How Stalin and Hitler enabled each other’s crimes

Mass murder

History and its woes

How Stalin and Hitler enabled each other’s crimes

Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin. By Timothy Snyder. Basic Books; 524 pages; $29.95. Bodley Head; £20. Buy from,

IN THE middle of the 20th century Europe’s two totalitarian empires, Nazi Germany and Stalin’s Soviet Union, killed 14m non-combatants, in peacetime and in war. The who, why, when, where and how of these mass murders is the subject of a gripping and comprehensive new book by Timothy Snyder of Yale University.

The term coined in the book’s title encapsulates the thesis. The “bloodlands” are the stretch of territory from the Baltic to the Black Sea where Europe’s most murderous regimes did their most murderous work. The bloodlands were caught between two fiendish projects: Adolf Hitler’s ideas of racial supremacy and eastern expansion, and the Soviet Union’s desire to remake society according to the communist template. That meant shooting, starving and gassing those who didn’t fit in. Just as Stalin blamed the peasants for the failure of collectivisation, Hitler blamed the Jews for his military failures in the east. As Mr Snyder argues, “Hitler and Stalin thus shared a certain politics of tyranny: they brought about catastrophes, blamed the enemy of their choice, and then used the death of millions to make the case that their policies were necessary or desirable. Each of them had a transformative Utopia, a group to be blamed when its realisation proved impossible, and then a policy of mass murder that could be proclaimed as a kind of ersatz victory.”

Mr Snyder’s book is revisionist history of the best kind: in spare, closely argued prose, with meticulous use of statistics, he makes the reader rethink some of the best-known episodes in Europe’s modern history. For those who are wedded to the simplistic schoolbook notions that the Hitlerites were the mass murderers and the Soviets the liberators, or that the killing started in 1939 and ended in 1945, Mr Snyder’s theses will be thought-provoking or shocking. Even those who pride themselves on knowing their history will find themselves repeatedly brought up short by his insights, contrasts and comparisons. Some ghastly but well-known episodes recede; others emerge from the shadows.

Sometimes the memories are faded because so few were left to remember. Those who suffered horribly but lived to tell the tale naturally get a better hearing than the millions in unmarked graves. Mr Snyder’s book straightens the record in favour of the voiceless and forgotten.

He starts with the 3.3m in Soviet Ukraine who died in the famine of 1933 that followed Stalin’s ruthlessly destructive collectivisation. He goes on to mark the 250,000-odd Soviet citizens, chiefly Poles, shot because of their ethnicity in the purges of 1937-38. Sometimes the NKVD simply picked Polish-sounding names from the telephone directory, or arrested en masse all those attending a Polish church service.

Some stories remained untold because they were inconvenient. About as many people died in the German bombing of Warsaw in 1939 as in the allied bombing of Dresden in 1945. Post-war Poland was in no state to gain recognition for that. The Nazi-Soviet alliance of August 1939 was “cemented in blood”, Stalin said approvingly. Few wanted to remember that two years later, when the Germans invaded the Soviet Union in Operation Barbarossa. The Western allies did little to stop the Holocaust. Few wanted reminding that the only government that took direct action to help the Jews was the Polish one: seven of the first eight operations conducted in Warsaw by the underground Polish Home Army were in support of the ghetto uprising. (After the war, the Communist authorities executed as “fascists” Polish soldiers who had helped the Jews.)

Stalin regarded all Soviet prisoners-of-war as traitors. Their German captors starved them to death in their millions; nobody dared mourn them. The Holocaust, too, did not fit into Soviet historiography, especially as post-war anti-Semitism intensified (“Every Jew is a nationalist and an agent of American intelligence,” Stalin said in 1952). Memorials to murdered Jews carried not the Star of David but the five-pointed Soviet one, and referred blandly to “Soviet citizens” or “victims of fascism”.

Many of the stories in the book are already known as national or ethnic tragedies. Poles focus on the Warsaw uprising; Jews on Auschwitz; Russians on the siege of Leningrad; Ukrainians on the great famine. Mr Snyder’s book weaves the stories together, explaining how the horrors interacted and reinforced each other. Hitler learnt a lot from Stalin, and vice versa.

Mr Snyder shifts the usual geographical focus away from the perpetrator countries to the places where they first colluded and then collided. Germany and Russia (and Germans and Russians) mostly fared better, or less horribly, than the places in between (there were more Jews in the Polish city of Lodz alone than in Berlin and Vienna combined). No corner of what are now Belarus and Ukraine was spared. Much of Germany and even more of Russia was unscathed, at least physically, by war.

He also corrects exaggerations, misapprehensions and simplifications. The bestial treatment of slave labourers in concentration camps, and the use of gas chambers, are commonly seen as the epitomes of Nazi persecution. But the Germans also shot and starved millions of people, as well as gassed and worked them to death. In just a few days in 1941, the Nazis shot more Jews in the east than they had inmates in all their concentration camps.

“Bloodlands” has aroused fierce criticism from those who believe that the Soviet Union, for all its flaws, cannot be compared to the Third Reich, which pioneered ethnic genocide. Doing this, the critics argue, legitimises ultranationalists in eastern Europe who downplay the Holocaust, exaggerate their own suffering—and dodge guilt for their own collaboration with Hitler’s executioners.

That argument is powerful but unfair. Many people say stupid things about history. Mr Snyder is not one. He does not challenge the Holocaust’s central place in 20th-century history. Nor does he overlook Soviet suffering at the hands of Hitler or the heroism of the soldiers who destroyed the Third Reich. But he makes a point that needs reinforcement, not least in Russia where public opinion and officialdom both retain a soft spot for Stalin’s wartime leadership. The Soviet Union’s ethnic murders predated Nazi Germany’s. Stalin was not directly responsible for the Holocaust, but his pact with the Nazis paved the way for Hitler’s killing of Jews in the east.

Mr Snyder’s scrupulous and nuanced book steers clear of the sterile, sloganising exchanges about whether Stalin was as bad as Hitler, or whether Soviet mass murder in Ukraine or elsewhere is a moral equivalent of the Nazis’ extermination of the Jews. What it does do, admirably, is to explain and record. Both totalitarian empires turned human beings into statistics, and their deaths into a necessary step towards a better future. Mr Snyder’s book explains, with sympathy, fairness and insight, how that happened, and to whom. Just don’t read it before bedtime.

Savagery in the East

How Stalin and then Hitler turned the borderlands of Eastern Europe into killing fields


The story of World War II, like that of most wars, usually gets told by the victors. Diplomatic and military accounts are set largely in the West and star the morally upright Allies—the U.S., Britain and Soviet Union—in battles against fascism. The Holocaust gets its own separate history, as a case apart in its genocidal intent and human tragedy.

Timothy Snyder’s “Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin” forces a dramatic shift in these perceptions. First, there is the setting: the flat and marshy eastern borderlands—inhabited by Jews, Poles, Ukrainians, Belarusians and others—that Stalin and then Hitler turned into what Mr. Snyder calls the “bloodlands.” No GIs fought on or liberated this soil, so the fate of its people never entered the collective Western imagination. Yet this was the true heart of the European conflict. By Mr. Snyder’s “conservative” reckoning, 14 million people were shot, deliberately starved or gassed while Hitler and Stalin were in power. All these dead were noncombatants. Mr. Snyder puts a third of the total on Stalin’s account.

Both Hitler and Stalin dreamed of a new European order, one in the name of a master race, the other of a master class. Their visions met in the borderlands. In his use of political mass murder to achieve it, Stalin was the trailblazer, an elder statesman of terror. The Soviet-made famine of 1932-33, which killed more than three million Ukrainians, launched an era of horror that ended only with the end of the war.

Among his other goals in “Bloodlands,” Mr. Snyder attempts to put the Holocaust in context—to restore it, in a sense, to the history of the wider European conflict. This is a task that no historian can attempt without risking controversy. Yet far from minimizing Jewish suffering, “Bloodlands” gives a fuller picture of the Nazi killing machine. Auschwitz, which wasn’t purely a “death camp,” lives on in our memory due in large part to those who lived to tell the tale. Through his access to Eastern European sources, Mr. Snyder also takes the reader to places like Babi Yar, Treblinka and Belzec. These were Nazi mass-murder sites that left virtually no survivors.

Yet Mr. Snyder’s book does make it clear that Hitler’s “Final Solution,” the purge of European Jewry, was not a fully original idea. A decade before, Stalin had set out to annihilate the Ukrainian peasant class, whose “national” sentiments he perceived as a threat to his Soviet utopia. The collectivization of agriculture was the weapon of choice. Implemented savagely, collectivization brought famine. In the spring of 1933 people in Ukraine were dying at a rate of 10,000 per day.

Stalin then turned on other target groups in the Soviet Union, starting with the kulaks—supposedly richer farmers, whom Stalin said needed to be “liquidated as a class”—and various ethnic minorities. In the late 1930s, Mr. Snyder argues, “the most persecuted” national group in Europe wasn’t—as many of us would assume—Jews in Nazi Germany, a relatively small community of 400,000 whose numbers declined after the imposition of race laws forced many into emigration at a time when this was still possible. According to Mr. Snyder, the hardest hit at that time were the 600,000 or so Poles living within the Soviet Union.

Convinced that this group represented a fifth column, Stalin ordered the NKVD, a precursor to the KGB, to “keep on digging out and cleaning out this Polish filth.” Mr. Snyder writes that before World War II started, 111,091 Soviet Poles were executed. This grim period is little known in Poland itself, but its detailed recounting here shows how a determined totalitarian machine could decimate a national group. Apologists for Stalin, in the West and elsewhere, have insisted that his Great Terror was needed to prepare the Soviets for a coming showdown with Hitler. Mr. Snyder destroys this argument.

Barbarism reached new lows after the Wehrmacht and the Red Army invaded Poland in 1939. The Ribbentrop-Molotov pact, signed in August a week before the blitzkrieg, had split sovereign Poland between the Nazi and Soviet allies. The invading Germans obeyed orders not to spare the civilian population. But the Soviets were more experienced then at brutality. In the spring of 1940, Stalin ordered the murder of 21,768 Polish officers in what came to be known as the Katyn massacres. Hundreds of thousands of other people from “enemy” classes and nationalities were deported to the east, where many died.

Plans for the Holocaust fell into place after Hitler’s surprise attack on the Soviet Union in 1941 failed to produce the quick victory that the Nazis expected. The killing began east of the Ribbentrop-Molotov line. Most of the victims were shot over pits. Nearly half of the millions of Jews killed by the Germans died in lands taken from the Soviets. In territory that the Nazis occupied in 1939, the extermination started later. The innovation was the gas chamber in the main “death factories” at Treblinka, Chelmno, Belzec, Majdanek and Sobibor, which took in Jews only to kill them. By the time the sixth death camp came on line at Birkenau, near Auschwitz, in early 1943, more than three-quarters of the Jews killed in the Holocaust, and most Soviet and Polish Jews, were already dead.

In the grim postscript to World War II, millions of Poles, Ukrainians, Balts and Germans were ethnically cleansed from lands they had occupied for generations. Churchill and Roosevelt let Stalin redraw Europe’s borders, and all the bloodlands fell into his hands. Unlike Hitler, Stalin realized his dreams of a global empire. His last murderous act was to launch another anti-Semitic purge, in late 1952, before he himself died in early 1953.

“Bloodlands” manages to clarify as well as darken our view of this era. “To dismiss the Nazis or the Soviets as beyond . . . historical understanding is to fall into their moral trap,” Mr. Snyder writes. “The safer route is to realize that their motives for mass killing, however revolting to us, made sense to them.”

The Worst of the Madness

NOVEMBER 11, 2010

Anne Applebaum

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Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin
by Timothy Snyder
Basic Books, 524 pages, $29.95

Stalin’s Genocides
by Norman M. Naimark
Princeton University Press, 163 pp., $26.95

Once, in an attempt to explain the history of his country to outsiders, the Polish poet Czesław Miłosz described the impact of war, occupation, and the Holocaust on ordinary morality. Mass violence, he explained, could shatter a man’s sense of natural justice. In normal times,

had he stumbled upon a corpse on the street, he would have called the police. A crowd would have gathered, and much talk and comment would have ensued. Now he knows he must avoid the dark body lying in the gutter, and refrain from asking unnecessary questions….

Murder became ordinary during wartime, wrote Miłosz, and was even regarded as legitimate if it was carried out on behalf of the resistance. In the name of patriotism, young boys from law-abiding, middle-class families became hardened criminals, thugs for whom “the killing of a man presents no great moral problem.” Theft became ordinary too, as did falsehood and fabrication. People learned to sleep through sounds that would once have roused the whole neighborhood: the rattle of machine-gun fire, the cries of men in agony, the cursing of the policeman dragging the neighbors away.

For all of these reasons, Miłosz explained, “the man of the East cannot take Americans [or other Westerners] seriously.” Because they hadn’t undergone such experiences, they couldn’t seem to fathom what they meant, and couldn’t seem to imagine how they had happened either. “Their resultant lack of imagination,” he concluded, “is appalling.”1

But Miłosz’s bitter analysis did not go far enough. Almost sixty years after the poet wrote those words, it is no longer enough to say that we Westerners lack imagination. Timothy Snyder, a Yale historian whose past work has ranged from Habsburg Vienna to Stalinist Kiev, takes the point one step further. In Bloodlands, a brave and original history of mass killing in the twentieth century, he argues that we still lack any real knowledge of what happened in the eastern half of Europe in the twentieth century. And he is right: if we are American, we think “the war” was something that started with Pearl Harbor in 1941 and ended with the atomic bomb in 1945. If we are British, we remember the Blitz of 1940 (and indeed are commemorating it energetically this year) and the liberation of Belsen. If we are French, we remember Vichy and the Resistance. If we are Dutch we think of Anne Frank. Even if we are German we know only a part of the story.

Snyder’s ambition is to persuade the West—and the rest of the world—to see the war in a broader perspective. He does so by disputing popular assumptions about victims, death tolls, and killing methods—of which more in a moment—but above all about dates and geography. The title of this book, Bloodlands, is not a metaphor. Snyder’s “bloodlands,” which others have called “borderlands,” run from Poznan in the West to Smolensk in the East, encompassing modern Poland, the Baltic states, Ukraine, Belarus, and the edge of western Russia (see map on page 10). This is the region that experienced not one but two—and sometimes three—wartime occupations. This is also the region that suffered the most casualties and endured the worst physical destruction.

More to the point, this is the region that experienced the worst of both Stalin’s and Hitler’s ideological madness. During the 1930s, 1940s, and early 1950s, the lethal armies and vicious secret policemen of two totalitarian states marched back and forth across these territories, each time bringing about profound ethnic and political changes. In this period, the city of Lwów was occupied twice by the Red Army and once by the Wehrmacht. After the war ended it was called L’viv, not Lwów, it was no longer in eastern Poland but in western Ukraine, and its Polish and Jewish pre-war population had been murdered or deported and replaced by ethnic Ukrainians from the surrounding countryside. In this same period, the Ukrainian city of Odessa was occupied first by the Romanian army and then by the Wehrmacht before being reoccupied by the Soviet Union. Each time power changed hands there were battles and sieges, and each time an army retreated from the city it blew up the harbor or massacred Jews. Similar stories can be told about almost any place in the region.

This region was also the site of most of the politically motivated killing in Europe—killing that began not in 1939 with the invasion of Poland, but in 1933, with the famine in Ukraine. Between 1933 and 1945, fourteen million people died there, not in combat but because someone made a deliberate decision to murder them. These deaths took place in the bloodlands, and not accidentally so: “Hitler and Stalin rose to power in Berlin and Moscow,” writes Snyder, “but their visions of transformation concerned above all the lands between.”

Beginning in the 1930s, Stalin conducted his first utopian agricultural experiment in Ukraine, where he collectivized the land and conducted a “war” for grain with the kulaks, the “wealthy” peasants (whose wealth sometimes consisted of a single cow). His campaign rapidly evolved into a war against Ukrainian peasant culture itself, culminating in a mass famine in 1933. In that same year, Hitler came to power and began dreaming of creating Lebensraum, living space, for German colonists in Poland and Ukraine, a project that could only be realized by eliminating the people who lived there.2 In 1941, the Nazis also devised the Hunger Plan, a scheme to feed German soldiers and civilians by starving Polish and Soviet citizens. Once again, the Nazis decided, the produce of Ukraine’s collective farms would be confiscated and redistributed: “Socialism in one country would be supplanted by socialism for the German race.”

Not accidentally, the fourteen million victims of these ethnic and political schemes were mostly not Russians or Germans, but the peoples who inhabited the lands in between. Stalin and Hitler shared a contempt for the very notions of Polish, Ukrainian, and Baltic independence, and jointly strove to eliminate the elites of those countries. Following their invasion of western Poland in 1939, the Germans arrested and murdered Polish professors, priests, intellectuals, and politicians. Following their invasion of eastern Poland in 1939, the Soviet secret police arrested and murdered Polish professors, priests, intellectuals, and politicians. A few months later, Stalin ordered the murder of some 20,000 Polish officers at Katyn and in other forests nearby as well.

Stalin and Hitler also shared a hatred for the Jews who had long flourished in this region, and who were far more numerous there than in Germany or anywhere else in Western Europe. Snyder points out that Jews were fewer than one percent of the German population when Hitler came to power in 1933, and many did manage to flee. Hitler’s vision of a “Jew-free” Europe could thus only be realized when the Wehrmacht invaded the bloodlands, which is where most of the Jews of Europe actually lived. Of the 5.4 million Jews who died in the Holocaust, four million were from the bloodlands. The vast majority of the rest—including the 165,000 German Jews who did not escape—were taken to the bloodlands to be murdered. After the war, Stalin became paranoid about those Soviet Jews who remained, in part because they wanted to perpetuate the memory of the Holocaust. At the end of his life he purged and arrested many thousands of them, though he died too soon to carry out another mass murder.

Above all, this was the region where Nazism and Soviet communism clashed. Although they had signed the Molotov–Ribbentrop pact in 1939, agreeing to divide the bloodlands between them, Stalin and Hitler also came to hate each other. This hatred proved fatal to both German and Soviet soldiers who had the bad luck to become prisoners of war. Both dictators treated captured enemies with deadly utilitarianism. For the Germans, Soviet POWs were expendable: they consumed calories needed by others and, unlike Western POWs, were considered to be subhuman. And so they were deliberately starved to death in hideous “camps” in Poland, Russia, and Belarus that were not camps but death zones. Penned behind barbed wire, often in open fields without food, medicine, shelter, or bedding, they died in extraordinary numbers and with great rapidity. On any given day in the autumn of 1941, as many Soviet POWs died as did British and American POWs during the entire war. In total more than three million perished, mostly within a period of a few months.

In essence the Soviet attitude toward German POWs was no different. When, following the Battle of Stalingrad, the Red Army suddenly found itself with 90,000 prisoners, it also put them in open fields without any food or shelter. Over the next few months, at least half a million German and Axis soldiers would die in Soviet captivity. But as the Red Army began to win the war, it tried harder to keep captives alive, the better to deploy them as forced laborers. According to Soviet statistics, 2.3 million German soldiers and about a million of their allies (from Romania, Italy, Hungary, and Austria, but also France and Holland) eventually wound up in the labor camps of the Gulag, along with some 600,000 Japanese whose fate has been almost forgotten in their native land.3

Some were released after the war and others were released in the 1950s. There wasn’t necessarily any political logic to these decisions. At one point in 1947, at the height of the postwar famine, the NKVD unexpectedly released several hundred thousand war prisoners. There was no political explanation: the Soviet leadership simply hadn’t enough food to keep them all alive. And in the postwar world there were pressures—most of all from the USSR’s new East German client state—to keep them alive. The Nazis had operated without such constraints.

Though some of the anecdotes and statistics may be surprising to those who don’t know this part of the world, scholars will find nothing in Bloodlands that is startlingly new. Historians of the region certainly know that three million Soviet soldiers starved to death in Nazi camps, that most of the Holocaust took place in the East, and that Hitler’s plans for Ukraine were no different from Stalin’s. Snyder’s original contribution is to treat all of these episodes—the Ukrainian famine, the Holocaust, Stalin’s mass executions, the planned starvation of Soviet POWs, postwar ethnic cleansing—as different facets of the same phenomenon. Instead of studying Nazi atrocities or Soviet atrocities separately, as many others have done, he looks at them together. Yet Snyder does not exactly compare the two systems either. His intention, rather, is to show that the two systems committed the same kinds of crimes at the same times and in the same places, that they aided and abetted one another, and above all that their interaction with one another led to more mass killing than either might have carried out alone.

The shaded areas are what Timothy Snyder calls the bloodlands. Anne Applebaum writes, 'Between 1933 and 1945, fourteen million people died there, not in combat but because someone made a deliberate decision to murder them.'

He also wants to show that this interaction had consequences for the inhabitants of the region. From a great distance in time and space, we in the West have the luxury of discussing the two systems in isolation, comparing and contrasting, judging and analyzing, engaging in theoretical arguments about which was worse. But people who lived under both of them, in Poland or in Ukraine, experienced them as part of a single historical moment. Snyder explains:

The Nazi and Soviet regimes were sometimes allies, as in the joint occupation of Poland [from 1939–1941]. They sometimes held compatible goals as foes: as when Stalin chose not to aid the rebels in Warsaw in 1944 [during the Warsaw uprising], thereby allowing the Germans to kill people who would later have resisted communist rule…. Often the Germans and the Soviets goaded each other into escalations that cost more lives than the policies of either state by itself would have.

