Sir (John) Oliver Wardrop (10 October 1864 – 19 October 1948) was a British diplomat, traveller and Georgian scholar, primarily known as the United Kingdom’s first Chief Commissioner of Transcaucasus in Georgia (1919-21), and also as the founder and benefactor of Kartvelian studies at Oxford University.
After traveling to Georgia, then part of Russian empire in 1887, O. Wardrop wrote his study The Kingdom of Georgia, published in 1888. In 1894 during his second journey to Georgia he mastered the Georgian language and published a series of books on Georgia, including his translation of Sulkhan-Saba Orbeliani’s The Book of Wisdom and Lies.
In July 1919, the British Foreign Secretary Lord Curzon offered O. Wardrop the post of the first British Chief Commissioner of Transcaucasus in Tbilisi. The government of independent Georgia and its head Noe Jordania welcomed Sir Oliver’s return to Georgia. O. Wardrop tried to promote Georgian culture and gather all the support from the west for the newly formed country under the threat of Bolshevik aggression.
After Soviet Russia’s Red Army’s invasion of Georgia in 1921, O. Wardrop organized the set-up of the Georgian Society and the Georgian Committee in London. In 1930, along with William Edward David Allen, politician and historian of South Caucasus who published in 1932 A history of the Georgian people, he formed the Georgian Historical Society which published its own journal Georgica.
O. Wardrop also catalogued the Georgian manuscripts at the British Museum and continued to add to the Wardrop Collection of Georgian books and manuscripts at the Bodleian Library.
His sister Marjory Wardrop (1869–1909) was an English scholar. Fluent in seven foreign languages, she also learned Georgian and traveled to Georgia in 1894, 1895 and 1896. She translated into English prose the 12th-century Georgian epic poem by Shota Rustaveli, The Knight in the Panther’s Skin, published after her death by Oliver Wardrop in London (1912). She translated and published Georgian Folk Tales (London, 1894), The Hermit by Ilia Chavchavadze (London, 1895), The Life of St. Nino (Oxford, 1900), etc.
After her death, Sir Oliver created the Marjory Wardrop Fund at Oxford University “for the encouragement of the study of the language, literature, and history of Georgia, in Transcaucasia.” In 2003, based on the legacy left by Sir John Oliver Wardrop and his sister Marjory, the Oxford University Georgian Society was founded.
- 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.
1783 : IRAKLI II, King of Kartli and Kakheti (eastern Georgia),needing an ally against attacks from Muslim Turkey and Persia, signs a treaty of friendship with CATHERINE II of Russia, a fellow Orthodox country: the Treaty of Georgievsk.
But Russia has only one aim, the extension of her empire to the South; so she let Turkish and Persian invasions go on, weakening Georgia this way.
1800. Estimated population of Georgia: 675,000 inhabitants.
1801 : forced incorporation of the Kingdom of Kartli-Kakéthie (eastern Georgia, September) to the Russian empire in violation of the Treaty of 1783, followed by the annexation of the Kingdom of Iméréti (western Georgia, 1810), of Principality of Guria (western Georgia, 1829) and Principalities of Mingrelia, Abkhazia. The whole becomes a province of the Russian empire
1804,1809,1812.Uprisings against the russification.
1811. Abrogation of the autocephaly of the Georgian church which is put under the authority of the Russian church.
1819-1820, resumption of the uprisings.
Tiflis becomes the center of the exile of Russian political opponents of czarism, acquired to liberal ideas.
1821: popular insurrection against the viceroy of Caucasus, ERMOLOV, who wants to russify Georgia through a policy of terror. The insurrection is repressed by slaughters and deportations.
1830. Start of the insurrection of Muslim highlanders of North Caucasus.
1832: failure of the conspiracy of the Georgian nobility against Russian occupation (December).
1841: uprising of Guria
1845. The Caucasus becomes a Viceroyalty whose capital is Tiflis (Tbilisi). Under the actions of the viceroy prince Michael VORONTSOV, the Georgian intelligentsia experiences a new boom.
1848. Creation of a Caucasian educational section with establishment of new schools.
1850. Creation of Georgian newspapers, libraries, Opera, and official agencies and associations such as the Caucasian company for agricultural production or the Caucasian society of geography.
1850-1860: popular insurrections shake the country, with a very important uprising in Mingrelia (1857).
The end of the 19th century signals the resurrection of the national idea and hope for the restoration of independence.
1860: Ilia TCHAVTCHAVADZE, writer and poet whose personality dominates the Georgian cultural life, leads a group of intellectuals known as the PirveliDasi(the First group). Ilia TCHAVTCHAVADZE militates in favor of Georgia’s greater cultural freedom, defends the Georgian language, supports Georgian schools and church, defends peasants and fights against serfdom. From 1880 on, he becomes a conservative liberal.
1861. Abolition of serfdom in Russia
1864. End of the wars of the Caucasus; the muslims of the North are defeated. The Georgian peasants are released from serfdom.
1866. Guiorgui TSERETELI creates the MeoreDasi (second group), set of young radical writers influenced by populism and democratic ideas.
1867. Beginning of the construction of Poti-Tbilisi railway line, including the hiring of Georgian peasants chiefly from Guria. On the site, these peasants meet with Russian workers, most of whom support the ideals of democracy.
1868. Birth of Noah JORDANIA, future leader of the independent Georgia.
1870-1880: development of naphtha industry in Baku and of manganese in the area of Chiatura. Georgian peasants are going to work in cities and have contacts with liberal and progressive ideas. In 1872, opening of the first line of railway in Transcaucasia: Tiflis-Poti.
1875. Opening in Tiflis of Nobility Bank.
1873. The population of the country reaches 1.300.000 inhabitants.
1876.Jakob GOGEBACHVILI (1840-1912) publishes a manual of learning Georgian language for children, still being used in Georgia: “Dédaéna” (mother tongue).
1877. First issue of I. TCHAVTCHAVADZE’s newspaper, “Iveria”.
1878. Turkish defeat in the war against Russia. Russia takes over Ardahan, Artvin and Kars and aggregates them to Georgian lands, especially Batumi and its region.
Demonstrations begin at the Seminary of Tiflis because of the provocations of the Russian rector who said that “Georgian language is dog language!” The Rector is trashed by Sylvestre DJIBLADZE (student leader of the revolt of the small Seminary of Ozourgeti) who is sentenced to 3 years of disciplinary company. The seminar is closed, the students go back to their villages and spread democratic ideas.
1879. Georgia becomes the world’s leading producer of manganese.
At the initiative of J. GOGEBACHVILI and I. TCHAVTCHAVADZE, an Association for spreading education among the Georgians is founded.
1880. Capitalism expands swiftly in Caucasus; it is represented in Georgia by Russians, Armenians and representatives of Western Europe capitalists (English, French, German…)
1880-1890: During this period, G. TSERETELI and N. NIKOLADZE (MeoreDasi) represent transitional figures of importance, between I. TCHAVTCHAVADZE’s reformism and the Social Democrats’ socialism.
1881. Murder of Alexander II by populist militants. He was succeeded by Alexander III, a conservative and nationalist tsar. Systematic policy of russification of non-Russian populations.
1883. Completion of the transverse railway Baku-Tbilisi-Batumi which will promote the development of Georgia and its exchanges with Europe. Baku oil becomes a fundamental element of the economic and social life of Transcaucasia
Turning point in the political movement: claims go beyond demands for cultural recognition.
