affair Committee of the House of Representatives deliberated on the Georgian question and to decide upon the nomination of a diplomatic representative to the National Georgian Republic. The various reports concerning the Georgian question were heard with great interest and sympathy. Minutes and documents were published by the Government Printing office in Washington.
6-9 April: Unified opposition (Trotsky, Zinoviev and Kamenev) in USSR.
Fast development of the left opposition in the Georgian Communist party: rallying of most of the “national deviationists”.
June 11: suicide of Carlo Tcheidze, President of the Constituent Assembly of Georgia, in Leuville sur Orge where he lived.
November: exclusion of a “Trotskyist” group by the central Committee of the GCP.
December: pan Soviet census: the SSR of Georgia has 2 677 200 inhabitants (77.8% of rural) 66.8% of them Georgians (11.7% Armenians and 8.7% Russians).
January: Arrest of Constantin Gamsakhourdia, novelist and public figure hostile to the Soviet occupation. Expelled from the Tbilisi State University after the repression of the 1924 insurrection, he is deported to the Solovki Islands where he spent several years.
May: breaking of diplomatic relations between Soviet Union and Great Britain.
Spring-Summer: the left-wing opposition, the only still tolerated, with the wind in its sails in Georgia. Considerable impact in the Komsomol.
November: violent clashes within Georgian CP: the left opposition accuses Ordjonikidze “to have prepared the ground for the 1924 insurrection.
Trotsky, Kamenev and Zinoviev are expelled from the Party (15).
2-19 December: 15th Congress of the USSR CP. Exclusion of members of the opposition members. Many exclusions in Georgia.
From 1928 to 1930, forced land collectivization. It causes to famine in certain regions and to mass deportations to Siberia of the peasants who rose up.
May 1928: publication of Henri Barbusse’s book “This is what has been done in Georgia” (Flammarion editors, Paris), praise of the Soviet Georgia.
January: Expulsion of Trotsky from the USSR. Arresting of all the Trotskyists, in Georgia too.
December: response to H. Barbusse’s book by Dathico Charachidze, Member of the Constituent Assembly of the independent Georgia, figure of the Georgian Social Democratic Party, journalist, who published in French language a book untitled “Barbusse, the Soviets and Georgia” with a preface by Karl Kautsky. Editions Pascal. Paris. 1929
In the preface, Kautsky asserted that the facts presented by D. Charachidze « speak an eloquent language, damning for Mr. Barbusse and the cause he defends ». He added that this book «reveals the situation of Georgia under the scourge of the Kremlin. »
January-February: in Georgia, the collectivization goes on facing strong resistance. The Stalin’s article, «the Vertigo of success» slows down collectivization. In Kakheti, the collectivization rate falls from 86% to 10.5%.
December: in Paris, murder of Noe Ramishvili, eminent Minister of the National Government, by an agent of Moscow.
Manhunt in Georgia against the socialist activists.
March: trial of the “counter-revolutionary” menshevik organization
January: resumption of the collectivization throughout the Union.
Peasants flee the fields and find refuge in woods and mountains. The clandestine activists of the Georgian social democratic party organize the fight. The authorities are forced to a compromise: collectivization low rate (36.4%) in Georgia, 62% in Russia. Unique in the USSR, 20% of lands remain the private property of the peasants.
Beria becomes the party “boss” for all Transcaucasus. He will lead it until 1938.
Summer-winter: food shortage in many regions of the USSR; famine in Ukraine.
30 January: Hitler appointed Chancellor of the Reich.
18 May: speech of the French socialist Deputy, Marius Moutet, during the discussion at the Chamber of Deputies following the proposition by the communist Deputy Henry Torres for a resolution relative to the mutual ratification of the Franco-Sovietic non-agression pact. M. Moutet, a friend of Georgia and Georgian socialists, recalled « we shall not cease to protest against the treatment suffered by Georgia » and added concerning the Georgian Legation « we have the right to ask our Government (…) a collective representative organization for these refugees which, although not having the official character of government, would still enable them to feel that they were not merely under police surveillance in France. » Journal Officiel May 19th 1933
June: N. Jordania publishes « The Socialist Difficulties».
July: The Georgian Legation in France shall close. Despite the recognition of the Soviet Government by France in 1924, it had been able to continue to function thanks to the benevolence of the French Government. Instead, the latter authorizes the Georgian Government in exile to open the Office for Georgian refugees.