In some cases, the atrocities carried out by one power eased the way for the other. When the Nazis marched into western Belarus, Ukraine, and the Baltic states in 1941, they entered a region from which the Soviet secret police had deported hundreds of thousands of people in the previous few months, and shot thousands of prisoners in the previous few days. The conquering Germans were thus welcomed by some as “liberators” who might save the population from a genuinely murderous regime. They were also able to mobilize popular anger at these recent atrocities, and in some places to direct some of that anger at local Jews who had, in the public imagination—and sometimes in reality—collaborated with the Soviet Union. It is no accident that the acceleration of the Holocaust occurred at precisely this moment.

To look at the history of mid-twentieth-century Europe in this way also has consequences for Westerners. Among other things, Snyder asks his readers to think again about the most famous films and photographs taken at Belsen and Buchenwald by the British and American soldiers who liberated those camps. These pictures, which show starving, emaciated people, walking skeletons in striped uniforms, stacks of corpses piled up like wood, have become the most enduring images of the Holocaust. Yet the people in these photographs were mostly not Jews: they were forced laborers who had been kept alive because the German war machine needed them to produce weapons and uniforms. Only when the German state began to collapse in early 1945 did they begin to starve to death in large numbers.

The vast majority of Hitler’s victims, Jewish and otherwise, never saw a concentration camp. Although about a million people died because they were sent to do forced labor in German concentration camps, some ten million died in killing fields in Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia—that means they were taken to the woods, sometimes with the assistance of their neighbors, and shot—as well as in German starvation zones and German gas chambers. These gas chambers were not “camps,” Snyder argues, though they were sometimes adjacent to camps, as at Auschwitz:

Under German rule, the concentration camps and the death factories operated under different principles. A sentence to the concentration camp Belsen was one thing, a transport to the death factory Bełz·ec something else. The first meant hunger and labor, but also the likelihood of survival; the second meant immediate and certain death by asphyxiation. This, ironically, is why people remember Belsen and forget Bełz·ec.

He makes a similar point about Stalin’s victims, arguing that although a million died in the Soviet Gulag between 1933 and 1945, an additional six million died from politically induced Soviet famines and in Soviet killing fields. I happen to think Snyder’s numbers are a little low—the figure for Gulag deaths is certainly higher than a million—but the proportions are probably correct. In the period between 1930 and 1953, the number of people who died in labor camps—from hunger, overwork, and cold, while living in wooden barracks behind barbed wire—is far lower than the number who died violently from machine-gun fire combined with the number who starved to death because their village was deprived of food.

The image we have of the prisoner in wooden shoes, dragging himself to work every morning, losing his humanity day by day—the image also created in the brilliant writings of Primo Levi, Elie Wiesel, and Alexander Solzhenitsyn—is in this sense somewhat misleading. In fact, prisoners who could work had at least a chance of staying alive. Prisoners who were too weak to work, or for whom work could not be organized because of war and chaos, were far more likely to die. The 5.4 million Jews murdered in the Holocaust mostly died instantly, in gas chambers or mobile vans or in silent forests. We have no photographs of them, or of their corpses.

The chronological and geographical arguments presented in Bloodlands also complicate the debate over the proper use of the word “genocide.” As not everybody now remembers, this word (from the Greek genos, tribe, and the French –cide) was coined in 1943 by a Polish lawyer of Jewish descent, Raphael Lemkin, who had long been trying to draw the attention of the international community to what he at first called “the crime of barbarity.” In 1933, inspired by news of the Armenian massacre, he had proposed that the League of Nations treat mass murder committed “out of hatred towards a racial, religious or social collectivity” as an international crime. After he fled Nazi-occupied Poland in 1940, Lemkin intensified his efforts. He persuaded the Nuremburg prosecutors to use the word “genocide” during the trials, though not in the verdict. He also got the new United Nations to draft a Convention on Genocide. Finally, after much debate, the General Assembly passed this convention in 1948.

As the Stanford historian Norman Naimark explains in Stalin’s Genocides, the UN’s definition of genocide was deliberately narrow: “Acts committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.” This was because Soviet diplomats had demanded the exclusion of any reference to social, economic, and political groups. Had they left these categories in, prosecution of the USSR for the murder of aristocrats (a social group), kulaks (an economic group), or Trotskyites (a political group) would have been possible.

Although Lemkin himself continued to advocate a broader definition of the term, the idea that the word “genocide” can refer only to the mass murder of an ethnic group has stuck. In fact, until recently the term was used almost exclusively to refer to the Holocaust, the one “genocide” that is recognized as such by almost everybody: the international community, the former Allies, even the former perpetrators.

Perhaps because of that unusually universal recognition, the word has more recently acquired almost magical qualities. Nations nowadays campaign for their historical tragedies to be recognized as “genocide,” and the term has become a political weapon both between and within countries. The disagreement between Armenians and Turks over whether the massacre of Armenians after World War I was “genocide” has been the subject of a resolution introduced in the US Congress. The leaders of the Orange Revolution in Ukraine campaigned to have the Ukrainian famine recognized as “genocide” in international courts (and in January 2010, a court in Kiev did convict Stalin and other high officials of “genocide” against the Ukrainian nation). But the campaign was deliberately dropped when their more pro-Russian (or post-Soviet) opponents came to power. They have since deleted a link to the genocide campaign from the presidential website.

As the story of Lemkin’s genocide campaign well illustrates, this discussion of the proper use of the word has also been dogged by politics from the beginning. The reluctance of intellectuals on the left to condemn communism; the fact that Stalin was allied with Roosevelt and Churchill; the existence of German historians who tried to downplay the significance of the Holocaust by comparing it to Soviet crimes; all of that meant that, until recently, it was politically incorrect in the West to admit that we defeated one genocidal dictator with the help of another. Only now, with the publication of so much material from Soviet and Central European archives, has the extent of the Soviet Union’s mass murders become better known in the West. In recent years, some in the former Soviet sphere of influence—most notably in the Baltic states and Ukraine—have begun to use the word “genocide” in legal documents to describe the Soviet Union’s mass killings too.

Naimark’s short book is a polemical contribution to this debate. Though he acknowledges the dubious political history of the UN convention, he goes on to argue that even under the current definition, Stalin’s attack on the kulaks and on the Ukrainian peasants should count as genocide. So should Stalin’s targeted campaigns against particular ethnic groups. At different times the Soviet secret police hunted down, arrested, and murdered ethnic Poles, Germans, and Koreans who happened to be living in the USSR, and of course they murdered 20,000 Polish officers within a few weeks. A number of small nations, notably the Chechens, were also arrested and deported en masse during the war: men, women, children, and grandparents were put on trains, and sent to live in Central Asia, where they were meant to die and eventually disappear as a nation. A similar fate met the Crimean Tatars.

Like Snyder’s, Naimark’s work has also ranged widely, from his groundbreaking book on the Soviet occupation of East Germany to studies of ethnic cleansing. As a result his argument is authoritative, clear, and hard to dispute. Yet if we take the perspective offered in Bloodlands seriously, we also have to ask whether the whole genocide debate itself—and in particular the long-standing argument over whether Stalin’s murders “qualify”—is not a red herring. If Stalin’s and Hitler’s mass murders were different but not separate, and if neither would have happened in quite the same way without the other, then how can we talk about whether one is genocide and the other is not?

To the people who actually experienced both tyrannies, such definitions hardly mattered. Did the Polish merchant care whether he died because he was a Jew or because he was a capitalist? Did the starving Ukrainian child care whether she had been deprived of food in order to create a Communist paradise or in order to provide calories for the soldiers of the German Reich? Perhaps we need a new word, one that is broader than the current definition of genocide and means, simply, “mass murder carried out for political reasons.” Or perhaps we should simply agree that the word “genocide” includes within its definition the notions of deliberate starvation as well as gas chambers and concentration camps, that it includes the mass murder of social groups as well as ethnic groups and be done with it.

Finally, the arguments of Bloodlands also complicate the modern notion of memory—memory, that is, as opposed to history. It is true, for example, that the modern German state “remembers” the Holocaust—in official documents, in public debates, in monuments, in school textbooks—and is often rightly lauded for doing so. But how comprehensive is this memory? How many Germans “remember” the deaths of three million Soviet POWs? How many know or care that the secret treaty signed between Hitler and Stalin not only condemned the inhabitants of western Poland to deportation, hunger, and often death in slave labor camps, but also condemned the inhabitants of eastern Poland to deportation, hunger, and often death in Soviet exile? The Katyn massacre really is, in this sense, partially Germany’s responsibility: without Germany’s collusion with the Soviet Union, it would not have happened. Yet modern Germany’s very real sense of guilt about the Holocaust does not often extend to Soviet soldiers or even to Poles.

If we remember the twentieth century for what it actually was, and not for what we imagine it to have been, the misuse of history for national political purposes also becomes more difficult. The modern Russian state often talks about the “twenty million Soviet dead” during World War II as a way of emphasizing its victimhood and martyrdom. But even if we accept that suspiciously large round number, it is still important to acknowledge that the majority of those were not Russians, did not live in modern Russia, and did not necessarily die because of German aggression. It is also important to acknowledge that Soviet citizens were just as likely to die during the war years because of decisions made by Stalin, or because of the interaction between Stalin and Hitler, as they were from the commands of Hitler alone.

For different reasons, the American popular memory of World War II is also due for some revision. In the past, we have sometimes described this as the “good war,” at least when contrasted to the morally ambiguous wars that followed. At some level this is understandable: we did fight for human rights in Germany and Japan, we did leave democratic German and Japanese regimes in our wake, and we should be proud of having done so. But it is also true that while we were fighting for democracy and human rights in the lands of Western Europe, we ignored and then forgot what happened further east.

As a result, we liberated one half of Europe at the cost of enslaving the other half for fifty years. We really did win the war against one genocidal dictator with the help of another. There was a happy end for us, but not for everybody. This does not make us bad—there were limitations, reasons, legitimate explanations for what happened. But it does make us less exceptional. And it does make World War II less exceptional, more morally ambiguous, and thus more similar to the wars that followed.

If nothing else, a reassessment of what we know about Europe in the years between 1933 and 1953 could finally cure us of that “lack of imagination” that so appalled Czesław Miłosz almost sixty years ago. When considered in isolation, Auschwitz can be easily compartmentalized, characterized as belonging to a specific place and time, or explained away as the result of Germany’s unique history or particular culture. But if Auschwitz was not the only mass atrocity, if mass murder was simultaneously taking place across a multinational landscape and with the support of many different kinds of people, then it is not so easy to compartmentalize or explain away. The more we learn about the twentieth century, the harder it will be to draw easy lessons or make simple judgments about the people who lived through it—and the easier it will be to empathize with and understand them.

  1. Czesław Miłosz, The Captive Mind (1953; Penguin, 2001), pp. 26–29. 
  2. Typical is the story of a house I own in northwest Poland: intending to “Germanize” the region, the Nazis evicted the Polish owners in 1939 and installed a German family from Lithuania in their place. These Germans were evicted again in 1944, and the house became state property. 
  3. These figures come from Richard Overy, Russia’s War (Penguin, 1997), p. 297, and from Voennoplennye v SSSR, 1939–1956: dokumenty i materialy , edited by M.M. Zagorul’ko (Moscow: Logos, 2000), pp. 331–333.


Timeline of Events – Russians Invasion & Occupation of Georgia


A pickup truck carrying six Georgian police officers is blown up by separatists.
• At 08:00, a pickup truck carrying six Georgian police officers is hit by two remote-control explosive devices on the Eredvi-Kheiti bypass road linking Georgia proper with the Didi Liakhvi Gorge, a Georgian enclave north of the breakaway region’s capital Tskhinvali. Five of the six Georgian policemen are severely wounded.
• The Government of Georgia decides not to retaliate in order not to escalate the situation.


Six civilians and one Georgian policeman are injured by gunfire coming from South Ossetian territory controlled by Russian peacekeepers.
• Six civilians and one Georgian policeman are injured by gunfire coming from South Ossetian territory controlled by Russian peacekeepers, following the shelling of Georgian villages in the South Ossetian conflict zone overnight.
• The Georgian-controlled villages of Zemo Nikozi, Kvemo Nikozi, Nuli, Avnevi, Eredvi, and Ergneti come under intense fire from the South Ossetian separatists with large-caliber mortars.
• Georgian law enforcers initially shoot back in self-defense, but are soon ordered to cease fire in order not to escalate the situation.


The separatist government of South Ossetia begins evacuating civilians.A
• At 12:00, the South Ossetian separatist government announces the evacuation of more than 500 people, including about 400 children. However, Ermak Dzansolov, deputy prime minister of Russia’s North Ossetian Republic, tells Russia’s Interfax news agency that this is not in fact an evacuation. He explains that the children had long planned to attend a summer-camp program in North Ossetia.
• Russian media outlets, meanwhile, launch a massive propaganda campaign to whip up public sentiment against Georgia.
• At 13:00, the South Ossetian separatist government calls for the mobilization of volunteers across the North Caucasus.

4 & 5 AUGUST

Throughout both days, separatist forces in territories controlled by Russian peacekeepers fire on villages inhabited by ethnic Georgians loyal to the pro-Georgian South Ossetia government. No casualties are reported.


16:00. Separatists reject plea for negotiations and refuse to meet with Georgia’s envoy for conflict resolution, Temur Yakobashvili, who has traveled to Tskinvali to meet with them.
• Temur Yakobashvili, Georgia’s chief negotiator and its state minister for reintegration, says in late-night televised remarks that the Georgian government is seeking a direct dialogue with the separatist authorities in order to reverse the deteriorating security situation. Mr. Yakobashvili says that Russia’s Ambassador-at-large Yuri Popov would attend the talks as a facilitator. The South Ossetian chief negotiator, Boris Chochiev, refuses to take part in any negotiations.

20:00. South Ossetian para-militaries open mortar fire on villages inhabited by ethnic Georgians.
• Separatists open mortar fire on Georgian populated villages of Eredvi, Prisi, Avnevi, Dvani, and Nuli. Georgian government forces fire back in order to defend their positions and the civilian population.
• As a result of intensive cross-fire during the night, two servicemen of the Georgian battalion of the Joint Peacekeeping Forces are injured. The separatist regime also claims several of their forces are hurt.
• Despite these provocative, targeted attacks on peaceful civilians and on Georgian police and peacekeeping forces, the Government of Georgia decides not to respond with heavy fire, in order not to injure civilians.


09:00. South Ossetian separatist government leader threatens to “clean Georgians out” from the region.
• In a morning interview with Russian news agencies, South Ossetian de facto president Eduard Kokoity declares that if the Georgian government does not withdraw its military forces from the region, he would start “to clean them out.” The Georgian military forces to which he refers are peacekeepers who are legally present in the South Ossetia conflict zone.

09:45. A Russian military jet drops bombs near a Georgian military radar based 30 kilometers outside of the conflict zone.
• According to local civilian witnesses, at about 09.45, a fighter plane, presumed to be Russian (it enters Georgia from the South Ossetian conflict zone) drops 3-5 bombs near the village of Shavshvebi, approximately 300-500 meters from the location of a Georgian military radar.

15:00. For the second time in two days, the separatist government of South Ossetia refuses to negotiate with Georgian envoy Temur Yakobashvili, who again travels to Tskhinvali to plead for peace.
• Yakobashvili visits the conflict zone in the morning of August 7 to meet with representatives of the separatist government. The separatists refuse to meet or negotiate with him. Instead, Yakobashvili confers in Tskhinvali with Marat Kulakhmetov, commander of the Joint Peacekeeping Forces.

16:00. Three Georgian servicemen from the Georgian peacekeeping battalion are injured by paralimitary troops.
• Separatist militia resume shelling the Georgian villages of Nuli and Avnevi.
• Three Georgian servicemen are injured after the South Ossetian separatist forces blow up an infantry combat vehicle belonging to the Georgian peacekeeping battalion in Avnevi.
• Georgian police respond by firing towards the separatist militia in the village of Khetagurovo, where two separatist militiamen are killed and two more wounded.
• Later, the Georgian peacekeeping checkpoint in Avnevi is bombed and several Georgian servicemen and civilians are killed.

18:30. The President of Georgia announces a unilateral cease fire.
• Georgia announces a unilateral ceasefire in an attempt by the Government to defuse tensions. Temur Yakobashvili, the Georgian state minister for reintegration and envoy for conflict resolution, says at a press conference at 18:40 that he is continually seeking to contact the separatist authorities, but without success.

20:00. President Saakashvili calls on Russia to recall those of its officials who are members of the South Ossetia separatist government.
• President Saakashvili, speaking with journalists at the military hospital in Gori (where he is visiting two injured Georgian servicemen), reaffirms that despite the deadly attacks on Georgian villages, the Government of Georgia is showing maximum restraint. The President also calls on Russia to “to recall its officials” from South Ossetia, who are members of the so-called South Ossetian government.

20:30. Despite Georgia’s unilateral cease-fire, the village of Avnevi in the South Ossetia conflict zone— inhabited by ethnic Georgians— is totally destroyed by mortar fire.
• Despite Georgia’s unilateral ceasefire, the Georgian village of Avnevi again comes under fire from South Ossetian militiamen. The village is totally destroyed.

21:00. The Security Council of the separatist government threatens to employ Russian Cossack mercenary troops fight Georgian peacekeepers.
• The chairman of the separatist republic’s Security Council, Anatoly Barankevich, says that armed Cossack militia from North Ossetia are heading towards South Ossetia to fight Georgian peacekeepers.

22:30. Separatist paramilitaries attack the Georgian-controlled village of Prisi, leaving several civilians wounded.

23:30. Heavy shelling by separatist forces destroy Georgian police stations on the administrative border of South Ossetia.
• Separatist authorities open fire on all Georgian checkpoints around the South Ossetian capital Tskhinvali at about 23:30, including those located near the villages of Tamarasheni and Kurta. The police stations in the Georgian Kurta is destroyed as a result of heavy shelling.

23:30. 100 Russian armored vehicles and Russian troops invade Georgia, crossing the Roki Tunnel from Russia into Georgia
• The Government of Georgia receives reliable information from three separate sources that approximately 100 armored vehicles and trucks of the Russian armed forces, filled with Russian soldiers, are passing from Russia over the border of Georgia through the Roki Tunnel and are heading towards Tskhinvali. The Russian Federation is thus directly violating the sovereignty of Georgia, as these new forces are regular Russian military and not peacekeepers.


Early morning. South Ossetian paramilitaries and Russian peacekeepers direct heavy fire on Georgian peacekeepers.
• intensive fire emanates from the Ossetian villages of Khetagurovo, Dmenisi, Sarabuki, and Ubiat. Separatist authorities continue shelling Georgian police and peacekeeping units with mortars and artillery. The Government of Georgia orders its forces to return only limited fire in order to defend their positions.

04:28. For the first time, and in response to the entry of Russian armed forces into Georgian sovereign territory, Georgian military (as opposed to Georgian peacekeepers) enter the conflict zone.
• Georgian government forces take control of six villages in the Tskhinvali region: Muguti, Dmenisi, Didmukha, Okona, Akut, and Kohati and enter the village of Khetagurovo.

05:30. Additional Russian troops enter Georgia through the Roki Tunnel in South Ossetia. They pass Java, cross the Gufta Bridge, and advance one the Dzara road towards Tskhinvali.

08:00. Russian troops on the Gufta Bridge, connecting Djava and Tskhinvali, are the targets of a Georgian aerial bombardment.
• Later, two more groups of Russian troops enter South Ossetia through the Roki Tunnel, which connects Russia and Georgia, but cannot cross the Gufta Bridge, which has been destroyed; they advance instead by the Geri-Dmenisi road.

09:00. Georgian forces control the villages of Gromi, Artsevi, Tsinagara, Znauri, Sarabuki, Khetagurovo, Atotsi, Kvemo Okuna, Dmenisi, Muguti, and Didmukha.

09.45. A Russian military fighter plane bombs a Georgian military radar that lies 30 kilometers outside of the conflict zone.

10.30. Seven civilians are injured by bombs dropped by Russian Su-24 fighter jets on the village of Variani in the Kareli district, 75 kilometers west of Tbilisi and 20 kilometers outside of the conflict zone.

10.50. Six Russian Su-24 fighter jets enter Georgia from the Russian Federation.

10:57. Russian aircraft drop three bombs on the town of Gori, well outside of the conflict zone.
• One bomb falls near the Gori stadium, a second near the Gorijvari slope, and a third near an artillery brigade.

11:45. The emergency service of the Civil Aviation Authority reports receiving a signal from what is presumed to be a Russian fighter plane that has crashed near the Iuri range, 17 kilometers south of Gori.

11.45 Four Su-24 Russian fighter jets enter Georgia.
• Four Su-24 Russian fighter jet enter Georgia from the direction of Stepantsminda (Kazbeg), northeast of the Roki Tunnel and outside of the conflict zone. Two of them pass Tbilisi and circle around Marneuli, south of Tbilisi. The other two circle above Gudauri, north of Tbilisi.

12.05. A Russian Su-24 fighter jet enters Georgian air pace from Russia and remains over Tskhinvali until 12.15.

13:00. Part of Tskhinvali comes under the control of the Georgian army and fighting continues in the center of the city.

14.15. The Government of Georgia announces a three-hour ceasefire.
• The Georgian government announces a ceasefire from 15.00 till 18.00 to allow civilians to leave Tskhinvali. The Government of Georgia offers the separatists full amnesty and humanitarian aid if they surrender.