1885. Formation of the first Marxist groups in Georgia with, at their head, Noah JORDANIA, Sylvester DJIBLADZE, Egnaté NINOCHVILI and Nicolas TCHEÏDZE.
Karl Marx’s “Communist Manifesto” is translated into Georgian.
1886: first major strike at the Tiflis railway depot of. This event marks the beginning of the junction between the Marxist circles and the workers.
1891. Noé JORDANIA, who finished the seminary in 1890, goes to Warsaw to carry on his studies. He discovers the European socialism, in particular through K. Kautsky’s books which are developing the theory of historical materialism. He discovers also the extent of the Polish national feeling. He begins a regular correspondence with his Georgian fellows and sends them prohibited Russian-language editions.
1892: when Noé Jordania went back to Georgia, the first Georgian Socialists’ Conference where populist ideas prevailed was held in December in Kwirila (Imereti). Not agreeing with them, Sylvester DJIBLADZE, Egnaté NINOCHVILI and Noé JORDANIA decided to hold in Tiflis a second Conference and to present their own claims program.
1893: this program was adopted on February the 7th during the Tiflis Conference, which is considered as the foundation Congress of the Social Democratic Party of Georgia. This date marks the emergence of traditional Marxist socialism in Georgia. The party proclaimed
– the right to independence for all nations, from which derives the right to independence of Georgia
-socialism (a minimum and maximum program, i.e. the passage from the democratic stage to the socialist stage, is adopted).
Following the arrest in Warsaw of their Georgian fellows by the Tsarist authorities, the party organizes the departure of Noah JORDANIA for Europe (his arrest order will reach Georgia only two months after). He will spend there four and a half years, dedicated to studying, and deepening his understanding of different cultures and new ideas. He will meet European Socialists. Impressed by his discoveries, he decides to introduce European culture to his compatriots. “During my European stay there was no other Georgian able to describe and make Europe known to Georgia, I decided to fulfill this duty,” he wrote. “I accomplished that zealously through the articles that I sent to Georgia from 1893 to 1897”.
1893. Foundation of a League for the liberation of Georgia. Installation of the telephone in Tiflis.
1894. NICOLAS II succeeds Alexander III on the Russian throne.
The Third Dasi (Mesame group), first Georgian Marxist organization, is created. It is led by Sylvester DJIBLADZE and Noah Jordania.
1896. The Prince G.GOLITSYNE is appointed viceroy of Caucasus. Breach of the modus vivendi established by his predecessors and violent policy of russification.
1897. Georgia population reaches 1.919.000 inhabitants of which 84% are rural, 68% Georgians and 9% Armenians. Tiflis has 160,000 inhabitants.
Beginning of the awakening of the working class and its political mobilization.Turmoil of ideas. The newspaper “Iveria” disseminates ideas confined to the cultural field: generalization of the education, Georgian schools, Georgian theatre. Progressive ideas appears in the newspaper “Kvali”. Marxist ideas penetrate the society. Thus, Marxists have created workers circles, but they refuse any legal action, focusing on illegal action. This line was defended by the “new Social Democrats” (VassoTabadzé), Pastalevski, Ketskhoveli, etc who dominate the illegal circles. The pioneers of the social democratic movement, known as the “former Social Democrats” (average age 29 years!), are of a different opinion.
When Noé JORDANIA returned in Georgia, after consulting the “former Social Democrats” who had participated in the Conference of Kwirila, the decision was made to give the workers’ movement a broader focus, that is to say that in addition to the economical issues, social and political issues were to be added. Also, it was decided that illegal and clandestine actions shall be completed by legal activities, the first of which was to develop a newspaper.
At the same time, Ilia TCHAVTCHAVADZE offered Noé JORDANIA the direction of his newspaper « Iveria », an offer he declined.
1898. The Socialist Party made contact with G. TSERETELI, who agreed to give up his newspaper “Kvali” (the Groove) in January. NoéJordania became the director. He transformed it into the Georgian Marxists’ legal organ, which would become the rallying point of the Georgian social democracy.
Campaigns carried out by “Kvali” played a significant role in the social and political evolution of Georgia and in “the reawakening of the Georgian people by the uniting of the peasants and the democratic intellectuals with the proletariat, champion of the progress in Georgia as well as in the whole world” (W. Woytinski).
A controversy arose between Georgian socialists and nationalists through articles written by Ilia TCHAVTCHAVADZE and Noé JORDANIA, the articles of the latter showing the reactionary essence of the nationalism of the nobility.
1900. May 1st, 600 activists and socialist supporters gather in a valley near Tiflis. At the end of this event, the decision was made to celebrate May 1st the following year in Tiflis.
Sylvester DJIBLADZE is sent to Russia to contact the POSDR, the Social Democrat Labor Party of Russia, which had recently been created (March 1898) in Minsk. A delegation of Russian Socialists is in turn invited by Georgia.
1901. 1st of May demonstration (April the 18 in the Julian calendar) in Tiflis. Several thousand people participate. Cossacks charge. Many killed and wounded. The prisons fill with social democratic activists, among them NoéJordania, VlassaMgEladzE, SylvesterDjibladzE….
In Russia, foundation of the Socialist-Revolutionary Party, arising from the populist movement of the years 1870-1880.
1902. The situation becomes extremely strained; the party’s leaders are in jail, so the Georgian social democracy decides to join the POSDR.
Multiple strikes shake up Georgia. Reprisals are violent: workers are killed or imprisoned; many others are dismissed and have to go back to their villages.
The “old” leaders are joined by a generation of younger activists, Noé RAMICHVILI, Noé KHOMERIKI, Archil DJAPARIDZE, Irakly TSERETELI…The first two assume organization work, the latter two become known through their writings and propaganda.
The party organizes strikes and peasant committees throughout the country. The alliance between workers and peasants is realized and the peasantry (80% of the population) become the main force of Georgian social democracy, as evidenced by the powerful peasant movement of Guria (western Georgia) led by Social Democrats. Guria no longer recognizes the Czarist authorities and has adopted self-government.
During the winter, with the prospect of the election of the Committee of Union of Transcaucasia (central Committee), the Conference of the party for Transcaucasia was held in Tiflis under the chairmanship of N. JORDANIA. He is given the responsibility of writing the program of the party covering the Caucasus and Russia. Then, as an order to have him deported arrives, he manages to embark for Europe.
The Tiflis-Yerevan railway line is opened.
1903. Important political events in Tbilisi and Batumi.
2nd Congress of the POSDR (Brussels-London, July 30 – August 23, 1903). At this Congress there are two opposing sides: the Bolsheviks (of “bolchinstvo”, majority) and the Mensheviks (of “menchinstvo”, minority). Noé JORDANIA versus Lenin, the Bolsheviks’ leader. The split between the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks has little impact in Georgia.
The Transcaucasian Committee declares a general strike with a political aim in the region. It will last three days with success. Violent confrontations with the armed forces.
1904. Russo-Japanese war.
In Geneva, the birth of the Georgian Federalist Socialist Party “Sakartvelo”. Similar to the Russian revolutionary Socialists, they claim territorial national autonomy in a decentralized federal State. Its founders are Archil Djordjadze and Giorgi Laskhichvili. In Paris they publish “Sakartvelo”, a bilingual newspaper (Georgian-French) where some articles of Noé JORDANIA are printed; this collaboration will last only a short time. Afterwards Jordania comes out with a pamphlet entitled “The nationalists” in which he condemns the policy of cooperation between the classes defended by “Sakartvelo”. He writes: “How can a wolf and a goose coexist in the same pen?”