Russia admitted, then expelled by the League of Nations
February: Beria is elected to the central Committee of the CP of the USSR.
The campaign for the admission of the USSR to the League of Nations was taking shape, the decisive hour drawing near. Public opinion was divided. The Swiss press, and first among them the « Journal de Genève » was in favour of the admission of the USSR upon condition that it fulfill the engagements it solemnly made with other States. Countless articles have appeared on this subject, written in particular by its Editor in-chief Jean Martin, also co-Chairman of the International Committee for Georgia.
The « Journal de Genève » and the Swiss press in general were not the only one to oppose the unconditional admission of the USSR to the League. They were supported by the public opinion, particularly in regard to Georgia.
19-24 May: The Assembly of the International Union of Associations for the League of Nations which met in Folkestone (Great-Britain) adopted a resolution in favour of Georgia which ended with these words : « the Assembly hereby wishes to remind the High Assembly in Geneva of the case of Georgia, so that in the event that the Soviet Russia should apply for admission to the League of Nations, the latter may use this opportunity to help, by peaceful means in conformity with the rules of international law, to restore the universally recognized sovereignty of Georgia, which was suppressed by Soviet aggression, and thus contribute to the triumph of the essential principles which are the basis of the League of Nations.»
17 September: The USSR is admitted to the League of Nations.
The small nations over-run by the Soviets expressed their feelings on this subject in a letter addressed on the very day of the admission of the Soviets into the League to Rickard Sandler, President of the 15th Assembly. This letter was signed by the representatives of Azerbaidjan (Mir Jacoub), Northern Caucasus (I. Tchoulik), Georgia (A. Tchenkeli), Turkestan (M. Tchokaï), Ukraine (A. Choulguine).
Protest of the Georgian National Government. In his declaration of February 4th 1940, Noe Jordania recalled this position « our protest, in 1934, to the League of Nations against the admission of the USSR has now been approved by the League of Nations itself, by the expulsion of the USSR from this international institution. »
Once again, the League of Nations let pass the most valuable opportunity to intervene in favour of Georgia, but public opinion continued to be interested in the Georgian problem.
13-19 June: the XXXIth International Peace Congress, held in Cardiff (England), adopted unanimously the following resolution:
« The XXXIth Universal Peace Congress,
Taking into consideration that the USSR was admitted to the League of Nations under conditions provided for at the Locarno Congress:
Taking into consideration that the League of Nations was founded in particular on the principle of the right of people to self-government,
That this principle is at the basis of the constitution of the USSR which recognized, by its treaty concluded with Georgia on May 7th, 1920, the independence and sovereignty without any reservation of the Georgian State;
Noting that it was in violation of this treaty and contrary to this principle that the USSR now occupies Georgia;
Taking into consideration that the maintenance of peace, which is the chief goal of the League of Nations, is only possible by respecting treaties and international justice;
Recalling its previous resolutions, urges the League of Nations to take appropriate measures to put an end to this situation, contrary to the rights of peoples, by inviting the USSR to restore the independence of Georgia together with all her rights as a sovereign State. »
December 5: dissolution of the Transcaucasian Federation. The RSS of Georgia enters in the Union as a «Republic». The capital is renamed Tbilisi, its Georgian name.
Wave of arrests in Georgia
The remaining leaders of the former Republic are dragged before the courts and sentenced to death.
Ditto for the very first Georgian Communist leaders: C. Eliava, Lado Gueguetchkori, the secretaries of Beria and Makharadze…
February 18: suicide of Ordjonikidze in Moscow
July 9: trial behind closed doors of Budu Mdivani, the former head of the Soviet Government of Georgia, and of his comrades. Sentenced to death, they were executed the next day.
August: the XXXIIth Universal Peace Congress, which was held in Paris, reaffirms its resolution regarding Georgia.
1-3 September: paroxysm of arrests in an atmosphere of terror. The Georgian intelligentsia is decimated.