14.30. Georgian government forces control Tskhinvali; resistance comes from small militia groups.

15:05. A Russian airplane bombs Vaziani airfield on the outskirts of Tbilisi.
• A Russian bomber enters Georgia from the direction of Tedzami, just south of Gori, and drops two bombs on the Vaziani military airport.

16:00. Georgian servicemen surround the village of Znauri near Tskhinvali.
• About 40 police officers and reservists are trapped in Znauri school.

16.30. Russia bombs Georgian airfields south of Tbilisi.
• Russian planes bomb the Marneuli and Bolnisi military airbases, 20 kilometers and 35 kilometers south of Tbilisi respectively. Two Georgian aircraft are destroyed on ground, as are several buildings. There are numerous casualties.

17:00. The Georgian airbase at Marneuli, 20 kilometers from Tbilisi and outside the conflict zones, is bombed again, causing casualties.

17:35. Marneuli airbase bombed for a third time.
• The Marneuli airbase is bombed for a third time, resulting in 1 death and 4 injured. As a result of the three bombings, three AN-2 type planes and several military vehicles are destroyed.

18:32. Georgian villages come under Russian aerial and artillery fire.
• Frone Gorge, northeast of Tskinvali, comes under intensive artillery fire from Russian forces. The villages of Avnevi and Phrisi, in the Tskinvali region, are bombarded by Russian military aircraft.

18:44. Russian ground forces of the 58th Army attack Tskhinvali.
• A column of Russian tanks, armored vehicles, and trucks reach Tskinvali by the Dzara bypass road, 2 kilometers west of Tskhinvali. Russian forces open intensive fire on Georgian forces located in Tskhinvali and on neighboring heights. A second column, also having come from Russia via the Roki Tunnel, is stopped near the Georgian government-controlled area of Dmenisi, 7 kilometers north of Tskinvali. Russian forces open heavy fire on Georgian forces.

18:45. Five Russian airplanes bomb Georgian artillery brigade in Gori.

19:18. Georgian forces down Russian jet near Tskhinvali, one of 5 planes shot down during the day.

19:20. Russian jets pass over the town of Ambrolauri, outside of the conflict zone, 170 kilometers northwest of Tbilisi.

20:30. Georgian troops withdraw from Tskhinvali.
• After severe clashes, Georgian forces start to withdraw from the center of the town, holding their positions at its southern outskirts. Russian tanks enter the eastern part of Tskhinvali.

22:40. According to the data of the Ministry of Defense of Georgia Russian planes violated Georgian airspace a total of 22 times during the day.

9 August

00:12. Russians bomb vital port of Poti.
• Black Sea Poti port, 260 kilometers west from Tbilisi, outside the conflict zone, purely civilian infrastructure, is bombed heavily.

00:17. Russian air force attacks railway station and military base in town of Senaki.
• Railway station in Senaki is bombed and eight reported killed. Lightening bombs dropped on Senaki military base, 213 kilometers west of Tbilisi, outside the conflict zone. 1 serviceman and 5 reservists were reported killed.

00:20 Russia bombs an airfield in the outskirts of Tbilisi.
• Vaziani military airfield, 2-3 kilometers from Tbilisi International Airport outside the conflict zone, is bombed again.

01:00 Russian jets continue bombing of Poti port
• Poti port bombed for the second time.

01:20 Russian jets drop bombs close to BTC pipeline.
• Gatchiani, Gardabani district, 20 kilometers south-east of Tbilisi, close to the BTC pipeline, bombed. Pipeline not damaged.

10:00 Russian jets bomb Georgian airfields as Russian ground forces launch massive invasion of the country.
• Russian air force bombed Kopitnari airdrome, few kilometers from Kutaisi. 58th Russian Army, positioned in the North Caucasus, enters South Ossetian region. They engaged in battles with the Georgian army in Tskhinvali, 92 kilometers northwest from Tbilisi.

10:20 Russian jet shot down over Gori.
• One more Russian military airplane is shot down in Gori, 60 kilometers northwest from Tbilisi, outside the conflict zone. Pilot captured.

10:22 Russian air force continues to bomb Gori

12:40 Russia bombs airfield near Kutaisi in Western Georgia.
• Kopitnari airport runway bombed again.

14:00 Russian aviation attacks Georgian airfield in Upper Abkhazia.
• Russian air force attacks Upper Abkhazia (Kodori gorge) in several places, including the airdrome.

14:30 Parliament approves President’s Ordinance on Declaration of State of War and general mobilization.

15:45 Abkhaz separatist leader Sergey Bagapsh announces launching of Upper Abkhazia shelling.

16:05 Four Russian jets overfly Upper Abkazia.

16:15 Russia sends navy to the Georgian coast.
• Two Russian battleships are heading towards Poti port.

16:35 Town of Oni, north of Georgia, outside conflict zone, bombed by Russian aviation.

16:40 Russian Navy prevents Moldovan Cargo Ship “Lotus – 1” carrying wheat from entering Poti Port.

19:45 Tskhinvali is under control of Georgian regular troops.

22:30 Russian air force bombs Chkhalta, administrative centre of Upper Abkhazia.
• Russian air force bombs Chkhalta, administrative centre of Upper Abkhazia. No casualties reported.

10 August

Early morning 6,000 Russian troops enter Georgia through Roki tunnel: 90 tanks, 150 Armored Personnel Carriers, 250 artillery gunships. 4,000 Russian troops land at port of Ochamchire in Abkhazia, from Black Sea port of Sevastopol.

05:45 Tbilisi airplane factory bombed.
• Russian jet enters Georgian airspace from Dagestan and drops three bombs near Tbilisi airplane factory.

07:00 Georgian Government Forces withdraw from Tskhinvali.

07:40 Russian jets bomb village of Urta in Zugdidi district.

08:45 Ten Russian jets attack Upper Abkhazia. One jet downed by Georgian troops.

14.00 Turkish TV crew attacked near Gori. Journalist wounded.

15:00 Russian airplanes bomb Knolevi village in the northern Kareli district on the main highway of the country.

15:10 Russian troops and Abkhaz separatists launch joint ground attack on Upper Abkhazia, supported by Russian aviation.

16:05 Gori bombed by Russian aviation.

16:10 Russia bombs a bridge on the central highway connecting Eastern and western parts of the country.
• Russian aviation bombed the only remaining bridge on the highway linking eastern and western parts of the country. Bridge on fire.

Russia establishes rules for Journalists’ access to the conflict zones
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russian Federation announces journalists required to have special accreditation from Ministry of Defense of RF and second accreditation from MFA of RF to enter Russian-Georgian conflict zone.

Deputy Foreign Minister of Russia – Mr. Karasin announces terms of ceasefire.

17:30 Georgian MFA hands diplomatic note on cease fire to Russian Embassy.

• Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs hands diplomatic note to the Charge d’affaires of Russian Embassy Mr. Smag, informing about order of the president Georgia on unilateral cease-fire.

18:00 Russian Airplanes bomb Black Sea town of Anaklia in Zugdidi district.
• Town is located 280 kms from Tbilisi, near the Georgian – Abkhazian conflict zone. No casualties reported.

19:10 Second bombing of the aviation factory in Tbilisi “Tbilaviamsheni” by Russian aviation

Two journalists killed in Tskhinvali.
Journalist of Itar-Tass agency Alexander Klimchuk and Alanya TV editor Giga Chikhladze were taken hostages and murdered. The journalists entered Tskhinvali together with Georgian government forces.

11 August

00:30 Russian aviation bombs radar station near the Tbilisi-Poti highway.
• Civilian radar station in the village of Shavshvebi, west of Tbilisi, destroyed by Russian planes.

03:05 Villages near Batumi bombed by Russian planes.
• Cemetery and fields have been hit. No casualties reported. Villages are close to Georgian – Turkish boarder.

04:37 Civilian radar destroyed.
• Radar station located on Makhata mountain, 5 kilometers from downtown Tbilisi bombed by Russian planes

05:00 Russian aviation bombs Shiraki airfield in Kakheti Region, east of Tbilisi
• Shiraki airfield in Dedoplistskaro District close to Azerbaijanee boarder is one of the biggest airfields of Georgian aviation in the eastern part of the country.

06:10 Gori was bombed. Civilian apartment buildings were destroyed.

07:15 Senaki airport 230 kms from Tbilisi and main airfield of Georgian aviation in Western Georgia bombed by Russian airplanes.

10:00 Georgian village of Eredvi near Tskhinvali under fire of Russian artillery.

12:05 Russian Aviation attacks Georgian positions in Kodori Gorge.

• Russian aviation bombs Georgian servicemen in Upper Abkhazia, Kodori Gorge. Kodori gorge is the only territory controlled by Government of Georgia in Abkhazia.

13:30 President of Georgia agrees to sign ceasefire agreement.
• President Saakashvili agrees to sign ceasefire agreement, prepared by the foreign ministers of France, Finland and Georgia.

14:30 Senaki base bombed by Russian aviation.

17:00 Russian troops occupy Zugdidi
• Russian peacekeepers armed with heavy weaponry enter Zugdidi and occupy administrative buildings.

17:30 Russian Aviation bombs village Kere of Gori District.

18:20 Separatists occupy villages, take hostages
• Ossetian separatists enter village Beloti near Eredvi. They take hostage remaining civilian population and lock them in a local church.

18:10 Russian troops attack and occupy village Shindisi of Gori district.

19:00 A camp for IDPs set up in Tbilisi.

19:30 Russian troops advance deeper into Georgian territory from west and enter Senaki 210 Km away from Tbilisi, outside of the conflict zone.

20:10 Russian army units move towards city Gori.

20:26 Russians prevent Georgian ships from entering Georgian port
• Ministry of Economic Development is being notified that cargo ships “Castor” and “Asha” are prevented from entering Poti Port by Russian military forces.

20:30 Russian Army occupies Gori and cuts main highway connecting Western and Eastern parts of the country.

12 August

02:05 Russia bombs Kaspi, city outside conflict zone
• Russian aviation bombs Kaspi, 30 km from Tbilisi. 3 bombs dropped near the German owned Heidelberg Cement factory, one of the two cement factories in the country.

07:00 Russian airplanes bomb village of Tkviavi near Tskhinvali .

10:15 Russians bomb Gori, civilians killed, including one journalist
• Russian jets bomb the city of Gori, including the territory around administration building, hospital, and university and city market. 5 civilians died including one child and a doctor of the hospital, 15 injured. Cameraman Stan Storimans of Dutch TV killed. Filios Ftangos, journalist from a Greek TV channel and his driver wounded.

12:25 TBC Oil pipeline 5 km from the city of Rustavi bombed by Russian jets. No damage to the pipeline.

12:30 Vaziani base close to Tbilisi bombed by Russian planes.

13:25 Three Russian airplanes drop bombs on the village of Orchosani near Gori.

14:00 An ambulance vehicle targeted by Russian military bombs in village Agara (Khashuri region).

14:50 Village Sakoritno in Kaspi region and village Ruisi in Kareli region bombed by Russian jets.

15.00. Russian soldiers destroy and rob Georgian Coast Guard
• Georgian Coast Guard command centre attacked by Russian troops three times. Equipment taken away or destroyed. The Georgian Coast Guard vessels damaged.

16:30 Russian troops destroy Gori TV broadcasting station, killing an employee
• Russian troops enter Gori TV broadcasting station. One employee killed and three injured, equipment of the TV station destroyed. The only Georgian, Russian-language TV station “Alanya” is out of air. The region can not receive Georgian Public Broadcasting channel as well.

17:30 Abkhazian troops mobilize heavy armored vehicles in demilitarized zone in village of Ganmukhuri and organize customs checkpoint.

18:00 The shareholders of Kulevi Terminal threatened by Russian troops possible bombing of the oil terminal.

18:00 Russian airplane drop 4 bombs in the village Tkotsa, Khashuri district. None of them exploded.

18:00 Russian soldiers attack Georgian navy, blasted Georgian ships harbored in Poti port.

18:30. Cases of ethnic cleansing in Georgian villages
• South Ossetian separatists enter villages Disevi and Karaleti, in Gori district and committ acts of ethnic cleansing, burning houses and attacking population. Russian soldiers witness and do not react.

19:10. Russian troops occupy Upper Abkhazia
• Russian troops move towards Khaishi, Svanetia north of Zugdidi, occupy the territory.

21:35 Cases of ethnic cleansing in Georgian villages of Gori district
• Ossetian separatists brutally massacring Georgian population.
• Georgian population of villages Kordi and Mereti, Gori district brutally assaulted and abused by Ossetian separatists. In Tkviavi, Gori district, Ossetian separatists are assaulting local Georgian residents.

21:50 Robbery of the Senaki military base.
• Senaki military base ravaged by Russian troops. Equipment and arms taken or destroyed by Russians.

22: 52 Three foreign Journalists in Karaleti, Gori district robbed, car taken.

23:12 Villages of Berbuki, Rakha, Sveneti, Kheltubani, Karaleti in Gori district ravaged by Russian Army. Journalist of Tel-Aviv Newspaper was wounded.

13 August

01.05 Civilians taken hostages in Georgian villages
• Georgian residents of villages Nikozi, Dzveri, Tkviavi, Karaleti (north of Gori) taken hostages by Ossetian separatists. Population of village Berbuki, Gori District gathered on the road, asking to be evacuated.

06:50 bombing of Saqasheti in Gori district
• Two bombs dropped by Russian aviation in village Saqasheti, Gori district. One did not explode.

08:00 Abuse of civilians in Karaleti
• The village of Karaleti, Gori district attacked by Ossetian separatists. Numerous cases of physical assault and abuse of the local residents reported.

09:12 Murder of civilians
• Four civilian cars with shot passengers found in the village of Tedotsminda, Gori district.

09:20 Russian armored troops (50 units) head towards Gori from Tskhinvali.

10:20 Russian troops re-occupy Gori.

12:00 Russian soldiers destroy the military base of artillery brigade near Gori.

12:35 Cases of kidnapping in Tkviavi
• 25 civilians kidnapped by Ossetian separatists from the village of Tkviavi. The bus, by which the kidnapped civilians have been transported to Tskhinvali, crashed. 4 hostages managed to escape.

13:00 Russian soldiers enter village Atotsi, Kareli district.
• Village of Atotsi, Kareli district, is being ravaged by invaders

13:05 Russian soldiers enter village Pakhulani, Tsalenjikha district.

14:00 In Poti port Russian troops blew up three Georgia Coast Guard vessels.

14:45. Young woman, traveling by mini bus kidnapped.
• Paata Sabelashvili, photographer, reports from highway nearby Gori that Georgian civilians traveling in a mini-bus are robbed by the Ossetian separatists, one of the passengers, 25-year old women kidnapped by the attackers.

15:00 Cases of looting in Gori
Gigi Mtvarelidze, member of Georgian CEC, was robbed by the Russian-speaking paramilitaries nearby Gori. His car taken.

15:15 Georgian civilians leave their homes.
• Georgian population of the Bobnevi, Marana, Dzevera, Khidistavi, Tchalaubani villages escape to the forest from the Ossetian separatists.

15:20 Looting continues in Gori district. The residents are being robbed.

16:10 Russian troops move from the city of Gori towards Tbilisi.

17:00 Russian troops turn to the east – located town Uplistsikhe.

17:15 Atrocities in numerous Georgian villages
• Villages Avnevi, Tseronisi and Knolevi in Kareli district, Khandaki, Doesi and Karaghadi in Kaspi district, Tkviavi in Gori district are ravaged. Witnesses report that a number of residents in the town of Gori are taken hostage.

17: 50 The residents of Gori escape.
• Russian troops and Ossetian separatists are launching brutal attacks on the town of Gori. In large numbers, they are heading towards Tbilisi.

18:00 lootings continues. While passing the troubled areas, the drivers of Turkish Travel Company were robbed by Russian soldiers.

20:12 Georgian population flees Kareli. The population of Breti and Aradeti villages in Kareli district leaves their homes. The deserted and abandoned villages are looted and robbed.

14 August

11:00 Russian troops destroy Georgian military installations in Senaki.

12:00 Additional Russian troops in Zugdidi.

12:00 Russian troops reenter Poti port.
• Russian military occupy the building of Coast Guard and destroy their vessels.

12:05 Canadian journalists robbed in the presence of Russian soldiers.
• Near Gori, 3 journalists of Canadian TV channel CBC, including head of the Moscow office, robbed of their car, equipment and passports. The accident happened in the presence of Russian soldiers, who did not react.

14:00 Russian troops reenter Gori taking the city over again.

14:40 Russian troops move around Gori. Russian troops enter village Mejvriskhevi, Gori district and villages Ruisi and Tsveri, Kareli district.

15:30 Looting in Gori district. Russian troops are looting village Debisi of Gori district.

15:40 Georgian policemen robbed in Kareli district.
• Russian soldiers robbed Georgian policemen of their car nearby village Tokhlaura, Kareli district.

16:00 Israeli journalists robbed in Gori.
• Four Israeli journalists, including Haaretz correspondent Anshel Pfeffer and photographer Nir Kafri, were robbed at gunpointed by Russian soldiers in the city Gori.

16:30 Looting reported in Russian controlled Georgian villages.
• The villages Brotsleti, Mejvriskhevi, Gorijvari of Gori district, and Breti of Kareli district ravaged by South Ossetian separatists.

17:00 A Journalist fired near Gori. A Georgian journalist of GPB TV Company Tamar Urushadze was wounded by direct shot in a hand presumably by sniper during the live broadcast near Gori.

17:30 50 Estonian volunteers arrived in Tbilisi to take part in humanitarian aid.

18:10. Russian General Viacheslav Borisov stated he refuses to assume any responsibility for the lives of the journalists in Gori.

18:30 Looting continues in Russian controlled Georgian villages. Atrocities and acts of looting were reported from villages Agara and Dzevera, Kareli district.

19:10 Russian army strengthens their checkpoints in Zugdidi.
• Russian army deployed additional troops to Zugdidi and began strengthening the checkpoints and positions in and around the town

19:35 German television ZDF journalist witnesses the robbery of Danish journalists.
• South Ossetian separatists robbed Danish journalists of their car and cameras, according to a German journalist.

22:10 Russian troops moving east deep of Georgia.
• About 100 armored vehicles and trucks of Russian army began movement from Zugdidi pass Senaki and continue movement east deep in the country.

23:50 Looting in Russian occupied villages.
• Lootings and abuses of local civilians reported from Russian occupied villages of Ruisi Gori district and Mokhisi Khashuri district.

15 August

Russian Navy continues controlling Georgian Territorial Waters.

07.00. Human Rights Watch reports the use of cluster bombs.
• HRW researchers have uncovered the evidence that Russian aircraft dropped cluster bombs (banned by 107 nations) in populated areas in Georgia during the air attacks from 6th of August, killing at least 11 civilians and injuring dozens.

08:00 Russian troops moving towards second largest city of Georgia, Kutaisi.
• 14 armored vehicles and 4 tracks of Russian military forces left Senaki and moved towards Kutaisi. Currently they are at Abashis Tskali river, 40 kms west from Kutaisi and 10 kms west from Samtredia – the main railway and highway crossroad in western Georgia.

09:20 Russian troops moving towards Gori.
• 71st regiment of 42nd division of 58th Army of Russia moved from Tskhinvali to the village of Ergneti heading towards Gori.

09:30 Russian troops continue moving western.
• 21 Military Tracks full of Russian military began movement from Senaki towards Poti port.

10:30 A journalist robbed in Gori district.
• South Ossetian separatists shot at a vehicle of a freelance journalist Margarita Akhvlediani near village Sagolasheni. The car, camera and other belongings were taken away.

13:00 Russian soldiers detain three journalists in Poti.
• Lasha Berulava, reporter of the radio “Imedi” and Murad Fartcvania, cameraman of the TV company “Odishi” were detained by Russian soldiers in Poti.

15:30 Forests in fire.
• Russian helicopters are overflying Bordjomi-Tsemi forests dropping fire setting engines. There are already from 12 to 15 fire locations. Russian military confirmed flying helicopters over this territory without further comments.

16:10 Cases of kidnapping by Russian soldiers. Russian soldiers kidnapped 4 member of Namgalauri family from village Ghogheti of Kareli district and moved towards Znauri.

17:00 Russian troops began withdrawal from Poti.
• They took with them 8 “Black Shark” boats, 7 A type boats, 2 Coastal Guard vessels and equipment from the buildings of the Coastal Guard in Poti.

18:30 Russian troops moved towards Tbilisi.
• 9 armored vehicles of Russian Army accompanied by 3 Mi-24 helicopters moved towards Tbilisi. They stopped and opened check point near village Igoeti 20 kms from Tbilisi, Kaspi district.

21:00 Russian troops entered Khashuri.
• Russian troops entered Khashuri about 100kms west from Tbilisi and opened checkpoint. About 10 Tanks are in the city. Eyewitnesses report that they terrorize civilians pointing guns to them or tank guns to their cars and houses.

23:30 Russian troops in Khashuri.
• On the east-west highway the Russian troops continued to move west from Khashuri and Surami. As reported by locals, they intruded the houses of the civilians taking food. At this moment, the Russian troops are controlling the Igoeti – Khashuri east-west highway. In both places they have established checkpoints.

16 August

00:30 Abuse of local population.
• The cases of looting and abuse of local civilians committed by separatists in Russian occupied villages of Abisi, Koda, Ptsa – Kareli district have been reported.