The Georgian Social Democratic Party develops organizations throughout Georgia.
A network of tramways is operational in Tiflis.
Injured in July in an attack, the General Governor of the Caucasia, G.GOLITSYNEreturns to Russia.
The following dates are sometimes given according to the double calendar
Julian and Gregorian
(To find the dates of the Julian calendar that existed in the Tsarist Empire and Turkey
13 days must be subtracted from the Gregorian calendar)
January 9 (January 22), Red Sunday at Saint-Petersburg. The guard shoot on a peaceful demonstration led by the pope Gapone. The event triggers a period of unrest and demands for reform in the whole empire.
In Georgia, the social democratic party organizes everywhere demonstrations of solidarity; workers, traders, civil servants, clergy take part in strikes and challenge the Czarist authorities. Virtual insurrectional situation in Guria.
“Kvali” is banned by the Government. Edition of “Mogzaouri” directed by P. Makharadzé, and “Tsnobispourtseli” now led by the social-federalists. “Iveria” is no longer directed by Ilia Chavchavadze.
March. The Union Committee launches a broad debate on the confrontational thesis which were expounded at the London Congress. During a three-day Conference in Batumi, Stalin, who supports Lenin’s thesis is defeated by Noé RAMICHVILI who defends JORDANIA’s thesis.
The underground newspaper “Social democracy” became the organ of Georgian socialism. Noe JORDANIA publishes, with the assistance of Noe Ramichvili, articles on “Menchevism or Bolshevism”, also published in “Iskra” in Russian translation, with a preface by F. Dan and I. Tsereteli. In Georgia the Bolshevik’s thesis remains accepted only by a minority.
“It is only in Georgia that the Marxist organizational and fundamentally political directive was preeminent: The Workers ‘liberation is the workers ‘job (…)” Meantime the Russians ‘watchword was: “The liberation of the workers is the job of the dedicated intelligentsia’s ” (…). “That’s the way Georgian and Russian Social Democrats ‘paths diverged”. N. JORDANIA “My past” (more in “True and false communism“, by N. JORDANIA, published in Paris, 1925). See also, L. H. Haimson
The Georgian socialism binding worker and peasant is taking its own character.
May. Arrival at Tiflis of the new viceroy countVorontsov-Dachkov, an aristocratic liberal (position restored, it had been abolished in 1882).
June. Battleship Potemkin’s mutiny.
August. The 6, Nicholas II accepts the principle of convening a Duma.
The 29, in Tiflis, Cossacks attack a social democratic meeting: 60 deaths and hundreds of wounded. The Central Committee decides to respond and defend: a militia —the hundred reds– is created. This organization is the embryo of the future “people’s Guard”. A few days later, in Tiflis, all Cossacks’ cantonments are attacked and bombed. This act had a huge impact; the Imperial administration was forced to recognize its powerlessness.
September Following the Russia’s capitulation, signature of a peace treaty with Japan.
October, a general strike breaks out in Russia. October 17 (October 30), Nicholas II is forced to sign the Imperial manifesto allowing freedom of opinion and association, and an elected parliament, the Duma. De Witte is appointed Prime Minister.
At theend of 1905, Georgia is in insurrection. A “Republic of Guria” chaired by the Social Democrat Benia TCHIKHVICHVILI and led by a revolutionary and republican power is proclaimed.
The “Republic of Guria” throws light on the unusual relationship between the Georgian social democracy and the peasantry. (…) The Georgian peasants changed the Georgian section of the POSDR into a mass organization, defying in this way the major components of the POSDR revolutionary strategy. (…). The massive recruitment of peasants in the Georgian organizations provoked serious reservations from Russian members of the POSDR about the Marxist orthodoxy of the Georgian Social Democrats.” S. Jones “Socialism in Georgian colors.”
1906. The reactioncrushes the revolutionary movements throughout the Empire. Georgia is victim of a terrible repression. The Republic of Guria, which lasted 6 months, is drowned in blood.
Cossack troops commit murders, rapes, arson. 13,000 people are arrested in Georgia. Many are deported to Siberia. The Tsarist Government attempts to break the forces of democracy in Transcaucasia, stirring up national discords and religious conflicts between Armenians (Christians) and Azerbaijanis (Muslims). After the killings in eastern Transcaucasia, it was to be Tiflis turn. The armed communities were ready for a confrontation, but the Georgian Social Democrats managed to avoid the planned pogrom. They organized a demonstration to intervene between the belligerents, thus avoiding a bloodbath.
The tsarist Government failed to destroy the Georgian Social Democratic Party whose resolutions and positions were published in the legal daily “Skhivi” (Radius) directed by N. JORDANIA.
In March, in theelections to the 1st Duma of the Russian empire, while the two factions – Menshevik and Bolshevik – of the POSDR are boycotting these elections, the Georgian social democracy decided to present its candidates. Its success is overwhelming; the three representatives of Georgia are all Social Democrats: Noé JORDANIA, leader of the party; Isidore RAMICHVILI, who had led the demonstration of Tiflis avoiding bloodshed; and Nicolas (Carlo) TCHEIDZE.
April. POSDR IV Congress of unification in Stockholm. The Georgian democracy opposes the Bolsheviks’ thesis, in conjunction with the Russian Mensheviks. Lenin is beaten. The false mandates of Joseph Dzhugashvili (Stalin) and his friends are invalidated by the mandates commission. The POSDR is reunified, but the Bolsheviks organize themselves by “tendencies”, thus establishing the basis for the future “Bolshevik” party. Plekhanov issues a statement on behalf of the Congress: “self-determination means the right of the nation to create its own state”.
The Bolsheviks are virtually eliminated from the Georgian political landscape.
May.Meeting of the 1st Duma.
July.Dissolution of the 1st Duma.
The deputies decide to go to Finland and there they sign the “ Manifesto of Viborg” written by Noé JORDANIA and Pavel MILYUKOV (KD party leader). The signatories are arrested and sentenced to 5 months of jail. Noé JORDANIA escapes arrest and remains more than 18 months in the underground.
1907. In March, elections to the 2th Duma. All tendencies present candidates. The Georgian social democracy has its seven candidates elected, including Artchil DJAPARIDZE, Irakly TSERETELI, Bikenti LOMTATIDZE, Constantin KANDELAKI, Severian DJOUGHELI, and Guerassime MAKHARADZE. The junior, Irakly TSERETELI, is elected head of the social democratic group of the Duma, which gathers 56 deputies. He leads the fight against STOLYPIN, Prime Minister of the Tsar.
In May, at the London Congress (Vth Congress of the POSDR), Georgia is represented by 29 delegates, 30% are from Guria among them N. JORDANIA. The Bolsheviks take back the majority and introduce the principle of democratic centralism. Noé JORDANIA is still elected as member of the Central Committee
Getting ready to dissolve the Duma, the Government puts an ultimatum: remove the parliamentary immunity of the Social Democrats deputies to allow their arrest and bring them to trial.
June. In the name of the Social Democrat Group, in a memorable speech, Irakli TSERETELI called on the Duma to enter the road of the revolutionary struggle and to take the necessary measures for the defense of the representatives of the people and of the people’s rights. The next day, the Duma is dissolved. All the Democrats deputies are arrested and sentenced to hard labour. Deported to Siberia, DJAPARIDZE and LOMTATIDZE will die there.
