Georgian National Committee in Berlin and German Encouragement of Georgian Separatism

Hew Strachan

(excerpt from the book” The First World War”/Oxford/2001/p. 718)

In September 1914 a Georgian nationalist committee, under the direction of Prince Georg Machabeli and Michael Tsereteli, was established inBerlin. Germany recognized a potentially independent Georgia. Matschabeli asked the Germans for 50,000 rifles and 5 million rounds, Falkenhayn offered 14,000 outmoded rifles and 1.4 million rounds, but then, owing to to the blocade of Budapest-Bucharest route, could not deliver them.

German support for Georgia was therefore nominal rather than actual. But its motivation – to create an army out of nothing but diplomacy – was one which Matschabeli kept in play. In April 1915 he would talk grandly of raising a force of 500,000 Caucasians in two or three months.*

Given the fact that Germany could not prime the pump with munitions, the Georgians had in addition to speak to Talaat and Enver. This Leo Keresselidze did in September. The Georgian aim was independence for Georgia and neutrality in the Caucasus; their kingdom, once independent, would embrace not only its Christian population but also the Muslims. Keresselidze’s objective, therefore, was an alliance withTurkey, not Turkish suzerainty. Enver could not afford to renounce Georgian manpower, but nor could he bring himself to abandon the pan-Turkish dream, If Turkey wished to have a say in the settlement of the region it would have to use its own forces and upstage its German ally.

* Bibl, Kaukasus-politik, 60-1, 63-4, 74, 234-5; Jaschke, Welt des Islams, XXIII (1941), 13-14; Zechlin, Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte (1961), 354

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