December 4: celebration of the 750th anniversary of Shota Rustaveli, organized in Geneva by the International Committee for Georgia. In his opening address the Chairman of the Committee, State Councillor, Albert Malche, referred to Georgia, which « appears to us as a Caucasus Switzerland, millenary, proud, fighting for independence, mountainous». He recalled having been received in the hamlet of Leuville (France) where the Georgian exiles « are continuing valiantly to live. »
He saluted their courage and referred « Yes! Such is destiny. On the hill, in the cemetery, sleep those who didn’t give up. All these outlaws, women as men have deepened the sense of sacrifice. They bravely live with their injury, not for them but for the future which« they are entrusted; their faith is entire. »
He ended by saying « Today the poet and his nation are one. Listen to him. It is the millennium voice of Georgia that nothing could ever silence. »
Originally scheduled in Paris, this event had been cancelled due to the requirement of the USSR to see «its Ambassador, Mr. Souritza, sitting on the Sorbonne rostrum next to the President of the National Government in exile, Noe Jordania, which the latter had not accepted. Still in the atmosphere of the Popular Front, the French Government had to reconsider its decision. » « Chota Roustavéli à l’Université de Genève ». Ed. Perret-Gentil. Suisse. 1963
August: German-Soviet pact
The USSR is expelled from the League of Nations.
29 August: ultimatum from Germany for Poland
1 September: without declaring war, Germany crosses the German-Polish border
3 September: Great Britain and France declared war on Germany.
In France, general mobilization was made official. Apart of the Georgian professional soldiers Georgians belonging to the Foreign Legion, it provoked the mobilization of a large number of young Georgians within the French army. The emblematic figure of the Lieutenant-Colonel, Prince Dimitri Amilakhvari, Companion of the Liberation, killed in El Alamein battle in 1942, has marked the Second World War history.
The Second World War
and the Georgian question before the new world order
4 February: Noe Jordania’s declaration standing up for the Franco-British bloc. This declaration was followed by the adoption of the former Constituent Assembly members (resident in France) resolution in favor of the Allies in which he said among other things:
«In the present war between the countries of democracy and individual liberty on one side and barbarous dictatorship on the other, subjugating many peoples and threatening others which are still free with the same fate we place ourselves on the side of the first. (…)We take this opportunity to express once again our deepest gratitude to this noble country of France for the generous hospitality which she has extended to us and our countrymen, and our fervent wishes of her glorious army».
The record of the session was forwarded to the French Government and to the press. The resolution was reproduced in various newspapers.
30 April: In agreement with that, the Official Paper of the National Georgian Council (involving all the Georgian parties in exile):«Le Courrier Géorgien N° 1» (Georgian Courrier), published:
« We are convinced that the Franco-British democracies will fulfil their duty and reestablish justice and right in our troubled world, bringing their most valuable aid to the fight to free subjugated people from the yoke of Hitlerian Germany as well as Stalinian Russia…We join President Noe Jordania in appealing to all our countrymen in exile to invite them to side with the allies, wishing them victory and working with all their might for the liberation of the Georgian people. » Source: Constantin Kandelaki «The Georgian Question before the Free World» Paris. 1953
22 June: Signature of the Franco-German armistice. France is divided in two by the boundary line. The northern zone with Paris is occupied by Nazi Germany.
The position of the Georgian representatives in exile will lead to German reprisals. The Georgian Refugee office in France was searched, many documents and files were seized and never returned. The Office was closed in 1941 and replaced by a Georgian section within an organization involving all the Caucasian countries and, this time, depending on these authorities. The Georgian Refugee office Director, Sossipatre Assathiany, Member of the Georgian Social Democratic party abroad, was arrested and imprisoned in the fort at Romainville in February 1943.
Nevertheless, according to Constantin Kandelaki, Minister of Finance of the Social Democratic Government of the 1st Republic, the unanimity remained in the Georgian political émigrés, regardless of their affiliations: «they continued to act in the interest of the Georgian people. (…) even the Georgian officials, appointed by the occupying power to watch the Georgian emigrants, usually acted as defenders of their fellow-countrymen and of their rights before the occupants. This unanimity of Georgian opinion helped, among other things, to save all the Georgian Jewish emigrants in the countries occupied by the Germans. Their defense was true to the history of Christian Georgia, which was always been known for her tolerance towards all races and religions.» Constantin Kandelaki. «The Georgian Question before the Free World. » Paris. 1953
22 June: Germany attacks the Soviet Union. European Russia is occupied.
Following the break of the German-Soviet Pact, the USSR joined the Allies and proceeded to general mobilization: more than 600,000 Georgians will serve on several conflict front lines (1941-1945).