In August, signature of the Triple Entente between France, England, and Russia against the Germanic Triple Alliance.
Murder of Ilia TCHAVTCHAVADZE. The mystery remains about its perpetrators. At his funeral, intervention of two executives of the Georgian social democratic party: Nicolas TCHEÏDZE and Vlassa MGUELADZE.
Baku-Batumi pipeline completion.
Despite the intense repression, Georgian social democracy continues to gain ground in the cities as well as in the countryside. Thus, in November, Georgian democracy manages to have all its candidates elected at the 3th Duma, so-called “Duma of the Lords”, in spite of the modification of the Electoral Act to the benefit of the nobles and the rich. At the Duma, of a total of 442 members, only 18 represent social including Nicolas (Carlo) TCHEIDZE (candidate of the gubernia of Tiflis) and EvgeniyGuEguEtchkori (candidate of the gubernia of Kutaisi).
During ten years, the Georgian Social Democrats GuEguEtchkori, TchEidzE, Tchenkeli, TSERETELI will remain on the extreme left of the Duma and will provide a legal and public representation to the democratic requirements.
1908. In December, plenary meeting of the POSDR central Committee in Paris. N. JORDANIA member of the central Committee participates. At the origin of the convocation is the arrest of the Bolshevik Litvinov for his theft of assignats (old paper money). The Bolsheviks, who have lost any prestige in the European Socialist circles and with the Socialist International, give up and stop their “expropriations”.
The party shared between Bolsheviks “expropriators” and Mensheviks “liquidators” (that is to say, against the secret action, and whose objective is the establishment of bourgeois democracy in Russia), appears near to collapse.
In December, while remaining with the Mensheviks ‘position, PLEKHANOV and his group argue for the continuation of illegal organizations and illegal work of the party. They make an agreement with Lenin and the Bolsheviks.
Georgian social democracy continues on its original road and decides to develop at the same time legal and illegal organizations.
At numerous meetings in Geneva, Akaki TCHENKELI expounds the theory of national cultural autonomy.
Archbishop Nikon, Exarch of Georgia, is murdered. Tensions prevail between Georgian priests and conservative elements of the Russian clergy.
1911. PLEKHANOV breaks off with Lenin.
The Social democratic organizations discuss the national question.
1912. At the Prague Conference (January), the Bolsheviks exclude the Mensheviks, thus formally inaugurating an autonomous existence. Stalin (Joseph Djougashvili) enters the central Committee. However, until 1918, the Bolsheviks will continue under the name of POSDR, with the word “Bolsheviks” between quotation marks. In 1918, the POSDR will indicate only the Mensheviks led by MARTOV.
General strike in Georgia (April).
Dissolution of the 3th Duma (June).
The Georgian social democrat deputy, Akaki TCHENKELI,calls for the “creation of institutions for the free development of each nationality.” Lenin is furious. Stalin prepares the Bolsheviks response.
November, beginning of the 4th Duma. New laws and repression provoke the decrease of the number of social democrats deputies. Russian workers give massively their votes to the Bolsheviks candidates, unlike what happens in Georgia. There, as usual, Social Democrat candidates are elected.
1913. Celebration of the 300th anniversary of the Romanov family’s reign.
Publication of “The national question and social democracy” by Stalin.
Strikes and demonstrations through all the country.
28 June, murder of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary.
28 June, Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia
1 August, Germany declares war on Russia then,the 3rd, on France and Serbia; and invades Belgium.
4 August Britain and France come into the war
6 August, Austria-Hungary declares war on Russia
French, German and Belgian Socialists vote for the military appropriations (sacred Union). At the Duma, in name of the social democrat group, Nicolas (Carlo) TCHEÏDZE refuses to vote the military credits.
Foundation in Germany of a Georgian Committee led by G. Matchabeli and M. Tsereteli; the aim of this Committee: to free Georgia with German and Turkish help. They do take contact with Noé JORDANIA. An agreement is established: inside each country each formation will work according to its own policy line. Abroad, the Committee will work according to its own policy. On the fundamental point of the independence of Georgia, there was no difference. But a tactic must be defined in order to achieve the objective without risking the physical existence of the Georgian nation.
November 1, the Turkish Empire declares war alongside the central powers.
November 2, Russia declares war on Turkey, the ally of Germany. The Caucasus becomes an important stake. More than 150,000 Georgians are sent on the battlefields of the Great War.
The war, the hopes of revolution and freedom that it arouses among oppressed peoples, the possible alliances with the belligerents of all sides, feed the debates in political circles.
April. Turkish incursions on the Black Sea coast
Spring.Beginning of the Armenian genocide in Turkey.
The Grand Duke Nicolas is appointed as viceroy. Resumption of the Russian offensive (September)
1916. Wave of strikes in Russian cities (February-may).
Trebizond is occupied by the Russian Army (April).
June. Victorious attack of the Russian army in Anatolia.
Georgia: sets aside land areas for the many Armenian refugees.
At the 3rd Congress of the Union of Nationalities in Lausanne, Irakly TSERETELI presents a report about the “rights of the Georgian people”.
1917. January. Catastrophic food situation in Georgia.Cases of famine in some areas.
In Lanchkhuti, the social democratic party organizes a conference where all the representatives of the Georgian organizations gather. An agreement is reached on an essential point of strategy: to declare the independence of Georgia in case of favorable circumstances, i.e. if the Russian army withdraws from Georgia. To avoid any hasty approach, it is decided to keep that decision secret until the next Conference, which will decide whether to make this decision public or not. A month later, the Russian revolution begins.
The February Revolution.Strikes, demonstrations, riots are going crescendo; in February 26th, the Czar dissolves the Duma. The 27, establishment of a dual power: the temporary Committee of the Duma and the Petrograd Soviet of Workers’ Deputies (chaired by a Georgian, Nicolas TCHEIDZE, replaced in March by his compatriot IraklyTSERETELI ,back from deportation).
The Committee gathering all the Georgian parties increases its authority as of the beginning of the revolution.
2. The czar abdicates.
March3, formation of the temporary Russian Government. The 6, publication of the temporary Government’s program (amnesty, convening of a constituent assembly elected by universal suffrage).
12. The Georgian church restores its autocephaly.
15. Tiflis hears of the fall of the regime.
17. The Tiflis Revolutionary Soviet of workers and soldiers elects Noé JORDANIA as President.
22. The temporary Government creates Ozakom, a special Transcaucasian Committee.
April. Arrival of Lenin in Petrograd. Strong reactions of the Petrograd soviet to Milyukov’s note confirming to the allies the commitment of Russia in the war, including anti-war demonstrations.
On the initiative of the Federalist Socialists and of the newly formed National Democratic Party, the main Georgian parties, Social Democrats included, create a cross-parties information office.
May.Second temporary government which includes Petrograd soviet representatives.
3-24 June.First all-Russia Congress of soviets in Petrograd.Lenin, in the name of the Bolshevik minority (105 delegates from over 800) declares that he is ready to take the power.
3-4 July.”July days” in Petrograd.Violent demonstrations of workers, soldiers and sailors of Kronstadt against the Government and the Soviet. The 24, third temporary Government led by Kerensky.
21 August. The cross-parties Information Office is renamed “Cross-parties National Committee.” N. JORDANIA and A. Tchenkeli are elected to the Executive Committee, but the relationship between Social Democrats and National Democrats are difficult.
27-31 August.Attempt of military putsch by General Kornilov.