08:47 – Russian Army in Karaleti, Gori district.
• The battalion has stopped in the village Karaleti. The group is composed of lots of armored personnel carriers, tanks, army trucks and engineer unit. The staff meeting is taking place. The general joined later arriving by helicopter.

10:15 Russians return to Poti, Black Sea port.
• The Russians, who left the port of Poti yesterday, have returned with four armored personnel carrier, one crane, 10 army trucks (8 Ural, 2 Kamaz) and one army vehicle.

10:15 Tanks in move.
• Ten tanks from Igoeti headed towards Khashuri and seven to Znauri.

10:30 Bombing of Khandaki, Kaspi district.
• Russian aviation has dropped fire setting engines near the village of Khandaki, Kaspi district. The forest near the village is burning.

10:30 Bombing of Okami, Kaspi district.
• Russian aviation has dropped unidentified devices to the vine factory in village Okami, Kaspi district.

10:45 Russian tanks close to Tbilisi.
• Three Russian tanks are stationed in Kaspi and two in Igoeti, halfway between Gori and Tbilisi.

12:30 Main connection of railway in Eastern Georgia was blown.
• Grakali Railroad Bridge in Kaspi district has been blown up by Russian troops.

13:00 Russian troops moving to Western Georgia.
• Two Russian trucks with soldiers have moved through the Rikoti tunnel to the village Khevi, Kharagauli district.

13:20 Russian troops in moving to Gori.
• Russian troops have started moving from Igoeti, Kaspi district towards Gori.

14:30 Russian troops moving to Western Georgia.
• Eight units of Russian armored troops have started movement from Khashuri district towards the town of Sachkhere.

14:40 Forests in fire.
• The Karspi district forestes are in fire after Russian aviation dropped fire setting engines in the area.

16:00 Russian military terminates Turkish and Ukrainian help to down fire in forests.
• Russians denied to provide permission to the Turkish and Ukrainian planes to enter Georgian airspace in order to take part in putting down the fires in the Borjomi district forests. The fires started as a result of dropping of fire setting engines in the area by Russian aviation.

18:20 Russian troops have entered the town of Akhalgori.

18:30 Forests in fire.
• Russian aviation has dropped fire setting engines in the forests around Surami, Khashuri district.

19:30 Russian soldiers put into fire houses in village Gamdlistskaro, Kaspi district.

20:00 Russian passports are distributed in Akhalgori.
• Russian troops have started proposing Russian passports to the local population free of change in Akhalgori district.

21:15 Additional troops in Akhalgori.

Russian army deployed additional 60 cars have at the entrance of town Akhalgori 40 km north-west of Tbilisi.


Bloody History of Communism

Communism was the bloodiest ideology that caused more than 120 million innocent deaths in the 20th century.

It was a nightmare which promised equality and justice, but which brought only bloodshed, death, torture and fear.

This three-volume documentary displays the terrible savagery of communism and its underlying philosophy.

From Marx to Lenin, Stalin, Mao or Pol Pot, discover how the materialist philosophy transforms humans into theorists of violence and masters of cruelty.

Декрет об отмене частного владения женщинами

Декрет Саратовского Губернского Совета Народных Комиссаров об отмене частного владения женщинами

Законный бракъ, имевшiй место до последняго времени, несомненно являлся продуктомъ того соцiального неравенства, которое должно быть с корнемъ вырвано въ Советской Республике. До сихъ поръ законные браки служили серьезнымъ оружiемъ въ рукахъ буржуазiи в борьбе ея с пролетарiатомъ, благодаря только имъ все лучшiя экземпляры прекраснаго пола были собственностью буржуевъ имперiалистов и такою собственностью не могло не быть нарушено правильное продолженiе человеческаго рода. Поэтому Саратовскiй Губернскiq Советь Народныхъ Комиссаровъ съ одобренiя Исполнительного комитета Губернскаго Совета Рабочихъ, Солдатскихъ и Крестьянскихъ Депутатовъ постановилъ:

§ 1. Съ 1 января 1918 года отменяется право постояннаго владения женщинами, достигшими 17 л. и до 30 л.

Примечание: Возрастъ женщинъ определяется метрическими выписями, паспортомъ, а въ случае отсутствiя этихъ документовъ квартальными комитетами или старостами и по наружному виду и свидетельскими показанiями.

§ 2. Действiе настоящего декрета не распространяется на замужнихъ женщинъ, имеющихъ пятерыхъ или более детей.

§ 3. За бывшими владельцами (мужьями) сохраняется право въ неочередное пользование своей женой. Примечание: Въ случае противодействiя бывшаго мужа въ проведенiи сего декрета въ жизнь, онъ лишается права предоставляемого ему настоящей статьей.

§ 4. Все женщины, которыя подходять подъ настоящiй декреть, изъемаются изъ частного постояннаго владенiя и объявляются достоянiемъ всего трудового народа.

§ 5. Распределенiе заведыванiя отчужденныхь женщинъ предоставляетя Сов. Раб. Солд. и Крест. Депутатовъ Губернскому, Уезднымъ и Сельскимъ по принадлежности.

§ 7. Граждане мущины имеють право пользоваться женщиной не чаще четырехъ разъ за неделю и не более 3-хь часовъ при соблюденiи условiй указанныхъ ниже.

§ 8. Каждый членъ трудового народа обязан отчислять оть своего заработка 2% въ фондь народнаго поколения.

§ 9. Каждый мущина, желающй воспользоваться экземпляромъ народнаго достоянiя, должень представить оть рабоче-заводского комитета или профессiонального союза удостоверенiе о принадлежности своей къ трудовому классу.

§ 10. He принадлежащiе къ трудовому классу мущины прiобретаютъ право воспользоваться отчужденными женщинами при условiи ежемесячнаго взноса указанного въ § 8 в фондь 1000 руб.

§ 11. Все женщины, объявленныя настоящимъ декретомъ народнымъ достояниемъ, получають изъ фонда народнаго поколенiя вспомоществованiе въ размере 280 руб. въ месяцъ.

§ 12. Женщины забеременевшiе освобождаются оть своихь обязанностей прямыхъ и государственныхъ въ теченiе 4-хъ месяцев (3 месяца до и одинъ после родовь).

§ 13. Рождаемые младенцы по истеченiи месяца отдаются въ приють «Народные Ясли», где воспитываются и получають образованiе до 17-летняго возраста.

§ 14. При рождении двойни родительницы дается награда въ 200 руб.

§ 15. Виновные въ распространенiи венерическихъ болезней будутъ привлекаться къ законной ответственности по суду революцiоннаго времени.

Stalin’s Genocides

Stalin’s Genocides – Human Rights and Crimes against Humanity by Norman M. Naimark

Between the early 1930s and his death in 1953, Joseph Stalin had more than a million of his own citizens executed. Millions more fell victim to forced labor, deportation, famine, bloody massacres, and detention and interrogation by Stalin’s henchmen. Stalin’s Genocides is the chilling story of these crimes. The book puts forward the important argument that brutal mass killings under Stalin in the 1930s were indeed acts of genocide and that the Soviet dictator himself was behind them.

Norman Naimark, one of our most respected authorities on the Soviet era, challenges the widely held notion that Stalin’s crimes do not constitute genocide, which the United Nations defines as the premeditated killing of a group of people because of their race, religion, or inherent national qualities. In this gripping book, Naimark explains how Stalin became a pitiless mass killer. He looks at the most consequential and harrowing episodes of Stalin’s systematic destruction of his own populace–the liquidation and repression of the so-called kulaks, the Ukrainian famine, the purge of nationalities, and the Great Terror–and examines them in light of other genocides in history. In addition, Naimark compares Stalin’s crimes with those of the most notorious genocidal killer of them all, Adolf Hitler.

საქართველო 1920-იანი წლების უცხოურ პრესაში

გასული საუკუნის 20-იანი წლების დასაწყისის დასავლურ პრესაში საქართველოს შესახებ გამოქვეყნებულ ცნობებს რომ ეცნობი, ზოგჯერ გგონია, რომ დრო გაჩერდა.
„მასობრივი დემონსტრაციები რუსეთის ოკუპაციის წინააღმდეგ გაიმართა თბილისში, ბათუმში, ქუთაისსა და სხვა ქალაქებში 11 თებერვალს, რუსი ბოლშევიკების მიერ საქართველოზე თავდასხმის წლისთავზე. ქუჩები აივსო ხალხის მჭიდრო კოლონებით. დემონსტრანტებს შავი დროშები და პლაკატები უჭირავთ. პლაკატებზე წერია: „ვითხოვთ საქართველოს გათავისუფლებას რუსული ჯარებისაგან!” „ძირს საოკუპაციო ჯარები!”.
ეს ამონარიდია 1922 წლის 26 მარტის ნიუ იორკ ტაიმსის სტატიიდან. პლაკატებზე გამოსახული ეს მოთხოვნები დღესაც ისევე აქტუალურია, როგორც 1921, 1922, 1924 ან, თუნდაც, 1989 წელს იყო. შეცვალეთ 11 თებერვალი 7 აგვისტოთი, რუსი ბოლშევიკები – მედვედევ-პუტინის რუსეთით და ტექსტი დღესაც შეიძლება უცვლელად დაიბეჭდოს.
„ბოლშევიზმის ძირშივე მოხრჩობა ენით აუწერელი სიკეთე იქნებოდა კაცობრიობისათვის” – ეს სინანული უინსტონ ჩერჩილმა დიდი დაგვიანებით – 1949 წელს გამოთქვა. ამ დროისთვის ბოლშევიკებს უკვე იმდენი ბოროტება ჩაედინათ (არც მერე შეუწყვეტიათ), რომ მათ შედეგებს მსოფლიო – და განსაკუთრებით, საქართველო – დღემდე იმკის.
ჩერჩილის ამ ფრაზამდე თითქმის ოთხი ათეული წლით ადრე აფრთხილებდა საქართველო ევროპას წითელი საფრთხის შესახებ და დახმარებას სთხოვდა… დღესაც ამის კეთება უწევს – მაშინ საბჭოთა რუსეთისგან, ახლა კი მისი იდეოლოგიური და სულიერი სამართალმემკვიდრის – პუტინის რუსეთისგან დასაცავად.
„თუ ევროპა ხმას არ ამოიღებს იმ საშინელ უსამართლობაზე, რასაც საბჭოთა რუსეთის ხელისუფლება საქართველოს წინააღმდეგ სჩადის, ამას ნებისმიერი დიდი სახელმწიფო მიიღებს თანხმობად, თავს დაესხას მეზობელ ქვეყნებს და დაიპყროს მათი ტერიტორიები”, – აფრთხილებდა ნოე ჟორდანია დიდ სახელმწიფოებს 1922 წლის 21 მარტს, ბრიტანული ტაიმსის მეშვეობით. ეს წერილი ემიგრაციაში მყოფმა ნოე ჟორდანიამ 1922 წლის აპრილ-მაისში, გენუის საერთაშორისო კონფერენციაზე ბოლშევიკური რუსეთის მიწვევასთან დაკავშირებით გამოაქვეყნა. ჟორდანია მიუთითებს კანის კონფერენციის მე-6 მუხლზე (აგრესიის დაუშვებლობა) და ევროპას მიმართავს: “ქართველი ხალხი იმედოვნებს, რომ, კანის კონფერენციის მე-6 მუხლის შესაბამისად, დიდი სახელმწიფოები – და განსაკუთრებით, დიდი ბრიტანეთი – მოსთხოვენ ბოლშევიკებს, გაიყვანონ ჯარები საქართველოდან”.
გენუის კონფერენციაზე, სადაც ფინანსურ საკითხებს განიხილავდნენ, რუსეთისთვის ეს მოთხოვნა არავის წაუყენებია.
ბოლშევიზმმა ევროპას პირველი მსოფლიო ომის დროს მოუსწრო. ომის დასრულების შემდეგ დასუსტებული ევროპის მთავარი საზრუნავი მის ქვეყნებში ბოლშევიზმის ექსპანსიის თავიდან აცილება იყო. ბრიტანეთმა ეს პირობა რუსეთის საბჭოთა ხელისუფლებასთან 1921 წელს გაფორმებულ სავაჭრო ხელშეკრულებაშიც ჩადო. რუსეთის მოსაზღვრე ქვეყნების წითელი ტერორისაგან დასაცავად კი ევროპამ ვერაფერი ან არაფერი გააკეთა.
„ქართველებს ჰგონიათ, თუ ერთ შეტევას გაუძლეს, მეორესაც გაუმკლავდებიან, მაგრამ ევროპის მხრიდან ქართველების მიტოვება მხოლოდ მათი რესურსების ამარა, არ იქნებოდა სწორი”, – ურჩევდა ევროპას ტაიმსი საქართველოში წითელი არმიის შემოჭრამდე ორიოდე კვირით ადრე – 1921 წლის 25 იანვარს. გაზეთის ცნობით, მოსკოვმა ბოლშევიკების ემისარი, შიმანი, თბილისიდან გაიწვია, ვინაიდან მან ვერ მოახერხა ქართველი პროლეტარების წაქეზება, დაეწყოთ აჯანყება. ეს აჯანყება ქვეყნის საზღვართან კონცენტრირებული წითელი არმიისთვის საქართველოში შემოჭრის საბაბი უნდა გამხდარიყო. „ტროცკი გააცოფა საქართველოს ბოლშევიზაციის მისეული გეგმის ჩავარდნამ”, – წერს გაზეთი. კორესპონდენტი გამოთქვამს ვარაუდს, რომ ასეთი შესაძლებლობა ბოლშევიკებს ერთ ხანს აღარ მიეცემათ ზამთრის პირობებისა და დემორალიზებული დამშეული არმიის გამო, თუმცა იქვე დასძენს: „ვინც ბოლშევიკურ მენტალიტეტს იცნობს, ამბობს, რომ გაცოფებულმა ტროცკიმ შეიძლება არმიას ნებისმიერ ფასად შეტევაზე გადასვლა უბრძანოს”.
სტატიაში გამოთქმული წინასწარმეტყველება ახდა. 23 თებერვლის ტაიმსი ადასტურებს ცნობებს საქართველოში მე-11 არმიის შეჭრის შესახებ. „ქართულმა ჯარებმა, როგორც ჩანს, წითლებს სერიოზული წინააღმდეგობა ვერ გაუწიეს. ათასობით ლტოლვილი ქუთაისში გაიქცა, მთავრობა კი ბათუმში გადავიდა. ბათუმში გადავიდა მოკავშირეთა და ამერიკის მისიებიც”.
„ეს არის დანაშაული, დაუნდობელი სამხედრო აგრესიის ნიმუში”, – განაცხადა საქართველოს ოკუპაციაზე ბრიტანეთის ლეიბორისტული პარტიის ლიდერმა, რამსეი მაკდონალდმა, მომავალმა პრემიერმა, 1921 წლის ივნისის ფორვარდში.
ევროპამ მხოლოდ სიტყვიერად დაგმო რუსეთის ქმედება და საქართველო ბედის ანაბარა მიატოვა.
ოკუპაციის შემდეგ საქართველომ მალევე მიმართა ევროპას დახმარების თხოვნით: „ბოლშევიკებმა გაძარცვეს ქვეყანა – საკვები, ტანსაცმელი, ფეხსაცმელი, წამლები, სარკინიგზო ვაგონები, ტრამვაის ვაგონები, დანადგარები, ინსტრუმენტები, ავეჯი – ეს ყველაფერი რუსეთში წაიღეს… ხალხი შიმშილობს, საავადმყოფოები გადავსებულია, პაციენტები მოუვლელი – არც წამლები აქვთ, არც საკვები. ადამიანები ყოველდღე ქოლერისგან იღუპებიან”. თბილისის მერი ევროპას საკვებითა და მედიკამენტებით დახმარებისთვის მიმართავს და თან სთხოვს, ამ დახმარების მოწოდება ისე მოახერხოს, რომ „ხელში არ ჩაუვარდეს ბოლშევიკებს, რომლებმაც საქართველო ამ უმძიმეს დღეში ჩააგდეს” (ტაიმსი, 1921 წლის 15 აგვისტო).
ცნობილი ინგლისელი ჟურნალისტი, ჰენრი ნევინსონი, 1923 წლის 15 ივნისს მანჩესტერ გარდიანში წერდა. „ჩეკა იჭერს, აპატიმრებს, გადასახლებაში გზავნის და გასამართლების გარეშე ხვრეტს ადამიანებს. ბევრი ქართველი გადაიყვანეს რუსეთის ციხეებში – მურმანსკში, იაროსლავლში და მდინარე ვოლგის აუზის დამშეულ რაიონებში. თბილისში მომრავლდა ციხეები. დიდი საჯარო შენობები ციხეებად გადაკეთდა, სადაც სტუდენტები წამებით სიგიჟემდე მიჰყავთ. გასულ თებერვალს მხოლოდ ერთ ღამეში 92 პატიმარი დახვრიტეს (მათ ერთ მწკრივად აყენებენ, სახით კედლისკენ და კეფაში ესვრიან). საქართველოს ეროვნული დღის, 26 მაისის წინა დღეს 800 კაცი დაიჭირეს… 80 ადამიანს თბილისიდან რუსეთის ციხეებში გაგზავნას უპირებენ… მონასტრები კლუბებად გადაკეთდა და იქ ბავშვებს შპიონებად ამზადებენ. სოფლებს შორის დაბანაკებული რუსული სამხედრო ნაწილები გლეხებს სარჩო-საბადებელს ართმევენ”.
ნევინსონი ამ წერილს ბრიტანეთსა და რუსეთს შორის სავაჭრო ურთიერთობებში წარმოქმნილი კრიზისის დროს წერს და მიმართავს ბრიტანეთის ხელისუფლებას: „თუ რუსეთის მთავრობას სურს, შეინარჩუნოს ის სიმპათია, რომელიც, შესაძლოა, კიდევ აქვს ამ ქვეყანაში, ვფიქრობ, მას უნდა მიეთითოს ამ დესპოტიზმის სისაძაგლეზე”.
ერთი წლის შემდეგ კი უცხოური მედია იუწყებოდა ქართველების აჯანყების შესახებ – ამ დესპოტიზმისგან გასათავისუფლებლად.
„ბევრი არაფერი გვსმენია ტრანსკავკასიური ფედერაციის შესახებ მას შემდეგ, რაც 1922 წელს საბჭოეთმა ის ისევ რუსეთს დაუქვემდებარა. და აი, ერთი თვის წინ მოვიდა ცნობა, რომ ერთ-ერთი ქვეყანა, საქართველო, მოსკოვის უღლიდან თავის დაღწევას ცდილობს”, – წერს 1924 წლის 28 სექტემბერს ნიუ იორკ ტაიმსი ქაქუცა ჩოლოყაშვილის აჯანყების შესახებ.
ამავე ნომერში გამოქვეყნებულია აჯანყების თვითმხილველის, ამერიკელი სამთო ინჟინრის, ჯონ ჰალოუელის მონათხრობი: „პირველი 10 დღე რევოლუციონერებმა დაიკავეს ბათუმი-თბილისის რკინიგზა და მილსადენი, საქართველოს ყველა ქალაქი და სოფელი, გარდა ბათუმისა და თბილისისა. მთელი კავკასია მზად იყო, საბჭოელების წინააღმდეგ აჯანყებულიყო, როდესაც რუსებმა საქართველოში დამატებითი ჯარების შემოყვანა დაიწყეს… საბჭოთა ტაქტიკა არა მხოლოდ რევოლუციონერების, არამედ საქართველოს მთელი მოსახლეობის ტერორიზება, დემორალიზება და იზოლირება იყო”.
„28 აგვისტოს, თბილისში რევოლუციის დაწყებისთანავე, ჩეკამ დახვრიტა 24 გამოჩენილი ქართველი, რომლებიც მრავალი თვის განმავლობაში მძევლებად ჰყავდათ ციხეში; დაიწყო სხვა ცნობილი ადამიანების დაპატიმრებაც. ბათუმში მაშინვე დახვრიტეს 30 ცნობილი ადამიანი”, – წერია გაზეთში. „აჯანყებულთა დემორალიზებისთვის, ჩეკამ გაავრცელა ყალბი მოწოდებები, რომლებსაც ვითომდა აჯანყების ლიდერები აწერდნენ ხელს. მოწოდებები ამბოხის წარუმატებლობის შესახებ იუწყებოდა და აჯანყებულებისგან ითხოვდა, დაეყარათ იარაღი და საბჭოელებს დანებებოდნენ”.
ამავე გაზეთის ცნობით, აჯანყებასთან დაკავშირებით ერთა ლიგის ასამბლეამ რეზოლუცია მიიღო: „25 სექტემბერს ჟენევიდან ინფორმაცია გავრცელდა, რომ ასამბლეამ ერთხმად მიიღო რეზოლუცია, შუამავლობა გაუწიოს საქართველოს „ყველაზე შესაფერის მომენტში”.
ამ რეზოლუციას და, ასევე, ბრიტანეთის (რომლის პრემიერ-მინისტრიც მაშინ რამსეი მაკდონალდი იყო) მთავრობის პოლიტიკას რუსეთის მიმართ მკაცრად აკრიტიკებს შოტლანდიელი პარლამენტარი უოლტერ ელიოტი 1924 წლის 27 სექტემბრის ტაიმსში. ელიოტი გმობს ბრიტანეთის მთავრობის გადაწყვეტილებას იმ ქვეყანასთან კომერციული ხელშეკრულების გაფორმებისა და მისთვის კრედიტის გამოყოფის შესახებ, რომელმაც დანაშაული ჩაიდინა. „ეს დანაშაული „პატარა კავკასიური სახელმწიფოს – საქართველოს მკვლელობა” იყო; და რა ირონიაა, რომ ამ შეფასების ავტორი დიდი ბრიტანეთის ამჟამინდელი პრემიერ-მინისტრია, რომელიც დღეს ასე გვიქებს ხელშეკრულებას კრედიტის მიცემაზე იმ ველური ხუნტისთვის, რომელიც 1924 წელს ცინიკურად სჩადის ისეთსავე ძალადობას, როგორსაც ბატონი რამსეი მაკდონალდი ასე გულმოდგინედ გმობდა 1921-1923 წლებში”.
„მხოლოდ ორი კვირის წინ ჟენევაში, როდესაც კავკასიაში წინააღმდეგობა განახლდა, ეს სამწუხარო პრობლემა ისევ წამოიჭრა. პრობლემას ისევ სიტყვებით შეეგებნენ. როგორც გვითხრეს, ბატონმა მაკდონალდმა და ბატონმა ჰერიოტმა ასამბლეას მოკრძალებული რეზოლუცია წარუდგინეს, რომელშიც ასამბლეა თხოვნით მიმართავს ერთა ლიგის საბჭოს, „თვალი ადევნოს” საქართველოში მოვლენების განვითარებას და ყველა შესაძლებლობა გამოიყენოს მშვიდობის აღსადგენად”.
1924 წლის 15 სექტემბერს როიტერი იუწყება, რომ საქართველოში აჯანყებასთან დაკავშირებით, სოციალისტმა დეპუტატმა მ. რენოდელმა, თხოვნით მიმართა საფრანგეთის საგარეო საქმეთა მინისტრს, ედუარდ ჰერიოტს, „შესთავაზოს რუსეთს, შეწყვიტოს ეს სისხლისღვრა” და გამოთქვა მოსაზრება, რომ სასურველი იქნებოდა ამ საკითხში ერთა ლიგის ჩარევა.
1924 წლის 12 სექტემბრის გარდიანის სარედაქციო სტატიაში წერია: „უეჭველია, ბოლშევიკები ისევე დაუნდობლად ჩაახშობენ ქართველების სულის ამ გამოხატულებას, როგორც ომის შემდეგ არაერთხელ გაუკეთებიათ და ნაკლებსავარაუდოა, რომ რომელიმე დიდმა სახელმწიფომ ეს შეაჩეროს… ყოველ ჩვენგანს, ვისაც გვსურს ნორმალური ურთიერთობის აღდგენა დღეს არსებულ რუსეთის მთავრობასთან, არ უნდა დაგვავიწყდეს, როგორ დაუნდობლად ექცევა იგი თავის პატარა მეზობელს”.
ლიგის მოკრძალებულმა ჩარევამ წითელი ტერორი და ჩეკისტური რეპრესიები საქართველოში ვერ შეაჩერა.
იმავე წლის ნოემბერში ბრიტანელი ლეიბორისტების დელეგაცია საბჭოთა კავშირის ქვეყნებს, მათ შორის, საქართველოსაც ეწვია. ეს ვიზიტი დელეგაციამ ვარდისფერ ფერებში აღწერა თავის ანგარიშში, რომელიც 1925 წლის 28 თებერვლის ტაიმსში გამოქვეყნდა. ერთადერთი, რასაც საბჭოთა ხელისუფლებას უწუნებდნენ, სიტყვის თავისუფლების შეზღუდვა იყო. ამ ანგარიშის პასუხად, რუსეთის პოლიტპატიმრების დაცვის ბრიტანეთის კომიტეტმა 1925 წლის 20 მაისს გარდიანში სტატია გამოაქვეყნა. კომიტეტის განცხადებით, საქართველოში არსებული სიტუაციის აღწერა „სიმართლის შელამაზების ყველაზე სამარცხვინო მცდელობაა მთელ ამ ანგარიშში… რეალური ფაქტების დამახინჯება კიდევ უფრო აღმაშფოთებელია, რადგან დელეგაციის რუსეთში ვიზიტამდე დიდი ხნით ადრე, ლონდონში დამაჯერებელი მასალები არსებობდა იმ სასაკლაოს შესახებ, რომელიც საქართველოში მოსკოვმა და მისმა ყასბებმა მოაწყვეს… საქმე ის გახლავთ, რომ ქართველთა აჯანყება, რომელიც მოსკოვის მიერ იყო პროვოცირებული, ისეთივე სისასტიკით ჩაახშეს, როგორც უკრაინის გლეხობის რევოლუციური მოძრაობა და კრონშტადტის ამბოხი 1921 წელს. ბოლშევიკურმა დესპოტიზმმა და ტერორმა საქართველოში ნოყიერი ნიადაგი მოამზადეს აჯანყებისთვის. ჩეკას ხელთ ეპყრა სადავეები და კრემლმა გაიხარა იმით, რომ მიეცა შანსი, პატარა „სამაგალითო” სისხლის გამოშვება მოეწყო აჯანყებულ საქართველოში”.
წითელი ტერორი 24 წლის აჯანყების ჩახშობით არ დასრულებულა. ამის პატარა მაგალითად გამოდგებოდა 1925 წლის 11 მარტის ტაიმსის სტატია – „კალინინის მუქარა საქართველოს”: თბილისში გამართულ „წითელი პარლამენტის 5-დღიან სესიაზე” კომპარტიის უმაღლესი საბჭოს წევრმა, მიხაილ კალინინმა, „საქართველოს ინტელიგენციის ნარჩენებთან დაკავშირებით, რამდენიმე ავისმომასწავებელი განცხადება გააკეთა. მისი თქმით, საკმაოდ ბევრი ინტელიგენტია დარჩენილი და საქართველო მათ განეიტრალებას ვერ შეძლებს, ისინი ნაციონალიზმით არიან გაჟღენთილნი. ამიტომ, – განაგრძო მან, – მიზანშეწონილია, მათ საქმიანობის სფეროები საბჭოთა კავშირის სხვა რეგიონებში მოვუძებნოთ. ეს აშკარად ნიშნავს იმას, რომ ცენტრალური მთავრობა აპირებს „არასასურველი ელემენტების” მასობრივ გადასახლებას საქართველოდან”.