At that time, some Georgian émigrés choose to join the Wehrmacht, in the “Georgian legion”, to fight on the Caucasus front against the Soviets occupying their country since 1921.
2 February: Surrender of Germany at Stalingrad
August: liberation of Paris
October: Chief Rabbi of Paris, Jacob Kaplan’s letter to Noe Jordania
February: Conference of Yalta
2 May: fall of Berlin
8 May: end of war in Europe with the unconditional surrender of Germany.
Nearly 300,000 Georgians have fallen on the field of honor.
The war ended and democracy emerged victorious, however the small nations oppressed by the USSR remained subjugated.
Return of the Georgian Treasure to Tbilisi with General de Gaulle’s guarantee. Ekvtime Takaichvili, Vice President of the Constituent Assembly of free Georgia, responsible for the supervision of the collections of the museums of Georgia sheltered in France, former Professor of Archaeology at the University of Tbilisi, fulfilling the mandate entrusted to him by the National Government in exile, escorts the Treasure to its final destination.
Akaki Tchenkeli, Minister plenipotentiary of the free Georgia in France, and Grigol (Gricha) Ouratadzé – member of the former Georgian Constituent Assembly and signer, on behalf of Georgia, of the Russo-Georgian treaty of 1920, presented a memorandum to the Secretary General of the UNO at its 3rd session in Paris.
November: Noe Jordania, President of the Georgian National Government in exile, sent the members of the UNO a documented account of the «Georgian Problem».
26 May: inaugurating the Georgian section of the «Voice of America », Dan Acheson, American Secretary of State, adressed to Georgia a message denouncing the Communist aggression and ensuring that this radio will deliver in Georgian language the « truth which the Communists fear and try to keep of » (dispatched by AAP).
November: President Noe Jordania addressed to the members of the 6th Assembly of the United Nations a Memorandum recalling the situation of Georgia.
25-31 July: the International Congress of Free Jurists held in West Berlin, warmly greeted the intervention of Evgueni Gueguetchkori, former Georgian Minister of Foreign Affairs. In its political resolution dealing with the situation in Western Germany, the Congress pointed out once again:
«It appears from accounts given by nationals from several satellite nations and those from certain countries invaded by the Soviet Republic (Hungary, Rumania, Slovakia, Albania, Latvia, Lithuania, Georgia) that the situation in these countries is identical with that which exists to-day in the Democratic Republic of Eastern Germany. Ther prevails the same disregard for human rights(…)» Constantin Kandelaki. « The Georgian Question before the Free World. » Paris. 1953
11 January: death of Noe Jordania at home (Vanves – France)
5 March: death of Stalin (Moscow – USSR)
Publication in Paris of the book “The Georgian Question before the Free World” by Constantin Kandelaki, Minister of Finance of the Social Democratic Government of the 1st Republic.
June: death of Evgheni Gueguetchkori, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the National Government of Georgia.
In Georgia: from 1921 to 1953, clandestine organizations of the Social Democratic Party have functioned and supported all the anti-Soviet popular movements.
Out of Georgia: until N. Jordania’s death, many socialist activists in exile risked their lives passing clandestinely the Turkish-Georgian border to keep contact with the clandestine organizations of the social democratic party in Georgia.
Despite the inevitable and progressive disappearance of the political leaders (Constantin Kandelaki died in 1958, Akaki Tchenkeli and Irakli Tsereteli in 1959, Guiorgui Eradze in 1971…) who embodied the Cause of free Georgia, the Cause continued to be defended on the international stage until the restoration of independence of Georgia in 1991.
Letter of the small nations occupyied by the Soviet Union to Mr. Sandler, President of the League – September 18th 1934Posted: June 21, 2013
Sources: Constantin Kandelaki “The Georgian Question before the Free World”. Paris 1953
Pierre E. Briquet, article in the “Journal de Genève” entitled : Litvinoff wll appear – September 16th, 1934Posted: June 21, 2013
Excerpt from “L’URSS à Genève” (compilation of aticles) by Jean Martin, Editor in-chief, and Pierre E. Briquet, Foreign Affairs Editor
English translation : Constantin Kandelaki “The Georgian Question before the Free World”. Paris 1953