September.Proclamation of the Republic of Russia.
VIth Congress of the Bolshevik Party with the participation of the inter-districts organization whose four representatives are elected to the central Committee, among them, TROTSKY.
October 7. Opening of the Pre-Parliamentand withdrawal of the Bolsheviks from the inaugural session.
12. TROTSKY sets up the Petrograd Military Revolutionary Committee (PMRC) to prepare the Bolshevik uprising.
24. Start of the Bolshevik coup d’état.
25. Petrograd falls into the insurgents’ hands; the PMRC proclaims the removal of the temporary Government and takes the power.
Night of 25 to 26. Attack of the Winter Palace and opening of the 2d Pan Russian Congress of Soviets.Withdrawal of the socialist revolutionaries and of the Mensheviks who denounce the Bolsheviks’ coup d’etat.
Night of 26-27. Last session of the Congress and formation of the Bolshevik temporary Government: the Soviet Council of People’s Commissars chaired by Lenin.
During all these events, the Georgian people remains organized around the Georgian social democracy.
November11. The Special Transcaucasian Committee is dissolved on the initiative of the Transcaucasian Revolutionary Councils which do not recognize the Bolshevik coup. The Committee is replaced by a new organization, the Transcaucasian Commissariatchaired by Evgueni GUEGUETCHKORI, with Akaki TCHENKELI as Minister for Foreign Affairs. In addition to this central power, Georgians, Armenians and Azerbaijanis create in their respective countries National Councils to support their respective national needs.
The National Council of Georgia is created on the instigation and the direction of the national cross-parties Committee of Georgia. Convened on the 19, the Congress brings together 329 delegates representing all the major political parties and social organizations, from the trade-unions up to the Assemblies of the Georgian nobles and the Church. In his address to the Congress (20), N. JORDANIA demands a Georgian National Council able to make its own laws, a Georgian army and a militia, a national administration, and also the nationalization of the judicial and educational systems. He says “We have two questions to decide, and we need to be united…The first question is the guarantee of our national existence, the second, the creation of the basis on which we can build a free cultural development of our people. The National Congress is the first stone of this basis.”
At the so-called Georgian National Council the Social Democratic party dominates. Noé JORDANIA becomes the President of this Council.
The National Council was first involved in the creation of a national armed force, but could not immediately oppose his own defense force to the foreign enemy forces. Indeed, on the Caucasus front as elsewhere the soldiers sided with the Bolshevik power which was promising a quick return to their homes. In addition, the majority of Caucasians who were sent on Western fronts, Georgians and Armenians, were in a tragic situation.
December. As a consequence, the people were called upon for the homeland defense. The Executive Committee of Tiflis Soviet of Workers is denied by the arsenal the necessary weapons. The social democratic workers – very weakly armed but highly determined – succeede in seizing the arsenal without firing a shot (the 12). Like Tiflis, other units compound basically of workers and peasants were then established in every part of Georgia. That’s how the country got the opportunity to arm and defend itself; these armed columns were baptized “people’s Guard”. The anniversary of December 12 became, in Georgia, a National day.
The Commissariat and the revolutionary organizations are working along in perfect harmony and tried to give locally a normal course to the post-revolutionary events.
During this time, the anarchy and civil war devastated Russia, and the soviets’ dictatorship became bloody.
The Tcheka,political police of the new regime, was created.
Elections of the All Russian Constituent Assembly where the Georgian social democracy won a huge success (72% of the votes in Georgia).
Armistice of Brest-Litovsk between Russia and the Central Empires (15)
1918 (January – may)
Note 1: As of January 1918, the new Soviet Russia adopts the Gregorian calendar ( calendar new style) and abandons the Julian calendar of the Orthodox tradition.
1may 1918 (18 April according to the Julian calendar), the Gregorian calendar is introduced in Transcaucasia.
Note 2 : in 1918, Tiflis – a Persian name used by Tsarist Russia, becomes Tbilisi (“warm waters” in Georgian), until then a name used only by Georgians.
January5. Convening and immediate dissolution of the Constituent Assembly of Russia, elected two months earlier.
Following this dissolution by the Bolsheviks, the Georgian, Armenian, Azerbaijani members of this Assembly decide to set up another assembly with legislative functions: the Transcaucasian Diet, chaired by Nicolas TCHEIDZE.
Foundation of Tbilisi University. The revolution of February had allowed Georgian scholars, dispersed within the Russian territory or exiled abroad, to come back to Georgia. Through their initiative and that of Professor DJAVAKHICHVILI, in January, in Tbilisi, the first Georgian University was born, with five faculties and 3,000 students at its inauguration.
Brest-Litovsk negotiations. Transcaucasia declined to participate in these negotiations.
Russian troops abandoning the Turkish front flow back through Georgia in order to return to Russia. To prevent the risk of plundering and exactions, the Popular Guard, led by the Social Democratic Party of Georgia, assures order and the return in their country of 500,000 soldiers. This action avoids the falling into anarchy of the Caucasus.
10 February. Outlawing of the Bolshevik organizations in Georgia after their several attempts of seizing power by force.
March. The 3d, Soviet Russia signs the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, a separate peace with Germany and its allies. By this one-sided Treaty, Russia loses Poland, Finland, Ukraine, the Baltic countries, and gives up Kars, Ardahan and Batumi to the Ottoman Empire. Protest of the Transcaucasian powers.
12, the first Peace Conference between Transcaucasia and Turkey opens in Trebizond. The Turkish delegation is led by the Navy Minister, REUF-BEY. The Transcaucasian delegation is led by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, A. TCHENKELI.
During these talks, the Baku Soviet commissariat, led by CHAOUMIAN, proclaims its allegiance to Moscow. In addition, despite the work of the Conference, the Turks continue their military offensive to concretize their vested interests at Brest-Litovsk. They occupy Ardahan and find themselves at the gates of Kars and Batumi.
April. On the night of 13-14, the Transcaucasian Diet decides to recall its delegation and proclaims a state of siege. The young troops from Caucasia, hastily recruited and with insufficient forces and armament, turn out to be too weak to resist the invaders. Threatened in the East by the Bolsheviks armies, they cannot resist in the South to the Turkish army which seizes the fortress of Batumi. Turkey demands to negotiate with a State.
The 22, the Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republicis proclaimed. The new Government chaired by Akaki TCHENKELI is recognized by Turkey.
The negotiations with Turkey start again. However this formal separation of Transcaucasia (already independent of the Bolshevik central power Transcaucasia didn’t constitute for all that a State) generates – in Russia, the hostile reaction of the KD, the reactionaries, the Bolsheviks and – in Transcaucasia, the hostile reaction of the corps of the state employees and of the russified officers.
May.The 2dpeace conference opens in Batumi (the 11), this timein the presence ofthe Germany delegation as an observer. At the very first meeting, the Turks state their very hard conditions. Their claims exceed the territorial concessions granted by the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, concessions questioned by Transcaucasia. Turkey claims in particular the transfer of the Georgian provinces of Meskhetia and Javakheti, and one third of the territory of Armenia. Transcaucasia must also recognize its dependency on Turkey and accept the ottoman control in the decisions of its domestic policy.
12, The Ottoman army seizes the Alexandropol railway at Djoulfa, and address an ultimatum demanding the surrender of Alexandropol (15). Serious differences appear between the Turks and the Germans who consider their allies’ claims exaggerated.