Голод – 33

Based on the novel by Vasyl Barka”Yellow Prince.” On people’s tragedy of Ukraine – Holodomor of 1932-1933 in the center of the plot – the tragic fate of a Ukrainian family, and viewers will see this tragedy through the eyes of a child.

Operation Abolition

The Investigation: Operation Abolition

By the slick technical standards of Hollywood, Operation Abolition is one of the least likely film hits since nickelodeons first started to charge a dime. The movie is an abrupt, badly edited 45-minute short. Its eye-jolting camera work is murky, its sound track raucous and shrill. But its impact is pure boffo. Prints of Operation Abolition are booked months in advance by Army camps, student groups, American Legion posts, political meetings, churches and corporations. Pennsylvania Democrat Francis E. Walter, chairman of the House Committee on Un-American Activities, estimates that more than 10 million people have seen the film since its release last July.

Subpoenaed Film. Operation Abolition is a documentary report on student demonstrations against an Un-American Activities subcommittee hearing in San Francisco last May. Much of the footage concentrates on “Black Friday,” May 13, when student-provoked city police turned fire hoses on the unruly, song-chanting crowd, dragged and pushed demonstrators down the steps of city hall, arrested 68 students (mostly from the University of California, some from Stanford University, San Francisco State and the University of San Francisco) on charges of inciting a riot and resisting arrest. The House Committee subpoenaed film of the incidents from two San Francisco TV stations, turned it over to a Washington movie studio for processing. With the help of Committee Researcher Fulton Lewis III,* the studio edited the film, added new sequences of commentary by Walter and other Congressmen, peddled 750 copies of the film for $100 each (none of the $20,000 profit so far has been shared with the TV stations).

Lewis delivered the narrative, written largely by the committee staff. Its main, heavily accented points: the “riots” were a clear example of Communist crowd tactics ; the students were either Communists or “Red dupes.” As if in proof, much of the camera work zooms in on verbose Longshoreman Archie Brown, California’s No. 2 Communist, who was summoned as a witness, finally got tossed out of the hearing room for misbehavior.

Largely because of such blunt accusations, Operation Abolition stirs up some kind of trouble nearly everywhere it goes. Last week Narrator Lewis, who has spoken on behalf of the film at some 75 U.S. colleges, appeared with Operation Abolition at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn, and the University of Connecticut at Storrs. As usual, well-organized campus liberals picketed the showing, jammed the hall to heckle, boo, fire loaded questions at the narrator. Praised by FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, the National Review, and a number of conservative Baptist groups, Operation Abolition has come in for searching criticism by the Jesuit weekly America, the Protestant Christian Century, Episcopal Bishop James A. Pike. After making its own study of the events, the National Council of Churches urged Protestant ministers “not to exhibit the film unless a full and fair presentation” of all the facts is made.

Undisputed Stars. In defense of Operation Abolition, Committee Chairman Walter charges that much of the criticism stems from Red-led groups eager to see the committee abolished, claims that the film “has provided a great contribution in the fight against Communism.” Without defending the students’ snarling defiance of the cops, critics of the film note that even Committee Investigator William Wheeler admitted “distortions” in the editing, e.g., footage shown out of time sequence, claim that the Communist influence is exaggerated. A careful sifting of evidence by a team of San Francisco News-Call Bulletin reporters supports the critics. San Francisco’s Mayor George Christopher gives his qualified approval of the movie but acknowledges that “at least 90% of the students were not organized by the Communists.” Fact is that nobody comes off very well in Operation Abolition. Commentator Lewis reaches for smooth explanations that are not quite there. The windy interludes by committee members get in the way of the documentary itself. And the hell-raising students reflect little glory on higher education. But—as they obviously intended to be—the undisputed stars of the show are the acknowledged Communist witnesses and agitators playing themselves with chilling conviction.

*Son of Conservative Columnist and Radio Commentator Fulton Lewis Jr.

Friday, Mar. 17, 1961,9171,894425,00.html

Republic of Spies – How Russia’s FSB Colonized Abkhazia

Abkhazia, one of the breakaway provinces over which Russia and Georgia fought in 2008, has been colonized by Russia’s state security services. And the locals are hardly thrilled.

On a sunny afternoon earlier this summer in the garden of a freshly renovated resort overlooking the Black Sea, a group of Russian security-service and Interior Ministry officers on holiday were raising their vodka glasses. The toast: to their future summers in the separatist republic of Abkhazia, once a favorite holiday spot for Stalin’s elite and now, despite its nominal independence from Georgia, Russia’s newest colony. After a war in 2008 to help Abkhazia and South Ossetia partition themselves from Georgia, Russia is making itself right at home.

The party’s host, Alexander Tsyshba—the head of the privatization and investments department for the seaside city of Gagra—looked satisfied. After over 15 years of economic blockade by Georgia, investment in Abkhazia was almost nonexistent, the resorts were empty, and the economy was stagnant except for a trickle of business controlled by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB). Now, with 3,000 Russian troops stationed in the republic, Tsyshba’s old FSB friends have begun to buy up prime property across the breakaway republic. “To buy property in Abkhazia, the FSB officers use the special relationship of their long-term contacts with us,” he explains with a smile.

The Russian special services’ “special relationship” with Abkhazia began well before the region’s break from Georgia in 1991, in the days of the Soviet KGB. From Stalin’s era on, every other Abkhaz family had a KGB officer, a secret agent, or an informer among their relatives. Former agents told NEWSWEEK that Moscow gave the tiny South Caucasus republic a special status—of an autonomous republic within the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic—in order for the KGB to have a pleasant headquarters in the palm-lined seaside boulevards of Sukhumi. Locals like to boast that “Abkhazia used to beat the world record on the number of secret agents per capita,” says Lavrik Mikvabia, a colonel in the Abkhaz border guard. And Vladimir Rubanov, a three-star general who ran the old KGB’s analytical department, told NEWSWEEK that “the KGB always had its special power in Abkhazia. When I came for vacation and went out for a beer with my friend, a senior Abkhaz KGB commander, we did not have to pay for our beers or a plate of crabs. We just showed our KGB IDs.”

Traditions are respected in the Caucasus. So nobody was surprised when the FSB, the successor agency to the KGB, inherited the Mayak sanitarium, a former KGB rehabilitation center for agents, after the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991. Or when officers of the Federal Protection Service, the agency guarding the president and other top officials, brought their families to spend summers at the dacha that Khrushchev once used—a strictly guarded, enormous resort covering more than 10 square kilometers of seafront property in Pitsunda. Now a rotating cast of former and current FSB officers has arrived to rent and privatize luxury hotels, sanitariums, and dachas on prestigious bits of land.

In the two years since Russia went to war to “liberate” Abkhazia and South Ossetia from the Republic of Georgia, the Russification in those provinces has accelerated. Almost all the best Abkhaz architectural monuments have ended up in the hands of Russian investors: the 19th-century palace of the Prince of OldenburgOlga’s Tower; another graceful palace in the Mauritanian style in the hills overlooking the city; and Gagra’s oldest landmark, the ancient Persian Attaba Fortress, dating to the fourth and fifth centuries. Luxurious real-estate developments like the Dolfin Hotel, which opened last January, have emerged along the seafront, waking Pitsunda’s tourist industry from years of comatose postwar decay. Tsyshba, the Gagra privatization guru, proudly boasts that the city is “the best FSB resort.”

The Dolfin Hotel’s manager, Alexander Chukbar, agrees, but he adds warily that the new owners “are not the kind of people one can just go up to and chat with.” In Soviet days, the KGB was a state within a state. Now, with former KGB officer Vladimir Putin and his circle of former spooks still very much in control of the country, the FSB’s hand extends into almost every major Russian business. Former KGB officers turned businessmen are warmly welcomed in their old Abkhaz stomping grounds—and have brought billions of dollars of investment. Rosneft, Russia’s state oil company famous for its ties to the Russian security establishment, arrived this year to open an office in Sukhumi and begin a $32 million geological-research program offshore in the Black Sea, considered a prospective oil-rich region.

Other groups in the Russian elite have also followed the spooks’ lead. Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov has lost no time grabbing a massive piece of land outside Gagra for a $70 million resort complex the locals call “Project Moscow.” Luzhkov is also constructing a gigantic office in Sukhumi to coordinate investments from Moscow, to be called the Moscow Center. Russia’s Ministries of Defense, Agriculture, and the Interior have reclaimed state dachas in Sukhumi, Gagra, and Gudauta so that their employees can vacation there. Alexander Tkachev, the governor of Krasnodar region in southern Russia, has spent the last two summers in the dacha built by Stalin’s secret police chief; he rents it from the local government, which can’t afford to renovate it. And Sergei Kiriyenko, the head of Russia’s nuclear-energy agency, owns a winery in Abkhazia, according to the local administration.

But the biggest investor of all is Prime Minister Putin, who visited Abkhazia last summer for the war’s first anniversary, and pledged $500 million in state aid to strengthen Abkhaz defense. He has also promised millions for a huge project to redevelop the town of Pitsunda, famous for its enormous old pine trees—beloved by the tsars, the Soviets, and the new Russian elites alike. The Russian government is planning to build what Astamur Ketsba, head of the regional administration, calls “Putin City”—a lavish luxury resort with a port for yachts, health clubs, and private beaches. It is expected to be ready in time for the 2014 Winter Olympics in nearby Sochi. In the meantime, Abkhaz President Sergei Bagapsh told NEWSWEEK that he has already received 300 million rubles of 9 billion offered, and that he has reached an agreement with Putin that will allow Russian citizens to own private property in Abkhazia. He boasted that the airport Sukhumi will open next month is better than the one in Sochi, and that soon, Russian S-300 surface-to-air missiles will be stationed in his breakaway republic.

Not all the locals are happy about the invasion of Russian money, fearing an assault on their newly won independence. Tomara Lakrba, the main architect of the towns of Gagra and Pitsunda, says she was “astonished” when she saw the proposed designs for Putin City, which—with more than 10 stories (where three or four are normal)—she considered tall and ugly. “I realized that Russian security services gave us our independence in order to be able to decide what to buy and build in our cities,” she says.

Many young Abkhaz also feel concerned about the Russian elite buying up their proud, small state. “I do not think Russians understand that we are different; we do not want to be a KGB state again. We would never give our land back to Georgia, but to be independent, we mean from Russia as well,” says Akhra Smyr, a youth community activist in Sukhumi. He and other irritated young activists shared with NEWSWEEK their frustration about how Russian tanks destroyed the roads in the Gali region and how their international phone code has become +7, the same as Russia’s.

Abkhazia’s tiny military also feels steamrollered by the FSB, which has taken over controlling the border with Georgia. There are only two checkpoints (of more than a dozen) left under Abkhaz control, and some 120 Abkhaz officers have lost their jobs. Sixty were fired outright and 60 were turned into customs agents. “We are all war veterans,” says the commander of Abkhaz border troops, Col. Lavrik Mikvabia. “We spilled blood for our freedom. The FSB border officers should remember that when they treat us as if we were their colony.”

It seems too late, though, for the Abkhaz to reconsider their pact with their powerful northern neighbor. Abkhazia’s border with Georgia is secured by a full division of Russia’s border guards, who answer to the FSB. Bright orange trucks—with the double-headed-eagle logo of the Russian Federal Construction Co.—crawl along the coastal roads, carrying sand and gravel for the seven-story buildings the FSB is building for the border guards and their families in Gali, a regional center on the border with Georgia.

With so much Russian money being poured into Abkhazia, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s calls for the Russian military’s immediate withdrawal ring a little hollow. Never mind the ceasefire terms that ended the war, under which Moscow promised to withdraw. “Russia has just arrived,” President Bagapsh told NEWSWEEK. The West should “stop having any illusions about what they call Russian occupiers leaving any time soon.”



David Marshall Lang

(excerpt from the book ”A Modern History of Georgia”/NY/1962)

Lenin versus Stalin on Georgia–Revival of Great Russian chauvinism–The insurrection of 1924—The Stalin Era–Industrial development–Georgian agriculture collectivized–The war against the kulaks–‘Dizziness with Success’–The rise of Beria–The Five-Year Plans–Georgia under the purges-Political reorganization and the Stalin Constitution–The Georgian émigrés–Georgia during World War II–The final terror–Death of a dictator

Lenin versus Stalin on Georgia

The unexpected mildness of the terms offered by the Georgian Communists to their defeated rivals is to be explained in part by divergent reactions to the Georgian affair within the Politbureau in Moscow. Lenin and his colleagues had only given their sanction to the Red Army’s advance when they were assured by Stalin, as Commissar of Nationalities, that a massive Bolshevik uprising had occurred in Tbilisi. According to Stalin and his man on the spot, Orjonikidze, the Mensheviks had already been virtually overthrown by the Georgian masses themselves, and the appearance of a few Red Army soldiers would simply consolidate a victory already won. Both Lenin and Trotsky were appalled when they later heard that heavy fighting was taking place and that the Mensheviks had rallied the nation to their side; they were most apprehensive of the impression which would be created among foreign socialists when it was learnt that the Russian Communists were now overthrowing other, independent socialist régimes by force of arms.

The risk taken by Stalin in simultaneously hoodwinking his own comrades and defying world opinion in this fashion is partly to be accounted for in terms of his own past career, and his impatience to settle old personal scores. Twenty years earlier, in the days of the old Mesame Dasi when Social-Democracy was first taking root in Georgia, young Jughashvili-Stalin had been the odd man out. Thrust into the background by Zhordania and the other Mensheviks, Stalin had thrown in his lot with Lenin and the Russian Communist party. In October 1917 he had the satisfaction of seeing his compatriots and rivals Karlo Chkheidze and Irakli Tsereteli, both leading figures in the Kerensky régime, turned out of Petrograd and banished to their native Georgia. But it was a standing affront to Stalin, as Soviet Commissar of Nationalities, to be defied and held up to scorn in his own native Georgia of all places, while his sway extended over most of the other territory of the old Tsarist domains. Georgia must at all costs be brought within the Soviet fold. The Soviet-Georgian treaty of May 1920 was simply a tactical manœuvre; by November, Stalin was declaring: ‘ Georgia, which has been transformed into the principal base of the imperialist operations of England and France and which therefore has entered into hostile relations with Soviet Russia, that Georgia is now living out the last days of her life.’ It was Stalin the Georgian who gave independent Georgia the coup de grâce.

In an effort to put a good face on the occupation of Georgia, Lenin wrote to Orjonikidze after the fall of Tbilisi, urging him to come to terms with the fallen Menshevik régime. ‘I must remind you that the internal and international position of Georgia requires of the Georgian Communists not the application of the Russian stereotype, but . . . an original tactic, based upon greater concessions to the petty bourgeois elements.’ When he learnt that Zhordania and his cabinet declined to enter into a coalition and had embarked for Europe, with the full intention of turning the Georgian issue into an international scandal, Lenin was greatly perturbed. However, the Politbureau was obliged to accept Georgia’s annexation as a fait accompli, and Trotsky, though highly critical of Stalin’s handling of the situation, wrote a pamphlet in defence of Russian policy towards Georgia. In accordance with Lenin’s directive, the Georgian Communist leaders tried at first to win over the people by fair words. However, they met with nation-wide passive resistance. To make things worse, famine prevailed in the towns and during the summer of 1921 an outbreak of cholera carried off thousands of victims. The desperate shortage of food and the breakdown of medical services resulted in heavy mortality, the Georgian Catholicos-Patriarch Leonid being among the dead.

