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Georgian Uprising on the Texel Island in 1945

Often described as the "Europe's last battlefield of WWII", the Texel Uprising refers to the revolt of the Wehrmacht’s 822nd Georgian Battalion against the German forces on the island of Texel, a Dutch municipality and island, in April 1945. The island of Texel was important for its strategic location near the Dutch coast in the Atlantic Ocean and was heavily fortified by the Germans as part of their “Atlantic Wall” defense system. Among the units serving here was the 822nd Georgian Battalion raised from the Georgians who had been captured on the Eastern front and who agreed to enlist in the Wehrmacht in the hopes of liberating Georgia from the Soviet rule. The battalion, some 800 strong, was part of the Wehrmacht's Georgian Legion and was redeployed in late 1943 from the Eastern Front. Memoirs of some of surviving legionnaires (Sh. Maghlakelidze and G. Gabliani) reveal that Georgian legionnaires opposed redeployment from the Russian front since their goal was to fight the Soviet forces and liberate Georgia. As a result, the morale of the unit plummeted and willingness to fight for the Nazi regiment declined. With the German army on the defensive in early 1945, the Georgians on Texel decided to turn against their former allies.

On the night of 5–6 April 1945, the Georgians, led by Lieutenant Loladze, rose against the Germans and, after killing some 400 German soldiers, seized a large portion of the island but failed to capture crucial naval batteries to the north and south of the island. Within days, the Germans poured in reinforcements and launched a counter offensive supported by armor. The vicious fighting continued for an entire month, even after the German capitulation in the Netherlands (5 May) and general surrender to the Allies on 8 May. The combat ended only after the Allies diverted Canadian forces to take control of Texel on 20 May 1945, almost two weeks after the war was over in Europe. Nevertheless, the Georgians refused to surrender and the Canadian commander was so impressed by their resistance efforts that he refused to classify them as enemy personnel and allowed them to retain arms until their evacuation on 16 June 1945. The uprising claimed lives of over 500 Georgians, some 120 Texel residents and between 800–1,000 Germans; the fallen Georgians were buried in a common grave known as Lieutenant Loladze’s Cemetery.

The Canadian authorities praised the Georgians as valiant Soviet allies whose rebellion had resulted in heavy German casualties and requested permission to rehabilitate them. However, the survivors from the Texel Rebellion were eventually sent back to the USSR where they were arrested on charges of treason, and most of them were either imprisoned or exiled. Their rehabilitation occurred posthumously in the 1950s. Their story received publicity in Georgia when the Soviet authorities distorted some of its facts in order to use the story for propaganda purposes, and the Georgians were portrayed as prisoners of war and not as active servicemen in the Wehrmacht. The Aeronautical Museum on Texel features a permanent exhibition dealing with this event.

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