19, The General VON LOSSOV proposes to the Transcaucasian delegation “his intermediary’s good offices to facilitate an agreement between the Transcaucasian Republic and Turkey”. Proposal accepted by the delegation and denied by Turkey. The Federative Republic of Transcaucasia is divided before these events:
o The Azerbaijani’s deputies, whose capital is occupied by the Soviet Russia, play the card of the Turks
o the Armenian’s deputies, whose country is largely under Turkish domination, refuse to fight against the Bolsheviks.
On May 26, the Ottoman delegation Chairman, KHALIL-BEY, presents an ultimatum to the Transcaucasian delegation. The same day, the Diet – unanimously minus two voices – “notes the collapse of Transcaucasia and resigns from his post.”
Immediate meeting of the National Council of Georgia in the Chamber of the Diet. The Independence Act submitted by Noé Jordania, the Chairman of the National Council, and head of the Social-Democratic party is unanimously adopted. Armenia and Azerbaijan follow two days later.
1918 – 1921
The 26 May Act established the Democratic Republic of Georgia, which guarantees civil and political rights to all citizens living in its territory, without distinction of sex, nationality, religion or social status.
Until the convening of the Constituent Assembly, the power remained vested in the National Council supplemented by representatives of national minorities, and the temporary Government responsible to this Council.
Therefore, the Georgian National Council became the first Parliament of the Republic. Including at the beginning only the representatives of the Georgian parties, it was soon supplemented by the representatives of national minorities (10 Armenians, 4 Tatars, 3 Abkhaz, 2 Russians, 2 Ossetians…).
In this first Georgian Parliament, the social democrats held an absolute majority. Its main task was to prepare the convening of the Constituent Assembly, but also to deal with land reform, financial reform and the organization of the State defense.
Noe RAMISHVILI was the chairman of the first provisional Government of independent Georgia. It was a coalition Government, without the Communists:
oNoe RAMISHVILI (Social Democrat), Chairman of the Government and Minister of the Interior
oAkaki TCHENKELI (Social Democrat), Minister of Foreign Affairs
oGrigol GUIORGADZE (Social Democrat), Minister of War
oGiorgi JOUROULI (National Democrat), Minister of Finance, Trade and Industry
oGiorgi LASKHICHVILI (Federalist Socialist), Minister of National Education
oNoe KHOMERIKI (Social Democrat), Minister of Labour and Agriculture,
oMESKHICHVILI Chalva (Federalist Socialist), Minister of Justice
oIvané LORDKIPANIDZE (National democratic), Minister of Communications and Railways
The proclamation of its independence gave Georgia the framework in which to stop the Turkish invasion. During the Batumi negotiations, the representative of Germany had declared to the Georgian delegation that Germany would be ready to guarantee Georgia against the Turkish aggression, on the condition that Georgia agreed to allow German troops on its territory.
The Turkish ultimatum, requiring the transfer of all the railways of Transcaucasia, was expiring on May 29. The 28, the Georgian Government signed with General VON LOSSOV, representative of Germany, the Convention of Poti (never ratified by the Parliament of Georgia) giving to the Germans the right of monitoring the Georgian railways, but without interfering in the internal affairs of the country.
On June 4, the Treaty of Batumi was signed with Turkey.
The first steps of the Republic of Georgia were hampered by these two obligations, which however presented an advantageous aspect for Georgia inasmuch as they were contradictory and excluded one another.
Germany held to its commitments and didn’t abuse its position toward the young Republic. Being determined to defend its independence and neutrality, Georgia declined the later proposal of an alliance with the German empire. German and Georgian soldiers took possession of the railways in some sensitive regions to oppose the advance of the Turks, who stopped their military operations against Georgia. The German army stayed in Georgia approximately six months (June-December).
At the end of June, Noé JORDANIA was called to the Presidency ofthe Government, and Noe RAMICHVILI became the Minister of Interior, War and Education.
Until then the People’s Guard, a politico-military organization that intervened on the battlefield, was not subject to the Ministry of War, and didn’t recognize any other power than that of the President of the General Staff of the Guard, and previously the head of the Presidium of the Georgian Workers’ and Soldiers’s Soviets, i.e. N. JORDANIA. It was only when this power was entrusted to N. JORDANIA, that the People’s Guard recognized the power of the chairman of the Government.
From now on the Georgian armed forces consisted of the Army recruited through compulsory service and of the People’s Guard, composed of volunteers, mostly workers and peasants. In the summer, these young armed troops were forced to fight on several fronts:
o against the Turks in the districts of Bortchalo, Borjomi, Alkhaltsikhé and Alkhalkalaki,
o against the Ossetians pro-bolchevik insurgents
o against the Russian “White” troops of Denikin who didn’t accept the independence of Georgia,
o against the Bolshevik troops at the pass of Darial, and on the Black Sea coast in Abkhazia.
July.Execution of the czar.
October.Blockade of Russia by the Entente Powers that sent troops to fight against the Red Army, alongside the counter revolutionary “White” troops.Civil war in Russia.30, Turkey signs the Mudros armistice with the allies.
November.Beginning of the German army’s defeat.3, Austria-Hungary signs the armistice of Villa Giusti. 8, The Bolshevik power denounces the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. 9. Abdication of Wilhelm II.
11 November.Allied victory.
December.German troops leave Georgia. They are replaced by British troops.
Border conflict with Armenia in the region of Lori.
25 January. Plenary session of the Paris Peace Conference.
28 January. The Georgian Assembly adopts the Agrarian reform submitted on behalf of the Georgian Social Democrat party by Noé KHOMERIKI, Minister of Agriculture. This reform allows a fair redistribution of land to the Georgian peasantry.
“Our socialism took on a specific Georgian character on the agrarian question. Peasants received as private property the confiscated arable land, to which the traditional socialist doctrine was opposed. It was our position from the beginning, since the party’s creation, as explained above. At our previous economic arguments were now added national arguments. Our basic idea was that the vast majority of the Georgian people, that is to say the peasants, had to become aware that independent Georgia gave them the land, gave them new means of existence. So, in the homeland, incontestably the agrarian reform became the national reform.” N. JORDANIA in “My Past “.
Agricultural workers and peasant owners comprised 80% of the Georgian people. The other social classes, craftsman and workers, 20%. The bourgeoisie was almost nonexistent. The railways employed 15,000 workers, the coal mines of Tkivibouli and Tkartcheli 4,000 miners, the manganese mines of Tchiatura, 2,000 miners.
Pierre Renaudel, a national leader of the SFIO (French socialist party) close to Jean-Jaures, deputy, leader of the newspaper “l’Humanité” during the first world war, wrote the foreword of the Agrarian Reform in Georgia, in the French edition.
February .Elections to the Constituent Assembly of Georgia.
With 15 opposing lists of candidates , one could fear the splintering of the votes. Nothing of the kind happened; the vast majority of voters gave its votes to the social-democrat candidates who won 109 of the 130 seats.
The voters were all the citizens of the Republic, of any sex, over twenty years of age, without distinction of ethnicity or religion, and without any census restriction. Elections were conducted a holiday, by electoralists , in conditions insuring the most absolute secret vote. The election results were calculated considering the whole country as a single district, and the 130 Assembly seats were divided between the groups who have submitted lists of candidates, proportionally to the number of votes won by each list.