Even those Tbilisi workers who were most sympathetic towards Communist doctrines remained patriots at heart. A mass meeting of 3,000 representatives of the Tbilisi workers’ associations took place on 10 April 1921 at the Opera House on Rustaveli Avenue. It passed resolutions calling upon the Revcom to defend Georgia’s rights to self-determination and independence; to hasten the formation of a national Red Army of Georgia; to secure for the working masses of Georgia the right to select their representatives by free elections; to ensure that the new Soviet order was introduced into Georgia in such a way as to respect the customs of the people; and to legalize the existence of all socialist organizations not actually engaging in activities directed against the régime. Though acceptable in the main to the local Georgian Bolsheviks, such resolutions as these were not in accordance with the policies of Stalin and his immediate associates. Far from permitting the formation of a Georgian Red Army, Stalin saw that all military formations were disbanded, and posted Russian garrisons at strategic points. Workers’ organizations and trades unions were subordinated to the Bolshevik party committees, which received their instructions from Moscow. Russian agents of the political police or Cheka were sent to Georgia to mop up the local Mensheviks, whom the Georgian Bolsheviks would rather have been left to win over or render harmless in their own way.

Stalin also began to toy with the idea of bringing Georgia into a Transcaucasian Federation of Soviet Republics, into which Armeniaand Azerbaijan would also be merged. The local Georgian Bolsheviks, on the other hand, preferred to retain the country as an autonomous Soviet Republic loosely associated with Moscow, and possessing its own political and administrative organs. In July 1921 Stalin came to Tbilisi on a personal visit of inspection and addressed a mass meeting in the working-class quarter of Tbilisi, where he had spent so many months of revolutionary activity. As soon as he appeared on the platform, surrounded by Cheka agents and guards, the crowd began to hiss. Old women in the audience, some of whom had fed and sheltered Stalin when he was hiding from the Tsarist secret police, shouted: ‘Accursed one, renegade, traitor!’ The crowd reserved its ovation for the veteran revolutionary leader Isidore Ramishvili and another of their leaders, Alexander Dgebuadze, who asked Stalin straight out: ‘Why have you destroyed Georgia? What have you to offer by way of atonement?’ Surrounded by the angry faces of his old comrades Stalin turned pale and could only stutter a few words of selfjustification, after which he left the hall cowering behind his Russian bodyguard. The next day, he stormed into Tbilisi Party Headquarters and made a furious attack on Philip Makharadze, whom he professed to hold personally responsible for his humiliation. Addressing a meeting of Tbilisi Communists on 6 July 1921, he urged them to renounce every vestige of local independence and merge into a single Transcaucasian Federation, in return for which he promised Georgia unlimited free oil from Baku and a loan of several million gold rubles from Moscow. Changing his tone, Stalin went on to attack what he called ‘local chauvinism’ among the Georgians. The most urgent task of the Georgian Communists was a ruthless struggle against the relics of nationalism. To smash ‘the hydra of nationalism’, the party must purge its ranks of local patriots and get rid of all who would not subordinate Georgia’s interests to those of the entire Soviet Union.

Revival of Great Russian chauvinism

Such language, with its unmistakable overtones of new-born Great Russian imperialism, created a deplorable impression when coming from the lips of a native-born Georgian veteran of the liberation movement. Leading Georgian Bolsheviks like Mdivani, Eliava and Makharadze were dismayed at the abyss which gaped before them and protested vigorously against Stalin’s scheme to abolish the autonomy of the non-Russian republics. Stalin was obdurate. Back in Moscow, he ordered the liquidation of all remains of the Georgian Menshevik party and went ahead with his plan for a new, centralistic constitution for the Soviet state. In the Politbureau, the protests of the Ukrainians and Georgians were upheld by Trotsky, who saw in Stalin’s proposals an abuse of power which could not fail to offend the non-Russian peoples and expose as a mere fraud the Communist doctrine of self-determination for all national groups. The grip of the Russian Cheka over Georgia was in the meantime greatly strengthened. The Russian secret police brought with them their well-tried techniques of torture and intimidation, in which some of their local recruits proved very apt pupils. The Metekhi fortress jail, which had served the Tsars as a political prison, was crammed with captives, while the most obstinate cases were ‘worked over’ in the dreaded Cheka headquarters down in the city, where hundreds of miserable prisoners languished and died in conditions of indescribable squalor. The Georgian Church was the object of special attention on the part of Stalin and his henchmen, who egged on mobs of hooligans to attack priests and loot the sanctuaries, in the course of which many historic relics and works of art were stolen or destroyed.

The moral dilemma confronting the Georgian Communists emerges clearly from a report sent by P. Makharadze, then Chairman of the Georgian Communist Party, to the Central Committee of the Party in Moscow on 6 December 1921.

‘The arrival of the Red Army and the establishment of Soviet power in Georgia,’ wrote Makharadze, ‘had the outward appearance of a foreign occupation because in the country itself there was nobody who was ready to take part in a rebellion or a revolution. And at the time of the proclamation of the Soviet régime there was, in the whole of Georgia, not even a single member of the party capable of organizing action or providing leadership and this task had been accomplished mainly by doubtful or sometimes even criminal elements. . . . We must realize that the Georgian masses had become accustomed to the idea of an independent Georgia. . . . We had to demonstrate that we based our position on the independence of Georgia, but this was simply a form of words; in actual fact we were rejecting this and did not have it as our objective at all. This was an intolerable situation, as it is impossible to deceive the masses in a political question of this nature, and especially the Georgian people, who had gone through ordeals of fire and water in recent years. . . . We were announcing that we were working towards the creation of an independent Georgia . . . while taking systematic steps to nullify our promise.’

When Mdivani and Makharadze refused to agree to Georgia’s entry into Stalin’s new Transcaucasian Federation, Stalin and Orjonikidze discredited them with trumped-up charges of selfishness and treason to the Bolshevik cause. Unable to credit that Stalin would knowingly offend the national dignity of his fellow-countrymen, Lenin upheld him, with the result that Georgia was obliged to enter the Transcaucasian Federation and Mdivani and Makharadze received a stern rebuke.

The excesses committed by the Cheka and the Russian occupation troops in Georgia led to the formation of a wellorganized resistance movement. Guerilla warfare broke out in several regions. In 1922, an underground Independence Committee was formed, consisting of representatives of most Georgian non-Communist parties and organizations. The committee set up a military centre, which was to prepare for a national insurrection. Several members of the former Menshevik government returned clandestinely from exile, including the former Minister of Agriculture, Noe Khomeriki, as well as the commander of the old National Guard, V. Jugheli; both were caught and subsequently shot. A heavy loss was sustained early in 1923 by the Georgian patriots, when fifteen members of the military centre were arrested. Among these were the principal leaders of the resistance movement, Generals Konstantine Abkhazi, Alexander Andronikashvili and Vardan Dsulukidze; they were executed on 20 May 1923. An appeal was addressed by the Georgian Catholicos-Patriarch Ambrosius to the international conference held at Genoa in 1922, in which he described the conditions under which the Georgians were living since the Red Army invasion and begged for the help of the civilized world. Ambrosius was immediately thrown into prison by the Communists and kept there until they imagined that his spirit was broken. The Bolsheviks then staged a public trial, at which the aged and venerated head of the Georgian Church demonstrated such moral fortitude that his ordeal turned into a great victory for his Church and nation. His concluding words were: ‘My soul belongs to God, my heart to my country; you, my executioners, do what you will with my body.’ The Communists did not dare to execute Ambrosius, who died in captivity in 1927.

Lenin was paralysed during the summer of 1922 by his first stroke and had to delegate much of his authority to Stalin, now General Secretary of the Party. Following a spate of rumours and complaints coming in from Tbilisi, however, an investigation commission headed by Felix Dzerzhinsky, head of the Soviet secret police, was sent to Georgia to report on the position there. Even the hardened Dzerzhinsky was horrified at the excesses committed by Orjonikidze and his associates under Stalin’s orders. Dzerzhinsky’s report contributed to Lenin’s growing distrust of Stalin and his decision to exclude him from the future leadership of the Party. He resolved also to suspend Orjonikidze from party membership. In his Testament and other documents dictated shortly before his death, Lenin wrote that he ‘felt strongly guilty before the workers of Russia for not having intervened vigorously and drastically enough in this notorious affair’. He was disgusted at the ‘swamp’ in which the Party had landed over the Georgian business. Under Stalin and Dzerzhinsky, the small nations of Russia were exposed to ‘the irruption of that truly Russian man, the Great Russian chauvinist, who is essentially a scoundrel and an oppressor, as is the typical Russian bureaucrat’. Stalin had let his personal vindictiveness run away with him, showing himself ‘not merely a genuine social chauvinist, but a coarse brutish bully acting on behalf of a Great Power’. The trouble was, Lenin shrewdly diagnosed, that Stalin the Georgian and Dzerzhinsky the Pole had gone out of their way to assume true Russian characteristics. ‘It is well known that russified people of foreign birth always overshoot themselves in the matter of the true Russian disposition.’ On 5 March 1923, Lenin broke off personal relations with Stalin, and urged Trotsky to defend the Georgian ‘deviationists’ before the Central Committee of the all-Russian Communist Party. The next day he wired a message to the leaders of the Georgian opposition, promising to take up their case at the forthcoming Party Congress: ‘I am with you in this matter with all my heart. I am outraged by the arrogance of Orjonikidze and the connivance of Stalin and Dzerzhinsky.’ Lenin also prepared to send Kamenev to Tbilisi on another commission of enquiry. In the middle of these moves, on 9 March 1923, Lenin suffered the third attack of his illness, from which he never recovered; his death took place on 21 January 1924.

The insurrection of 1924

Lenin’s illness and death saved Stalin from disgrace. In spite of Lenin’s warnings and his own fears, Trotsky came to terms with Stalin and his group. He even helped Stalin, Zinoviev and Kamenev to conceal from the world Lenin’s deathbed confession of shame at the intolerant treatment of the non-Russian nationalities, the text of which was not published until 1956. At the 12th Party Congress in April 1923, the Georgian Communists found themselves isolated. With Lenin’s notes suppressed, every word uttered from the platform against Georgian or Ukrainian nationalism was greeted with stormy applause, while the mildest allusion to Great Russian chauvinism was received in stony silence. Stalin bided his time before actually striking down his opponents among the Georgian Communist leadership. Budu Mdivani and his associates were not actively molested until 1929, while the real blood bath among the Georgian Old Bolsheviks did not take place until the great purge of 1936-37.

Driven beyond endurance, the Georgian people were now preparing for a last desperate effort to regain their freedom. Plans were laid for a general insurrection, scheduled for 29 August 1924. The plan miscarried. Through some misunderstanding, the mining centre of Chiatura and the surrounding district rose up in arms on August 28 instead of the appointed day. At first the insurgents achieved considerable success. A number of Red Army units were eliminated. But the Russian commander in Georgia, Mogilevsky, reinforced all strategic positions in and around Tbilisi, and repulsed the chief forces of the patriots, led by Colonel Kaikhosro Choloqashvili. Mogilevsky was later killed in a dramatic manner. A young Georgian airman who was piloting his plane crashed deliberately; all the occupants, including the pilot himself, were killed.

The unequal battle raged for three weeks. The rising was crushed and terrible reprisals took place. Conservative estimates place the number of prisoners and hostages killed by the victorious Communists at between 7,000 and 10,000. Many women and children were slain in cold blood. In the village of Ruisi, for instance, every human being carrying the name of Paniashvili was put to death. About 20,000 persons were sent to Siberia immediately after the insurrection. Many months later, foreign visitors to Tbilisi would receive smuggled notes begging them to intercede for individual prisoners held captive in the dungeons of the Cheka, while lorry-loads of prisoners being driven off into exile were a common sight on the roads.

The death of Lenin, the onset of the Stalin era, and the defeat of the 1924 insurrection mark the final establishment of Soviet rule over Georgia. Not one of the great powers which had accorded the Georgian Republic full recognition only three years previously raised a finger to help the Georgian people in their struggle. At the same time, the abominations committed by Stalin against his own people created a deplorable impression on world opinion. As Lenin rightly foresaw, the Great Russian chauvinism of that vindictive Caucasian exposed the Russian Communist party to world-wide opprobrium, and proved a great obstacle to the Soviet government’s attempts to come to an understanding with foreign socialist parties and countries abroad.


Industrial development

THE SUPPRESSION of the 1924 uprising was followed by an uneasy calm. Military pacification was soon completed and an appearance of normality returned to the country. The relative prosperity brought to Russia by Lenin’s New Economic Policy (NEP), with its tolerance of private enterprise in commerce and agriculture, had a beneficial effect on Georgia. Although the entire land surface had been nationalized following the Bolshevik occupation in 1921, no attempt was made as yet to enforce collectivization, so that the peasants continued for the time being to enjoy the use of the land distributed to them during the period of Georgian independence. The Communist Party of Georgia preferred for a time to use peaceful persuasion rather than armed coercion to extend their hold over the masses. Particular stress was laid on education and the spreading of literacy, while religious teaching was suppressed as far as possible. Far-reaching changes were made in the structure, curriculum and personnel of Tbilisi StateUniversity. The Rector, the noted historian Ivane Javakhishvili ( 1876-1940), was dismissed from his post and replaced by a professor more in tune with Communist aims; as it turned out, this eclipse probably saved Javakhishvili’s life, since the then Rector of the University was among the purge victims during the terror of 1936-37.

Substantial progress was made with the industrialization of Georgia even during the NEP period. The impressive ZemoAvchala hydro-electric scheme was completed during this time. A British trades union delegation which visited the Caucasus towards the end of 1924 saw the scheme under construction and reported:

‘Tiflis, like other towns in Russia, is to have a great electricity power station. Plant that will harness 36,000 horse-power from the River Kura is now being erected. . . . The distance of the power station from the city is approximately twelve miles. . . . Already the work has made such progress that the dam is nearing completion. It will form a huge basin, harnessing the surging waters, which will accumulate in prodigious numbers millions of gallons and tons of weight. . . . The machinery is already in position and a perfect plant has been gathered together. The undertaking has another twelve months to run before completion. Three busy shifts are employing approximately a thousand workers in each shift. The men are housed in the best dwelling accommodation obtainable for such undertakings. . . . The wages rise from a rouble a day to 4 roubles; the food is obtained on a co-operative basis and is cheap. Efforts are being made on a practical and effective scale for the entertainment, training, and even the education of the workers employed. The Delegation saw a most industrious and orderly set of men in full and willing co-operation. . . .’113

The Zemo-Avchala hydro-electric station named after V. I. Lenin was officially opened by M. I. Kalinin on 26 June 1927.

As was the case in England during the Industrial Revolution of the nineteenth century, the rapid growth of the urban working population of the Soviet Union resulted in a shortage of cheap foodstuffs. The peasants, cherishing their new-found mastery of the land, refused to deliver food to the towns at government-controlled prices. Both in Georgia and in European Russia, the breaking up of the old landlords’ estates often resulted in loss of efficiency and a fall in production. Smallholdings operated on a primitive subsistence basis proved less productive than the larger, systematically cultivated estates which had existed prior to the 1917 Revolution. This emerges clearly from figures cited in a recent official history of Georgia, which notes that as late as 1925-26, the acreage under grain in Georgia amounted to only 92.8 per cent. of the pre-1914 average, while the harvest as a whole yielded only 94•4 per cent. of the pre-1914 total. It is instructive to note, however, that the return from ‘technical cultures’, i.e. sub-tropical and specialized crops such as tobacco, tea and citrus fruits, exceeded the pre-1914 figure by 26.7 per cent.114 This is to be explained by the fact that these crops were grown on lands newly reclaimed from the marshy swamps of Western Georgia, and on plantations exploited as co-operative or state enterprises and equipped with modern tools and machinery.

Georgian agriculture collectivized

The inception of the first Five-Year Plan in 1928, and the great drive towards full-scale collectivization of Soviet agriculture, marked the beginning of a new phase in Georgian as well as in Russian social and economic history. Enterprises like the Chiatura manganese mines, which had for some years been leased on a concessionary basis to the American Harriman interests, were brought under direct state management and expanded at a rapid rate. The Georgian Communist Party resolved to follow the Russian example of large-scale collectivization of agriculture and sent a thousand ‘activist’ members of the Komsomol or Communist Youth organization to Moscow to study the latest developments in Soviet economic and social theory. When these young enthusiasts returned to Georgia, a propaganda campaign was launched in order to persuade the peasantry of the benefits of the collective farm system. Groups of party workers toured the countryside, urging the people to abandon their antique methods of agriculture and embark voluntarily on the new programme. Special conferences of poor peasants and landless agricultural workers were held, at which their grievances against the more prosperous kulak class were vigorously whipped up.

This initial campaign met with scant success. The Georgian peasantry, to whom such characteristically Russian institutions as the peasant mir or commune were alien, clung with the courage of desperation to their individual small-holdings. Opposition to the new measures was by no means confined to the rich peasants or kulaks, but was met with among the majority of the middling or poorer ones also. This fact was admitted by a number of the leading Georgian Communists, who ventured to express doubt as to whether the elimination of a few socalled kulaks would suffice to bring about agricultural reform in a land which was basically one of middling and poor peasants. Holders of such views were denounced as ‘rightist opportunists’, and extensive purges of lukewarm officials and party workers took place: the Kaspi and Telavi regional committees of the Communist Party, for instance, were drastically overhauled in 1931, all their leading members being dismissed from their posts.

The war against the kulaks

The Secretary of the Central Committee of the Georgian Communist Party, Mikheil Kakhiani, ordered a ruthless, all-out campaign to be launched to achieve full collectivization of Georgian agriculture by February 1931, the tenth anniversary of Soviet rule in Georgia. He declared: ‘The kulaks as a class must be destroyed.’ On 19 January 1930, a decree of the plenum of the Central Committee of the Georgian Communist Party was published, containing the following provisions:

1.    All kulaks are to be removed from areas scheduled for complete collectivization.

2.    Agricultural equipment belonging to kulaks is to be turned over to the use of kolkhozes (collective farms).

3.    When wine-growing areas are subjected to general collectivization, wine cellars belonging to kulaks are to be taken from them and handed over to the collectives.

4.    Livestock and implements are to be taken from kulaks.

5.    Lands belonging to kulaks are to be confiscated and given to the kolkhozes.

6.    Economic, administrative and legal sanctions are to be applied against the kulaks, and public trials of them staged; all kulakproperty must be confiscated; kulaks agitating against collectivization are to be arrested.

7.    Kulaks are to be forced to engage in public works and compulsory labour.

Five thousand agricultural students and young Communist propagandists were recruited for the campaign. One brigade of Party workers, each with a supporting detachment of OGPU guards or Red Army troops, was assigned to each district of Georgia. They undertook lightning campaigns in selected villages, turning alleged kulaks out of their homes and

distributing their goods and chattels to the poorer peasants. No objective criterion existed as to what constituted a kulak. Those luckless families whom local Communist committees chose to brand as such were driven from their native villages with nothing but the clothes they wore, and drifted homeless and starving about the countryside. Party Secretary Kakhiani reported jubilantly toMoscow: ‘Collectivization is going full speed ahead, and the new forms of Soviet economy are meeting with a unanimous and enthusiastic welcome from the peasants.’

In reality, the whole Georgian countryside was in turmoil. In Mingrelia and Abkhazia, groups of women armed with sticks marched through the kolkhoz fields, persuading the peasants to abandon work and go home. Oxen were unharnnessed and driven into the woods. The women besieged the offices of the local authorities, demanding the release of their husbands from jail, and the abolition of the kolkhoz system. Violent and sanguinary clashes took place between NKVD detachments armed with machine-guns and angry peasant women armed with sticks and stones. Armed uprisings took place in southern Georgia in Borchalo and Lori, which had to be put down by entire battalions of Red Army troops. Partisans in mountain Svaneti declared Soviet rule at an end and set up their own administration. On the Georgian military highway, in the Dusheti district, the local militia was disarmed by peasants, who then moved south towards Tbilisi in the hope of joining forces with other insurgent groups. Fierce fighting broke out in Kakheti, where a hundred and fifty soldiers were killed. Over a thousand families were deported to Siberia from Kakheti alone. Different tactics were employed by peasants in the Gori district, who agreed to become kolkhoz members and adopted a go-slow policy and sabotagedkolkhoz property. If any Communist foreman displayed an excess of zeal, he would disappear in the night and be seen alive no more.

‘Dizziness with Success’

Chaotic as was the situation in Georgia, that prevailing in European Russia, especially in the black earth lands of the Ukraine, was far worse. The overwhelming majority of the peasantry confronted the government with desperate opposition. A veritable civil war developed as rebellious villages were surrounded by machine-guns and forced to surrender. Masses of so-called kulaks and their families were deported to remote wildernesses in Siberia and left to starve or freeze to death. Those that remained slaughtered cattle, smashed implements and burned crops. Whole regions were cordoned off by troops and NKVD detachments and starved into submission. At last Stalin himself became aware of the consequences of his impetuous drive towards complete collectivization, which threatened the very fabric of Soviet society. On 2 March 1930, he issued a statement entitled ‘Dizziness with Success’, in which he blamed all the inhuman excesses which had taken place on over-zealous local officials. Stalin admitted that many of the collective farms which had been set up by force were not viable as going concerns, and pretended that his instructions had been misunderstood. Without consulting the Politbureau and the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party, that same Stalin who had for months been issuing peremptory directives ordering compulsory collectivization at all costs now declared: ‘Collective farms cannot be set up by force’, and called for a cessation of violence and a pause for peaceful consolidation.

This volte-face caused consternation in Georgian and Transcaucasian Communist circles. A temporary halt in the ‘building of socialism’ was called while heads of revolutionary committees made a tour of inspection through the villages. An emergency session of the Central Committee of the Georgian Communist Party heard a report by the doyen of Georgian Communists, Philip Makharadze, indicting the local Party organizations for their misplaced zeal. However, the real culprit was the Central Committee itself, whose Second Secretary was forced to admit that local Party committees had been urged to collectivize everything and everybody in a day, ‘right down to the last chicken’. The Georgian Communists could not deny that many of those who had been victimized and driven from their homes were not rich kulaks at all. Philip Makharadze stated in the newspaper Komunisti (The Communist):

‘It was not only the kulaks but also the smallholders and poorer peasants who were affected by the anti-kulak campaign. A number of facts are now available which prove that a large part of the ‘dekulakized’ persons were in fact smallholders. . . . During the campaign, whole families were moved from their homes, including old people of eighty and ninety, invalids, women and children. They were moved from their homes, but where to? No one knew where they were supposed to go. Comrades, the result of these mistakes was that in many areas the peasant smallholders expressed their pity for the kulaks. Intimidated by this anti-kulakcampaign, the peasants joined the kolkhozes. We were told here that they were enthusiastic about joining the kolkhozes, but this was by no means the case. To crown it all, the cattle taken away from the peasants is being allowed to die off through lack of proper care and their equipment is being allowed to spoil.’

In Moscow, S. Eliava, head of the government of Soviet Georgia, declared at a meeting of the Central Committee of the Communist Party: ‘The situation in Georgia and Transcaucasia in general is very grave. Not one corner of the Soviet Union experiences at the moment such difficulties . . . The Georgian peasantry is only waiting for a chance. . . . Thousands of them have gone into the mountains and forests to wage battle against us.’

It was no secret that Stalin himself was personally responsible for all this misery. However, a scapegoat was found in the person of Kakhiani, who was dismissed from the post of Secretary of the Central Committee of the Georgian Communist Party and sent off to a minor post in Turkestan. When the disturbances eventually died down, the net result of Georgia’s first collectivization drive was the creation by 1932 of some 3,400 kolkhozes, incorporating about 17,000 former peasant holdings, representing 36•4 per cent. of the national total. A score or more of Sovkhozes or state farms were also formed. There existed in the whole of Georgia only thirty-one tractor stations, and it was a long time before agricultural production recovered from the chaotic condition into which doctrinaire folly had plunged it.

The rise of Beria

The Georgian Communists could not help resenting the invidious role in which Stalin’s bungling had placed them, with the result that mutual antagonisms between him and the local Georgian Party leadership flared up afresh. In 1932, when Stalin’s popularity in theSoviet Union had sunk to a low ebb, memoranda on the need to depose him from the post of General Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party began to circulate in the highest quarters. Instrumental in the campaign to oust Stalin were the leading Georgian Bolshevik, Beso Lominadze, who had been secretary of the Communist Party of the Transcaucasian Federation, and Syrtsov, premier of the Russian Federative SSR, both of whom had rendered Stalin loyal aid in defeating his Trotskyist and Bukharinite opponents in the Party. Lominadze and Syrtsov were merely urging the Central Committee to depose Stalin constitutionally by voting him down at a meeting of the Committee; however, they were charged with conspiracy, imprisoned and liquidated. Morbidly sensitive to hostility on the part of his Georgian compatriots, Stalin felt it necessary to place in charge of Caucasian affairs an individual on whose unwavering personal loyalty he could count. His choice fell upon L. P. Beria ( 1899-1953), a man who was many years later to be unmasked as an enemy of the people and condemned to die as a traitor to the Soviet fatherland.

Lavrenti Beria came of a poor Mingrelian peasant family living in the Sukhumi district of Abkhazia, near the Black Sea. He joined the Bolshevik party in 1917 while studying at a technical college in Baku, and thereafter took part in organizing an illegal underground group of Bolshevik technicians. His skill in this work led to his appointment in 1921 to a post in the Caucasian Cheka. By the time he was thirty-two, he had been Vice-president of the Cheka in Azerbaijan and Georgia, President of the Georgian GPU, and then President of the Caucasian State Police and chief representative of the OGPU in Transcaucasia. His special task was the elimination of all anti-Bolshevik groups in the Caucasus, for success in which task he was decorated with the order of the Red Banner of the Republics of Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. In October 1931, Beria was transferred from his post in the secret police and made Second Secretary of the Central Committee of the Transcaucasian Communist Party, the First Secretary of which, Kartvelishvili by name, strongly disliked Beria’s unsavoury personality and methods. Kartvelishvili, a personal friend of the influential Bolshevik leader Sergo Orjonikidze, categorically refused to Beria fabricated a series of untrue charges against Kartvelishvili, who was soon deported from the Caucasus and put to death. The vacant post of First Secretary of the Transcaucasian Party organization was then occupied by Beria himself.

The Five-Year Plans

From 1932 until 1938, Beria exercised dictatorial powers in Transcaucasia. He played a leading role in implementing the Second Five-Year Plan in Georgia between 1933 and 1937. At the cost of immense effort and sacrifice, Georgian industrial development made great strides forward. The Zestafoni ferroalloy plant went into production during this period, as did the Tbilisi machine-tool factory named after S. M. Kirov. Further progress was made in harnessing the power potential of Georgia’s rivers. The Rioni, Atcharis-dsqali and Sukhumi hydro-electric schemes were completed and a start was made with the hydro-electric station on the River Khrami. Stakhanovite labour methods were successfully applied in the Chiatura manganese mines and at the Tbilisilocomotive and railway wagon workshops named after I. V. Stalin. By the end of the Second Five-Year Plan, the Avchala cast-iron factory and the Inguri paper combine were in operation, as well as a new chemical and pharmaceutical laboratory in Tbilisi, new industrial plant at Kutaisi, and tea factories in the Black Sea districts of Western Georgia. Drainage and irrigation schemes were carried out. Private enterprise was eliminated from shopkeeping and commerce. Restaurants, hotels and shops were completely municipalized, though this was far from being an unmixed blessing for the consumer and general public.

Beria kept Stalin supplied with secret denunciations of Georgian Bolshevik leaders, officials, writers and teachers. At the 17th Party Congress in 1934 he was elected to the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party; in 1936, he served on the editorial commission for the presentation of the Stalin Constitution. The rise of Beria coincided with the downfall of one of the most distinguished Georgian Bolsheviks, Abel Enukidze, who had begun his career as early as 1904 by running the secret Bolshevik printing press at Baku, and was for years regarded as Stalin’s intimate friend. Abel Enukidze was Secretary-General of the Central Executive Committee which was, prior to the promulgation of the Stalin Constitution, the supreme legislative body of the USSR; its decrees bore Enukidze’s signature jointly with Kalinin’s. Early in 1935, Enukidze was relieved of his post, ostensibly to become Prime Minister of the Transcaucasian Federation. He was shortly afterwards disgraced and suffered death during the purges in 1937. Beria ingratiated himself further with Stalin by building up the famous ‘personality cult’. On 21-22 July 1935, he delivered to a meeting of the Tbilisi Party organization a lecture ‘On the history of the Bolshevik organizations in Transcaucasia’, in which Stalin is given almost exclusive credit for the success of the Caucasian revolutionary movement from 1900 onwards. Beria himself set out to eliminate any of the Georgian Old Bolsheviks who might have felt inclined to challenge the truth of his assertions. The lecture itself was several times republished in book form, each edition containing more adulatory praise of Stalin, and more vitriolic denunciation of Stalin’s rivals, many of whom Beria had himself tortured and shot. In the English edition of 1949, for instance, the dead Abel Enukidze is denounced as a ‘mortal enemy of the people’, while Budu Mdivani, Vice-Premier of Georgia prior to the great purges, is vilified as a supporter of the ‘arch-bandit Judas Trotsky’ and a fellow-member, with Mikha Okujava, Mikha Toroshelidze, S. Chikhladze, N. Kiknadze and other liquidated Georgian Bolsheviks, of a Trotskyite spying and wrecking terrorist centre, which Beria claimed credit for unearthing in 1936.

Georgia under the purges

Beria was in his element during the great purges of 1936-37. While the unbalanced and degenerate NKVD chiefs Yezhov and Yagoda were torturing and killing millions of high officials, army officers, intellectuals and ordinary citizens throughout Russia, Beria in the Caucasus eliminated every individual whose adherence to the Party Line could be called in question, or whose survival might conceivably challenge the myth of Stalin’s infallibility. The Georgian leaders to whom Stalin had extended effusive and hypocritical congratulations on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of Soviet Georgia in February 1936 were by then already marked down as purge victims. Two separate trials of Georgian Communist leaders for ‘terrorism and high treason’ were held. The first group included Budu Mdivani and the Georgian planning chief Mikha Toroshelidze. The second group was headed by the Georgian Prime Minister, Mgaloblishvili. Among those tortured to death or shot at this time were Mikha Okujava, Mamia Orakhelashvili, Sergi Kavtaradze, Chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars of Georgia, and Lado Dumbadze, Chairman of the first Bolshevik Soviet in Tbilisi. Only Philip Makharadze, then nearing his seventieth birthday, was spared public condemnation. Makharadze was permitted to save himself by confessing his past guilt and pleading for mercy, in return for which he was appointed Deputy Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, an honorific sinecure which he held until his death in 1941.

As in Russia itself, the holocaust in Georgia was carried to diabolical lengths. Denunciations by personal enemies or the receipt of an innocent letter from some friend abroad were sufficient to bring about imprisonment, exile or death. The witch-hunt was carried to great lengths at Tbilisi University, which lost scores of its most brilliant professors and most promising students. Among those who perished was the famous classical scholar and papyrologist Grigol Tsereteli, guilty of having attended international conferences in which scholars from bourgeois countries also participated. The literary historian Vakhtang Kotetishvili vanished without trace, while the outstanding Abkhazian dramatist Samson Chanba ( 18861937) was also put to death. Universal horror was excited by the execution of two of Georgia’s greatest national writers, the novelist Mikheil Javakhishvili and the poet Titsian Tabidze, the latter a close friend of Boris Pasternak, who knew him as ‘a reserved and complicated soul, wholly attracted to the good and capable of clairvoyance and self-sacrifice’.115 A close associate of Tabidze was Paolo Iashvili, a remarkable poet of the post-symbolist period, ‘brilliant, polished, cultured, an amusing talker, European and good-looking’.116 So horrified was Iashvili at the news of Tabidze’s arrest and execution that he went straight to the headquarters of the Union of Georgian Writers, of which he was secretary, and killed himself there.

At a congress of Georgian writers held at Tbilisi in July 1954, the First Secretary of the Georgian Communist Party, V. P. Mzhavanadze, referred to the terrorism exercised by Beria’s agents and said:

‘Comrades, you all know what injury was done to our people by that gang of murderers and spies who now have been unmasked and done away with by our Party. That gang killed many leading and progressive scientists. . . . The Central Committee of the Georgian Communist Party has found out that the outstanding masters of the Georgian language–Mikheil Javakhishvili, Titsian Tabidze and Paolo Iashvili–became victims of the intrigues and terrorism of that abominable gang of murderers. I have pleasure in declaring in the name of the competent organs that these men have been rehabilitated.’

This statement was greeted with loud acclamation, as were the pronouncements of Stalin and Beria in their time; in reality, the fair name of Georgia’s great writers does not depend on Mr. Mzhavanadze and his ‘competent organs’, but is enshrined in the hearts of the Georgian people and their friends.

The Georgian purges were not confined to the capital, but also enveloped the outlying regions, notably the Autonomous Republicsof Abkhazia and Atchara on the Black Sea coast. The Abkhazians had long been subject to colonization both by Russians and Georgians: by 1926, autonomous Abkhazia, covering 3,240 square miles, had a population of 174,000 of which the Abkhazians themselves accounted for less than onethird. Under the Second Five-Year Plan, Abkhazia was directed to step up tobacco production substantially, and more Russians, Georgians, Armenians and Greeks were brought in to work on new plantations and industrial projects. The Abkhazians, who resented these encroachments on their cherished autonomy, protested and in the end fell completely into disgrace with the Kremlin. The leading spokesman of the dissident Abkhaz Bolsheviks, Nestor Lakoba, died a natural death in 1936. In the following year, a purge trial was held at Sukhumi, the Abkhazian capital, at which forty-seven of Lakoba’s friends, relatives and associates were charged with complicity in an imaginary plot to murder Stalin. Ten of the defendants were executed. A similar mass trial was staged at Batumi, the capital of Atchara. Eleven persons, headed by Zakaria Lortkipanidze, Chairman of the Central Executive Committee of Atchara, were accused of belonging to a ‘counterrevolutionary and insurgent organization, engaging in espionage, sabotage and diversion’, maintaining contacts with émigré beksmullahs and kulaks, and destroying crops in plantations and collective farms. The Communist-controlled Georgian Press reported these trials under banner headlines such as: ‘Shoot the accused–that is our verdict!’ ‘Wipe the fascist reptiles off the face of the earth!’ ‘Death to the despised enemies of the people!’ Eight of the accused in the Batumi trial were executed: since Stalin’s death, several of them have been posthumously rehabilitated.

Before the Stalin-Beria purges, Tbilisi was famed for ‘the high level of culture of the leading section of society–an active intellectual life which, by then, was rarely to be found elsewhere.’117 The events of 1937 resulted in the elimination or demoralization of the élite among the Georgian intelligentsia. The next fifteen years or more were a period of utter stagnation in Georgian literature, in which writers eked out an existence by composing dithyrambs about life in factories or on collective farms, or sycophantic odes to Stalin the superman. It is only today that a new generation of Georgian authors is emerging unscarred by the experiences of that grim era.

A fitting climax to the Georgian purges was provided by the suicide of the eminent Georgian Bolshevik, Sergo Orjonikidze ( 1886-1937), long Stalin’s right-hand man, a member of the Politbureau and People’s Commissar for Heavy Industry for the entire Soviet Union. Vigorous and ruthless when necessary, Orjonikidze had a reputation for decency and tried to thwart Beria’s wholesale executions in Georgia. Beria denounced Orjonikidze to Stalin, who sanctioned the liquidation of Orjonikidze’s brother. According to the account given by N. S. Khrushchev, Beria and Stalin between them deliberately brought Orjonikidze to such a state of nervous collapse that he killed himself. He was then accorded a grandiose state funeral and admitted to the pantheon of the great dead Bolshevik fathers.

Political reorganization and the Stalin Constitution

Once he had set in motion the necessary machinery to eliminate all potential opposition in the Caucasus, Stalin dissolved the artificial Transcaucasian Federation into its constituent parts, the Georgian, Armenian and Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republics. To these was granted, in theory at least, a large measure of political devolution, including the right to secede at will from the Soviet Union. This change took place in 1936, when the Stalin Constitution was promulgated. Two years later, Beria was summoned from Tbilisi to Moscow to take over the NKVD in succession to Yezhov and Yagoda, both of whom, after destroying millions of Soviet citizens, had themselves been declared expendable and put to death. The Caucasus was left in charge of officials who owed their promotion to Stalin and Beria, and whose reliability was beyond doubt.

The Georgian émigrés

After Orjonikidze’s death and Makharadze’s recantation, there was none of Stalin’s old associates among the Georgian Bolsheviks who could question his omniscience or bring up the various unsavoury episodes in his revolutionary past. At the same time, the Georgian Menshevik government in exile in Paris continued to present a certain nuisance value. Karlo Chkheidze had died in 1926, and Noe Ramishvili, the forceful Minister of the Interior in the Zhordania government, was struck down in Paris in 1930 by a Georgian assassin reputedly in the pay of the Soviet government. Most of the émigré ministers, however, were distinguished by their longevity, one or two venerable octogenarians being alive even today. For some years after the fall of independent Georgia, until 1933, the Georgian Mensheviks were able to maintain their legation in Paris; the International Committee for Georgia, the president of which was Monsieur Jean Martin, director of the Journal de Genève, kept up a running fight against the admission of the Soviet Union to the League of Nations, which nevertheless took place in 1934. The importance which Stalin attached to the activities of the Georgian émigrés was displayed in 1938, when the Soviet embassy in Paris brought effectual pressure to bear on a pusillanimous French government to ban a celebration of the 750th anniversary of the Georgian national poet Shota Rustaveli, which was to have been held at the Sorbonne. With the rise of Nazi Germany, a number of Georgian exiles joined the Fascist movement. A Georgian Fascist Front was formed, the nucleus of which consisted of a nationalist organization called Tetri Giorgi orWhite George, after the patron saint of Georgia. The leaders of Tetri Giorgi included General Leo Kereselidze and Professor Mikhako Tsereteli, the former Kropotkinite anarchist, who had in the meantime won a high reputation in the German universities as an expert on the Sumerian and Hittite languages.

Georgia during World War II

After killing Marshal Tukhachevsky and decimating the Red Army high command during the purges, Stalin proceeded in 1939 to make war inevitable by concluding the MolotovRibbentrop pact with Nazi Germany. His inordinate selfconfidence led him to ignore repeated warnings from foreign governments and from his own agents abroad, with the result that Russia was caught largely unprepared when Hitler launched his lightning attack in June 1941. The Georgians contributed greatly to the defence of the USSRduring World War II and played an outstanding part in preventing the Germans from penetrating into Georgia from their advanced bases in North Caucasia. German parachutists were dropped at various points in Georgia, but were promptly mopped up by local military units. There were, however, manifestations of unrest within the country which gave the authorities grounds for disquiet. It is said, for instance, that a meeting was held in 1942 in the Tbilisi Opera House at which leaflets were distributed calling on the people to overthrow Russian Communist rule and proclaim Georgia’s independence. On the German side, efforts were made to form a Georgian Legion from émigrés living in Western Europe, combined with Soviet prisoners of war of Georgian extraction. This venture was greatly hampered by the intervention of Rosenberg and other exponents of Nazi racism, who wanted all Georgians sent to extermination camps as non-Aryans, along with the Jews and the Gypsies. The Georgians under Nazi domination were saved only by the intervention of Alexander Nikuradze, a Georgian scientist held in high esteem in the German official world. In 1945, a Georgian sergeant hoisted the flag of victory over the Berlin Reichstag in company with a Russian Red Army soldier. The inter-allied agreement concluded at the end of the war resulted in the forcible repatriation to Soviet Russia of thousands of Georgians who had sought asylum in the West, many of whom were shot or exiled to Siberia on their return home.

The final terror

The last years of Stalin’s life were marked by an intensification of his personal reign of terror. As N. S. Khrushchev declared in 1956, Stalin carried mistrust to the point of mania. ‘He could look at a man and say: “Why are your eyes so shifty today?” or “Why are you turning away so much today and avoiding looking me directly in the eyes?” This sickly suspicion created in him a general distrust even towards eminent party workers whom he had known for years. Everywhere and in everything he saw enemies, two-facers and spies.’ In metropolitan Russia, Stalin’s fantastic delusions manifested themselves in such sinister incidents as the 1949 Leningrad affair, involving the shooting out of hand of the State Planning Chairman Voznesensky, and the bogus ‘Doctors’ Plot’, in which leading Russian physicians narrowly escaped extermination at the hands of the secret police. In the northern Caucasus, Stalin celebrated the retreat of the Germans by ordering the deportation in 1943-44 of the entire Karachay-Balkar and Chechen-Ingush peoples as a punishment for alleged collaboration with the Nazis; the Chechen-Ingush Autonomous SSR was obliterated from the map of the Soviet Union.

After receiving warm commendation for the successful completion of the Fourth Five-Year Plan between 1946 and 1950, Georgiatoo fell under the dictator’s scourge. In 1951, he claimed to have unearthed a nationalist organization centred on Mingrelia, the Western province of Georgia adjoining Lavrenti Beria’s homeland. N. S. Khrushchev stated in 1956: ‘As is known, resolutions by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union concerning this case were passed in November 1951 and in March 1952. These resolutions were made without prior discussion with the Politbureau. Stalin had personally dictated them. They made serious accusations against many loyal Communists. On the basis of falsified documents it was proved that there existed in Georgia a supposedly nationalistic organization whose objective was the liquidation of Soviet power in that republic with the help of imperialist powers. In this connexion, a number of responsible Party and Soviet workers were arrested in Georgia. As was later proved, this was a slander directed against the Georgian party organization. . . . There was no nationalistic organization in Georgia. Thousands of innocent people fell victim of wilfulness and lawlessness. All this happened under the “genial” leadership of Stalin, “the great son of the Georgian nation”, as the Georgians like to term Stalin.’