Distribution of seats in the Constituent Assembly:
Social Democrats………………… 109
National Democrats………………… 8
Socialist Federalists………………. 8
Socialist Revolutionaries……… 5
The overall results gave the following: Social Democrates: 408.541 voices; Socialist Federalists: 33.630; National Democrats: 30.128; Socialist revolutionaries: 21.453; Radicals: 3.107; Members of Dachnak party: 2.353. The other lists obtained each one less than 2,000 votes.
The Constituent Assembly of Georgia gathered on March 12. Nicolas (Carlo) TCHEÏDZE, member of the Social Democrat party,was elected to the Assembly’s Presidency. The Assembly ratified the Independence Act on May 26, 1918.
Georgia adopted a Western type of democratic structures. At the same session, the National Assembly entrusted to a commission the work out the Constitution of the Republic’s project, giving a legal form to the political organization which existed alread, de facto, in the institutions and the constitutional practice followed by Georgia.”. Publication Paris, February 1922
According to the Constitution that the Assembly worked out: “The sovereignty belongs to the entire nation. The Parliament shall exercise this sovereignty within the limits fixed by the Constitution. “Article 52, and, “the representative body of the Georgian Republic is the Parliament of Georgia, composed of deputies elected by universal, equal, direct, secret and proportional suffrage.” “Article 46
The head of State is the Chairman of the Government. “The Chairman of the Government elected by the Parliament is the Supreme representative of the Republic He appoints the Ministers and representatives of Georgia to the foreign powers and receives accreditation of the representatives of these powers. If the governmental decision is obstructed, the Chairman shall have the right to recourse the armed force of the Republic while informing the Parliament immediately. For the implementation of laws the Chairman issues orders and instructions but without the right to suspend or obstruct the implementation of a law.” Article 70
A coalition Government was proposed by the social democrat majority to other parties. Faced with their refusal, a Government, exclusively composed of members of the Social Democrat party, was formed.
o Noé JORDANIA Chairman of the Government
o Noé RAMICHVILI Minister of Interior, National Education and War
o Evgeni GUEGUETCHKORI Minister of Foreign Affairs and Justice
o Noe KHOMERIKI Minister of Agririan Reform, Labour and Communications
o Constantin KANDELAKI Minister of Finance, Trade and Industry
o Irakli TSERETELI Plenipotentiary representative of the Government
o Akaki TCHENKELI, Plenipotentiary representative of the Government in Europe
Noé JORDANIA surrounded himself with personal advisors: Niko NIKOLADZE (National Democrat), Ivané ZOURABICHVILI (National Democrat), Giorgi LASKHICHVILI (Social-federalist), Giorgi GVAZAVA (National Democrat), Giorgi JOUROULI (National Democrat)
April. 1th Congress of Trade Unions.
The State occupied a predominant place in industry and transportation. The cooperative sector plays an important role in urban areas.
17. Georgian troops move forward up to the River Mekhadyr (Abkhazia), after having repelled the DENIKIN White troops’ attack, who are trying to invade Georgia.
18. Georgian troops repel the advance of Turkish troops. 20. They seize the city of Ardahan, occupied by the Turks.
27. In Tbilisi, opening of the Conference of the Transcaucasian republics. E. GUEGUETCHKORI represents Georgia, TIGRANIAN Armenia, KHAN KHOÏSKY Azerbaijan. The Republic of the Mountaineers’ delegation doesn’t attend the first Conference.
May.The British government, which is supporting DENIKIN’ s troops, seeks to put pressure on the Government of Georgia in order to get its support for the White Russian troops.
16. Arrival in Tbilisi of an Italian Military Mission.
26. Parades and demonstrations commemorating the National day.
June. Sir Oliver Wardrop, a good friend of Georgia, became the first British Commissioner of Transcaucasus in Tbilissi.
June 16. A mutual defense agreement is signed between the Republics of Georgia and Azerbaijan. The delegation of Georgia is composed of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, E. GUEGUETCHKORI, the Minister of War, N. RAMICHVILI, the aid de camp, General GUEDEVANOF and a member of the Superior Council of War, General ODICHELIDZE.
Mid June.DENIKIN troops occupy the cities of the Republic of the Mountaineers of Caucasus. The Mountaineers are organizing resistance in the mountains and the countryside.
22. The bi-weekly “Independent Georgia”, published in French, becomes weekly.
28. Signature of the Versailles Treaty Peace between Germany and allied powers. The Covenant of the League of Nations (League) is incorporated as a preamble to the text of the Treaty of peace. The Treaty had been prepared by the Peace Conference (Paris, January 18, 1919 – August 10, 1920) who also developed the four secondary treaties: with Austria (The treaty of Saint-Germain-en Laye), Hungary (Trianon Treaty), Bulgaria (Treaty of Neuilly) and Turkey (Treaty of Sevres). These treaties deeply modify the map of Europe. Moreover, Turkey is limited to Constantinople and Asia minor.
End of June. An Italian company exploits the forest wealth of Georgia. A British Bank settles down in Georgia.
Georgian cooperative societies organize their cooperative bank.
July.A Georgian delegation takes part in the Peace Conference. Georgia sent to Europe a special delegation chaired by Nicolas (Carlo) TCHEÏDZE, with the mission of obtainlng the legal recognition of the new State.
August (beginning). The French Government accuses the Georgian Government of slowing down the help to Armenia. The Georgian Government replies to this unfounded accusation.
31. The Assembly of representatives of Muslim Georgia in Batumi elects Mamed-Beg ABACHIDZE as President and asks to connect the Batumi district with “the motherland”, Georgia.
September.An Armenian-Georgian common management of the area of Bortchalo is organized under the control of British troops. 13, Bolshevik attacks against the Georgian generals.
October 2, General HARBORD, the Chief of staff of the United States is on visit in Georgia.
October and November, the Bolsheviks organize unrests, protests and armed demonstrations. Noe RAMICHVILI quickly intervenes with the Army and National Guard.
January 10. The League of Nations becomes operational following the ratification of the Treaty of Versailles by Germany and three of the main partners. The 11, Georgia is recognized de facto by France, Great Britain and Italy.
Starting in February – after the decision of the Entente Supreme Council to transform Batumi into a free port – meetings, public meetings, press articles re-launch the debate about the return to the Republic of Georgia of the city of Batumi, occupied by the British troops.
March. Multiple provocations from the Volunteers army (Denikin’s “White” Russians troops) stationed in Batumi, which expresses its opposition to the return of this region to the Republic of Georgia.
The President of the Muslim Georgia Assembly, M. ABACHIDZE presents a memorandum – wishing for the return of Batumi and its region to the Republic of Georgia, to Oliver WARDROP, the British High Commissioner.
Conference of the Transcaucasian Republics. The Georgian Government tries to mitigate the divergences between Armenian and Azerbaijani delegations while, on the field, battles intensify between the armed forces of the two republics.
8. First court session with a popular jury, in Georgia. On the list of jury members, there are 14 women and 19 men. Nationalities are represented: 25 Georgians, 5 Armenians and 3 Russians.
30. A diplomatic mission of the Republic of Poland arrives in Tbilisi. It represents Poland interests in the three Caucasian Republics.
April.4, Comte de MARTEL, High Commissioner of France, arrives in Georgia. A Georgian military delegation – led by General ODICHELIDZE (Under Secretary of State of the Ministry of War) and colonel ERISTAVI – is received in France.
After an agreement between the Azeri Turkophiles and Bolsheviks, Soviet power is proclaimed in Baku.
The P.C.R. Caucasus Office (kavbjuro) is created.
27. Azerbaijan is Sovietized.
May. On the night 2 to 3: failed coup attempt of Russian agents to take control of the military school of Georgia and to instigate a revolt of the NCO students against the Government.
On the night 3 to 4: an invasion attempt of Georgia by the Red Army is foiled at the border (Red Bridge) between Georgia and Azerbaijan (occupied by the Soviet Red Army troops). Immediate reaction of the Georgian army and National Guard (former People’s Guard).
7. The Democratic Republic of Georgia and the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic (RSFSR), conclude a Treaty of Recognition of Georgian Independence by Soviet Russia. Its two first articles determine the status of Georgia towards Soviet Russia:
-Article I: Based on the right proclaimed by the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic of all peoples to fully dispose of themselves including the right to total withdrawal from the state of which they form a part, Russia recognizes without reservations the independence and the sovereignty of the Georgian State, and voluntarily renounces all sovereign rights which belonged to Russia with respect of the Georgian people and territory.
-Article II: Based on the principles proclaimed in the foregoing Article I, Russia agrees to renounce all intervention in the internal affairs of Georgia.
Precarious economic situation: serious budget deficit, high inflation.
The Communist Party (CP) is legalized.
26. The anniversary of the Independence Day is widely celebrated in all towns and villages of Georgia.
June 1, signature between the Democratic Republic of Georgia and the Azerbaijan Soviet Republic of an economic Treaty; 27, The Soviet Russia opens its Consulate in Tbilisi.
July. The 1, the Batumi district returns to Georgia. 6, The White Russian troops evacuate the city and leave for Crimea. 7, in front of the allies’ military delegations, the English troops leave Georgia and abandon the Batumi district. The Georgian army led by Generals KVINITADZE and ZAKARIADZE, enter the city.
Bolshevik conspiracy unmasked in Sukhumi.
2nd Congress of the Georgian Social Democratic party
2. Beginning of Aviation week, held to raise funds for the creation of a military aviation.
10. Treaty of Sevres (never ratified by Turkey) which will lead to the Turkish attack against Armenia.
26. Commissioning of telephone and Telegraph apparatus manufactured by the Georgian Post office administration.
14-30, Visit of a delegation of the International Socialist in Georgia, consisting of:
oRamsay MAC DONALD, Thomas SHAW and Mrs. SNOWDEN (Great Britain)
o Emile VANDERVELDE, Camille HUYSMANSand Louis de BROUCKERE (Belgium)
o Karl and Louise KAUSTSKY (Germany)
September-November 1920, Karl and Louise KAUSTSKY are visiting Georgia and continue their investigation of the Georgian Republic. Back in Germany, Karl KAUTSKY writes his book: “Georgia: a Social Democratic Peasant Republic “.
In November, Georgia requests admission to the League of Nations.
The member parties of the Second International support this application by press campaigns in European countries.
The Red Army rescue Armenia attacked by Turkish troops, as a reward for its sovietization.
Georgian troops are mobilized and most are sent to the borders with Azerbaijan and Armenia.
In December, the Assembly of the League of Nations has to deal with the admission of Georgia in their organization. Although it receives double the votes of the other States who had applied at the same time, Georgia doesn’t collect the minimum needed for admission.
On January 27, the independence of Georgia is recognized de jure by the Supreme Council of the Entente (England, France, Italy, Japan, Belgium). See letter of A. Briand. It is proclaimed by Germany, Turkey and Argentina. The recognition de facto of the Georgian State dated from January 1920. The example of the Supreme Council is followed by Poland, Romania, Austria, Mexico, etc.
On the night of February 11, without any preliminary diplomatic warning or declaration of war, the troops of the Soviet army XI (which were in Armenia, already occupied by the Soviets), cross the frontiers of Georgia at various points and head toward Tbilisi. And so,suddenly Soviet Russia violates the Treaty signed on May 7, 1920, with Georgia, by which it solemnly recognized the independence of Georgia and guaranteed its borders.
Two days after this invasion from the Armenian side, this same Red Army XI’s troops located in Soviet Azerbaijan, are launched against Georgia and threaten Tbilisi. Then, the 4th and 5th Red armies march from the North Caucasus on Georgia, toward Tbilisi and Koutaïs; finally on the Black Sea coast, Red Army troops head toward Soukhoum. That is how Soviet Russia invaded Georgia with three armies, and attacked it from five different sides at the same time.
21 February. Vote by the Constituent Assembly of the final text of the Constitution.
23 February. Turkey, to whom Soviet Russia promised to yield the two coveted Georgian provinces of Artvin and Ardahan, declares war on Georgia. The Georgian army has now to fight against Russian and Turkish troops
25 February. Fall of the city of Tbilisi. The Government, army and National Guard withdraw to Batumi.
The same day, the French President Millerand granted a solemn audience to the Plenipotentiary Minister of Georgia, Akaki Tchenkeli and the Georgian Legation opens in Paris. It will remain until July 1933. ( Report in the French review “Revue Internationale”). Photo.
16 March. Signature of a commercial Treaty between Soviet Russia and England, which includes a non-intervention clause
On March 17, the Assembly, meeting in Batumi under bombardment, requests the Government to go into exile to continue the fight. The Georgian Government, which refuses to surrender, accepts the French proposal of political asylum.
On 18 March the National Government, acting on the decision of the Constituent Assembly, leaves Georgia entrusted with the mission of defending the sovereign interest of independent Georgia before the public opinion of the civilized world and before foreign powers.
March 19, the Georgian troops under the command of General MAZNIACHVILI defeat the Turkish troops attacking Batumi. This ultimate exploit of the troops of the 1st Republic allow to keep Batumi and its region as part of Georgia.
The fighting lasted 6 weeks.
The years of exile and fight
This blog will later return to succeeding events which unfolded on the national territory as well as outside, and particularly those relating to the 1924 insurrection.
The National Government chaired by N. JORDANIA will be continuing his fight for the independence of Georgia on and out of the national territory.
oOn the national territory: thus, in Georgia, political resistance was organized very quickly through demonstrations, strikes, petitions and other actions. It was directed by the Georgian Social Democratic Party which continued to supervise and organize ten thousand activists and to assist them in their struggles.
April 10, 1921: with the authorization of the occupation troops, the Central Committee of the Social Democratic Party of Georgia organized a public meeting: 3,000 people participated. The Social Democratic Party published a motion where he declared:
1 – Under the new conditions, our political line remains the same as previously: toward Socialism through Democracy,
2 – The social democratic party re-affirms that the independence of Georgia always remains one of the bases of its action, and this action will, as before, strengthen this independence.
3 – In view of the abnormal and complicated conditions in which Georgia finds itself, we wish that the International Workers’ Association intervene in a friendly manner in the domestic relationships within the Working class of Georgia. We would like that the two currents of the Labor movement of Europe – Socialist and Communist– form a joint commission under the control of which would take place in Georgia a free vote that would express the workers’ will.
But in May 1921, the occupation troops arrested more than 2,000 activists of the social democratic party; this marked the start of arrests and repression aiming to abolish the very memory of the 1st Republic, embodying an independent and democratic Georgia.
o Outside of Georgia,the action of the National Government in exile will make the voice of free Georgia heard, tirelessly denouncing its annexation by Soviet Russia flouting international Law. This permanent work with the free world’s governments, International Instances, European Socialist Parties, trade unions, and the numerous books and articles devoted to the Georgian issue, will allow the voice of free Georgia to be heard and oppose a historically true account to the false propaganda emanating from Moscow.