Concurrently with the Mingrelian affair, prominent Georgian Communists were accused of embezzling state funds, stealing automobiles and plundering state property. Two Georgian Communist Party secretaries, the Chairman of the Georgian Supreme Court and the Minister of Justice were among those removed from their posts late in 1951. These changes failed to satisfy Stalin. In April 1952, Beria, now Vice-President of the Soviet Council of Ministers, came from Moscow to attend a meeting of the Central Committee of the Georgian Communist Party, at which he subjected the party leadership to severe criticism for failing to instil the Communist creed in Georgian youth and to tear out all traces of local nationalism. A new First Secretary of the Georgian Communist Party, A. I. Mgeladze, was appointed, while the Chairman of the Council of Ministers and the Chairman of the Presidium of the Georgian Supreme Soviet were relieved of their posts. Mgeladze set to work to purge the party and governmental apparatus from top to bottom. In six months he replaced half the members of the Central Committee of the Georgian Communist Party who had been returned in the election of 1949, and brought about a complete upheaval in the administrative hierarchy of the Republic. Many chairmen of collective farms and officials of the Comsomol or Soviet Youth movement lost their jobs. The fact that several high officials removed by Mgeladze, notably Valerian Bakradze, Deputy Chairman of the Georgian Council of Ministers, were personal nominees of Beria was taken at the time as a symptom of Beria’s waning prestige in the inner circles of the Kremlin, where rising stars such as Malenkov and Khrushchev were supplanting him in Stalin’s favour.

Death of a dictator

At all events, Mgeladze and his deputy, the Georgian Minister of State Security, N. Rukhadze, made use of the extensive files of the Georgian MVD to accuse some of Beria’s own agents of nationalist deviation and other crimes. It is probable that these denunciations would in time have touched the person of Beria himself. N. S. Khrushchev has said that at the time of his death in March 1953, Stalin was planning the annihilation of many of the veteran Politbureau members: Marshal Voroshilov was under the extraordinary suspicion of being an English spy; Andreev had been dismissed and relegated to limbo; ‘baseless charges’ had been brought against Mikoyan and Molotov. ‘It is not excluded,’ Khrushchev told the 20th Party Congress, ‘that had Stalin remained at the helm for another few months, Comrades Molotov and Mikoyan would probably not have delivered any speeches at this Congress.’ For many leading Soviet statesmen and officials, Stalin’s demise thus came in the nick of time. Whether or not it was due to natural causes is another matter.

Stalin’s death removed from the world stage the most formidable Georgian of all time, a man who combined almost superhuman tenacity and force of character with quite subhuman cruelty and criminality. He took over a Russia backward and divided, and pitchforked it forcibly into the twentieth century. By methods which cannot be condoned by any standards of human or divine morality, he fashioned the social and industrial springboard from which the Soviet Union today is leaping irresistibly forward as one of the two dominant world powers of our generation.


Beria’s brief heyday–The Tbilisi riots–Industry and construction–Scientific advances–Growing pains of modernization—The housing crisis–Farming and plantations–Education, medicine and sport–Scholarship and science–The economic potential of Georgia–Russian nationality policy today

Beria’s brief heyday

WHEN STALIN DIED, Beria stepped into place as one of the new Soviet triumvirs, sharing power for a few weeks with Malenkov and Molotov. Beria now moved with speed to repair his political fences in Georgia. A plenary session of the Central Committee of the Georgian Communist Party was held on 14 April 1953, which dismissed the Party Secretariat headed by A. I. Mgeladze and established a new one under an official named Mirtskhulava. Beria’s old protégé Valerian Bakradze, whom Mgeladze had dismissed from government office, now became Prime Minister of the Georgian Republic. Several prominent supporters of Beria whomMgeladze and his faction had imprisoned were released and given portfolios in the Bakradze administration. The ousted First Secretary, Mgeladze, made an abject confession, declaring that charges of nationalist deviationism which he had levelled againsthighranking Georgian Bolsheviks were based on false evidence which he had forged from motives of personal ambition. N.Rukhadze, Georgian Minister of State Security, who had aided and abetted Mgeladze, was imprisoned. Unlike some officials hostile to Beria, Rukhadze was not saved by Beria’s fall later in the year; it was announced in November 1955 that he had been executed.

Beria did not long share the sweets of power with Malenkov and Molotov. A struggle for mastery developed at the summit

of the Soviet hierarchy. In spite of his powerful position as head of the secret police, Beria fell, dragging down with him many high officials whose careers were linked with his, and whose familiarity with secrets of state made their survival dangerous to the victors. Beria was arrested in July, and his execution for high treason announced late in December 1953. Among other prominent Georgians who fell with him were V. G. Dekanozov, a former Soviet Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, and Minister of Internal Affairs in Georgia; B. Z. Kobulov, a former Soviet Deputy Minister of State Security and later Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs; and S. A. Goglidze, a former Commissar of Internal Affairs in Georgia. These persons and others put to death with them were accused of conspiring with Beria to liquidate the Soviet workers’ and peasants’ régime with the aim of restoring capitalism and the power of the bourgeoisie. While these charges can hardly be taken seriously, little pity need be wasted on Beria and his accomplices, whose hands had for years been dripping with innocent blood.

The elimination of the Beria group in the Georgian government and Party machine brought little joy to the Stalinists whom Beria had ousted. The post of First Secretary of the Georgian Communist Party was filled in September 1953 by the election of a new man, Mr.Vasili P. Mzhavanadze, a former Lieutenant-General in the Red Army. The Second Secretary is a Russian, P. V. Kovanov. On 29 October 1953, a forty-oneyear-old engineer and geologist, Mr. Givi D. Javakhishvili, was elected Prime Minister of the GeorgianRepublic. Under the benign leadership of these gentlemen, Georgia continues to prosper up to the present day. The status ofGeorgia in the higher counsels of the USSR has been enhanced by V. P. Mzhavanadze’s election in June 1957 to candidate membership of the Presidium of the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party. The Georgian Communist, Mr. M. P.Georgadze, was in 1958 appointed Secretary of the Supreme Soviet.

The Tbilisi riots

The only major upheaval which has been reported under the present Georgian administration is the serious riot which occurred inTbilisi on 9 March 1956. This disturbance arose out of perfectly legal demonstrations held to commemorate the third anniversary of Stalin’s death. Popular sentiment was apparently inflamed by the violent denunciation of the late Georgian dictator delivered by N. S. Khrushchev at the 20th Party Congress in the preceding month. The sarcastic and bitter manner in which Khrushchev ascribed all the horrors of the purges to the ‘genial’ leader Stalin, whom, as he ironically put it, the Georgians so much enjoyed calling ‘the great son of the Georgian nation’, must have rankled with the Georgian masses, who had learnt to be proud of the stupendous role which their Soso Jughashvili had played for long in Soviet and in world affairs. During the disturbances, traffic in Tbilisi came to a halt. Trams were overturned and rioters seized private cars and raced through the streets spreading panic and provoking further incidents. Many university students took part in the disorders during which, according to the Rector of Tbilisi University, Mr. VictorKupradze, ‘illegal and forbidden nationalist slogans’ were shouted. Militia and troops soon had the situation under control. During the disorders and subsequent reprisals, one hundred and six persons are said to have been killed, over two hundred wounded, while several hundred more were subsequently deported to labour camps in Siberia.

This isolated incident led foreign observers to draw much exaggerated conclusions as to the present strength of Georgian nationalist sentiment. The Georgians, it is true, are legitimately proud of their past and present achievements in the arts, sciences and letters, and conscious of their national uniqueness among the peoples of the USSR. It is also true that they exhibit at times an unreasonably cantankerous attitude towards neighbouring peoples, including the Russians themselves, from whom they have suffered injury in the past. But this does not mean that the Georgians are forever hatching plots against the Soviet state, as some Western writers would have us believe. N. S. Khrushchev himself ridiculed this idea in 1956, when pouring scorn on Stalin’s obsession with a supposed Georgian nationalist movement planning to take Georgia out of the Soviet Union and join her to Turkey.

‘This is, of course, nonsense. It is impossible to imagine how such assumptions could enter anyone’s mind. Everyone knows howGeorgia has developed economically and culturally under Soviet rule.’ ‘The industrial production of the Georgian republic,’ Mr. Khrushchev continued, ‘is twenty-seven times greater than it was before the Revolution. . . . Illiteracy has long since been liquidated, which, in pre-revolutionary Georgia, included 78% of the population. Could the Georgians, comparing the situation in their republic with the hard situation of the working masses in Turkey, be aspiring to join Turkey? . . . According to the available 1950 census, 65% of Turkey’s total population are illiterate, and of the women, 80% are illiterate. Georgia has nineteen institutions of higher learning, which have about 39,000 students between them. The prosperity of the working people has grown tremendously inGeorgia under Soviet rule. It is clear that as the economy and culture develop, and as the Socialist consciousness of the working masses in Georgia grows, the source from which bourgeois nationalism draws its strength evaporates. . . .’

Industry and construction

The concluding phrase quoted may perhaps contain an element of wishful thinking. None the less, it is undeniable that the Georgians are now reaping the benefit of the industrial and agricultural policies so ruthlessly pursued in the Stalin era. The Soviet government has over the years invested vast sums of money in Georgia, by building factories, dams and hydroelectric stations, draining swamps, constructing airports, schools and other utilities. Between 1913 and 1957, the quantity of electricity generated rose from 20,000,000 to 2,573,000,000 kilowatt-hours. Coal production, which ammounted in 1913 to 70,000 tons, reached 2,967,000 tons in 1957. Iron production rose in the two years between 1955 and 1957 from 436,000 to 640,000 tons, and steel production, totalling only 200 tons in 1940, reached 803,000 in 1957. The total production of rolled metal, of which 20,000 tons were manufactured in 1950, amounted by 1957 to 705,000 tons. Cement production rose between 1932 and 1957 from 133,000 to 1,025,000 tons. Other branches of heavy industry in which production has been appreciably stepped up include machine tools, lorries and electric locomotives.

The reorganization of management in industry and construction works carried out in the USSR in 1957 helped to accelerate the development of the Georgian economy. The country was turned into a single economic region headed by an Economic Council in charge of more than five hundred large industrial establishments. Previously, these enterprises had been under different departments and ministries, many of them based entirely on Moscow, where all decisions had to be made. In the comparatively short period of its working, the Economic Council has demonstrated the advantages of this new form of industrial administration. Management has been brought close to the production floor, while the workers themselves are drawn increasingly into the direction of industry and construction. Workers are encouraged to make suggestions on possible improvements in work methods and techniques, and individuals showing special promise sit on technical committees which exist at the main factories.

Scientific advances

Extensive research has been carried out recently in Georgia into automation, instrument making, electrical engineering andtelemechanics. New scientific institutes have arisen such as the Institute of Applied Chemistry and Electrochemistry, the Research Institute of Automation of Production Processes, and a big electronic data-processing centre. Georgian scientists are doing advanced research in nuclear physics, and the physics of low temperatures and cosmic rays. The nuclear reactor recently installed in Tbilisi enables scientists there to carry out investigations into the peaceful uses of atomic energy. The Georgian Academy of Sciences is setting up an Institute of Semi-Conductors which will contribute to the development of computing techniques,telemechanics and automation. Scientific contacts with countries abroad are growing more regular and varied. In 1958, for example, Georgian scientists attended meetings and congresses in Edinburgh, Leyden, Berlin, Leipzig, Geneva, London, Vienna, Bucarest,Rome and Brussels. The observatory at Abastumani is studying variable stars in collaboration with observatories in the United States, Holland and Ireland.

Growing pains of modernization

This modernization is not without its growing pains. Nor has the industrial development of Georgia been achieved without sacrificing something of what we in the West regard as basic facilities and amenities. In spite of its tourist attractions, Georgia suffers from a chronic shortage of hotels and restaurants. This applies to the capital itself: the Tbilisi Intourist hotel on Rustaveli Avenue to which most visitors are directed is as sepulchral in its dusty décor as its management is friendly and civil, and most of the rival establishments which existed prior to the 1917 Revolution have long since been taken over for other uses. While Tbilisi now has its own efficient television studio and transmitter, the production and marketing of television and radio sets, as well as such consumer durables as refrigerators, washing machines and electric cookers, is far from being equal to the potential demand. In December 1959, Mr. V. P. Mzhavanadze told the 20th Congress of the Georgian Communist Party that many industrial and agricultural enterprises in the republic were not operating satisfactorily and that a shortage of consumer goods persisted. Plans for building schools and cultural and medical centres were lagging. ‘It is enough to note that during the past two years only 97 schools have been built instead of the planned total of 525; only 77 medical centres instead of 330; only 155 cultural centres instead of 735; and only 77 bath-houses instead of 555.’ If Georgia were to pull its weight in the new Seven-Year Plan for 1959-65, then severe sanctions would have to be applied against inferior standards of work and behaviour, Marxist-Leninist ideological campaigns would have to be intensified, and anti-religious propaganda vigorously pursued.

The housing crisis

The housing position in Georgia, though leaving much to be desired, is alleviated somewhat by the fact that the land was not ravaged by the Nazi Germans, as was European Russia, and also by the ease with which simple peasant houses can be run up in this temperate climate from wood, mud and other cheap materials. The rapid growth of Georgia’s urban centres since World War II has led to overcrowding and some of the picturesque quarters of old Tbilisi have degenerated into slums. Some 90,000 flats have been built since the war by state and municipal enterprise, and another 40,000 have been put up in Georgia’s towns by factory and office workers on a cooperative basis. During the current Seven-Year Plan, the rate of housing construction is to increase still faster. The state plans to build over 100,000 more dwellings by 1965, and people constructing their own homes will be assisted to erect another 60,000. A personal visit to the suburbs of Tbilisi in August 1960 showed many blocks of modern flats in the course of active construction.

Farming and plantations

Despite the growth of Georgian industry, the country remains to a large extent a land of agriculture, stock-raising and plantations. The most striking progress in recent years has been in the realm of sub-tropical crops and produce. Georgia today has 125,000 acres of flourishing tea gardens, equipped with the latest tea-picking and processing machinery. By 1965, Georgia is to deliver 170,000 tons gross of green tea leaf to the state. The citrus fruit plantations are only now recovering from the disastrous frosts of 1949-50 and 1953-54, and it will be some time before the 1949 harvest of 710 million fruit is equalled or exceeded. Vineyards are to be extended from 170,000 to 300,000 acres and should yield close on half a million tons of grapes. Personal inspection of the Tbilisibrandy factory and the wine cellars at Tsinandali in Kakheti gives a highly favourable impression of the present management and future potential of this industry, which already markets and exports high-quality wine and brandy on an international scale. The areas under tobacco, olives, sugar beet and maize are also to be greatly extended.

By 1958, there were 6,250 tractors and 1,500 combine harvesters at work in the fields of Georgia. However, the extension of tea and citrus fruit plantations has tended to divert attention away from the growing of wheat and other crops needed to feed Georgia’s expanding population. Thus, in 1950, Georgia had to import three-quarters of the bread supply from other Soviet republics and hardship was experienced by the masses. The changeover from individual husbandry to collective and state farms, though now virtually universal, is not yet fully accepted by all members of the peasant class, some of whom fail to devote the same loving care to collectivized cows and crops as they do to their own little yards and vegetable plots. It must also be remembered that peasants are drifting away from the countryside into the new urban factories or the prosperous state-run tea or wine combines. Compared with the growth of heavy industry and sub-tropical cultures, the production of basic foodstuffs in Georgia appears rather static. The supply of butcher’s meat, for instance, increased between 1950 and 1954 from 51,000 to 84,000 tons; thereafter it rose very slowly, amounting in 1957 to 86,000 tons, a negligible advance. Milk production rose between 1950 and 1956 from 293,000 to 415,000 tons, but sank in the following year to 398,000 tons. Georgia produced in 1950 156 million eggs, a figure which rose to 232 million in 1954, around which quantity annual production has since remained very steady. It is interesting to note that the marketing of eggs remains one of the chief private perquisites of individual peasants, who bring to market over 210 million of them annually, or nine-tenths of the total consumption. Sheep raising in Georgia is clearly on the decline, production of wool having sunk from 4,352 tons in 1950 to 3,894 tons in 1957. However, as the Soviet Union’s internal trading and communications system becomes further rationalized, it should be easy to supplement local food production with cheap grain and dairy products from the Ukraine and elsewhere, leaving Georgian growers free to concentrate on the more rewarding sub-tropical and specialized crops for which Georgia’s climate is uniquely suited.

Education, medicine and sport

The overall progress in Georgia’s economic position is matched by the advances which have been made in education, public hygiene, and sport. The 4,500 schools have a total enrolment of 700,000, which means that one in six of the country’s population is attending school. 181 schools have boarding facilities, of which 7,000 children at present take advantage; the boarding system is shortly to be further expanded. There are over ninety technical colleges and similar institutions, with 27,000 students. Eighteen out of every thousand of the population hold a university degree or training college diploma. The number of hospital beds in Georgia amounts to only 27,800, but the proportion of qualified medical practitioners to the comfortably exceeds the ratio for Western Europe. Spas and sanatoria at Abastumani, Borzhomi, Sukhumi and other places annually receive thousands of visitors from all parts of the Soviet Union.

Before World War II, sports facilities in Georgia were poor and sparse. Today the republic has 70 stadiums, 1,000 football fields, 4,500 volleyball and basketball courts, 270 gymnasia and 20 swimming pools. Georgia’s ten best sportsmen participated as members of Soviet teams in the 16th Olympic Games at Melbourne, eight of them returning home with Olympic medals.

Scholarship and science

Science, scholarship and higher education are in a flourishing condition, as the writer was able to verify when visiting Tbilisi as well as from regular correspondence and personal contacts with Georgian colleagues. The Academy of Sciences of the Georgian SSR now has forty-four specialist branches employing over 2,000 scholars and scientists. There is a separate Academy of Agricultural Sciences. Many of the academicians are also professors at the Tbilisi University and are men of international standing. The physiologist Ivane Beritashvili, for instance, was elected in 1959 an honorary member of the New York Academy of Medical Sciences, on the occasion of his seventy-fifth birthday.

Much attention is given to the study of Georgian language, literature and history. Since 1950, six volumes of a definitive Georgian lexicon have appeared, compiled under the direction of Professor Arnold Chikobava, whose criticism of N. Y. Mart’s ‘Japhetic’ theory led up to Stalin’s official repudiation of Marrist linguistic theory and methods. Professor Simon Qaukhchishvili has brought out a new edition of the Georgian Annals (Kartlis tskhovreba), based on all the best manuscripts. Professors Akaki Shanidze and KomeliKekelidze and their disciples continue their outstanding work on the classics of Old Georgian literature, the principal monuments of which are now assembled in a special Institute of Manuscripts under the care of Ilia Abuladze. The Institute of the History of Georgian Literature named after Shota Rustaveli and the Institute of the History of Georgian Art are only two of many foundations actively studying Georgia’s cultural heritage. The teaching of European and Oriental languages is energetically pursued. The principal second language of instruction in Georgian schools and colleges is Russian, but English, French and German are taught in the main institutions. The works of Dickens, Thackeray, Defoe and Sir Walter Scott are among the English classics available in Georgian. Since 1953, one of the main publishing houses has been issuing the works of Shakespeare in Georgian translation, several plays in renderings by Prince Ivane Machabeli ( 1854-98), the rest translated by Givi Gachechiladze and other modern scholars.

The economic potential of Georgia

It is sometimes objected that the material and cultural advances are outweighed by the loss of Georgia’s independence, and the merging of her national destinies into those of the Soviet Union as a whole. There are naturally some Georgians who would like to cast loose the leading strings of Moscow, while retaining the concrete benefits which have accrued in recent years. It is doubtful, however, whether such a development would be either feasible or beneficial, even assuming that Mr. Khrushchev suddenly encouraged Georgia to take advantage of the ‘break away’ clause in the 1936 Constitution. Economic and political integration withRussia assures Georgia a virtual monopoly of a huge market for tea, wine, citrus fruits, manganese and a score of other valuable commodities, as well as such modem amenities as a twice daily jet plane service to Moscow. There is little or no unemployment, andGeorgia is spared the ruinous outlay of maintaining a standing army and other burdens which proved so detrimental both to her kings of old, and to her independent régime of 191 8-21.

Russian nationality policy today

Friends of Georgia will naturally hope that further de-Stalinization is in store for her, as well as for the Soviet Union as a whole, and that the monolithic exclusiveness of single-party rule will give way over the generations to a more truly democratic system. There are indeed many signs that the present masters of Russia are alive to the danger which Lenin foresaw when he denounced the oppression of the smaller nations of the Soviet community by the type of person whom he termed ‘that truly Russian man, the Great Russian chauvinist, who is essentially a scoundrel and an oppressor’, and that Moscow is well aware of the need to avoid flouting the susceptibilities and traditions of the smaller peoples of the USSR.

The Stalin personality cult received a fresh setback at the time of the 22nd Party Congress held at Moscow in October 1961, at which the accusations levelled at the dead Georgian dictator in secret session in 1956 were repeated in public with added vehemence, and his embalmed body removed from the famous mausoleum in Red Square. In Georgia, Stalin’s demotion was received with mixed feelings. Relief was mingled with bewilderment, while some people suspected that abuse of Stalin was being used in certain quarters as a pretext for discrediting the Georgians generally. Stalin’s name was deleted from the official designation of Tbilisi University, and Stalinir, the capital of South Ossetia, reverted to its old name of Tskhinvali. At the congress of the GeorgianComsomol or Communist Youth organization held in Tbilisi in January 1962, delegates discussed current problems of the day with an outspoken frankness unthinkable a few years ago.

The case of Georgia illustrates the achievements, both good and less good, of the radical and drastic methods of Soviet social engineering when applied to economically backward areas. Not everyone finds the Soviet system of government sympathetic, especially when the interests of the Soviet peoples are represented by a Muscovite Big Brother trying to cow the world by mouthing nuclear menaces. The Georgians have had much to suffer from that same Big Brother in their time. But when one contrasts the dynamic economic and industrial system of Georgia with the chronic instability of some modern countries of the Middle East, or with the deplorable stagnation and effeteness of others, there is no denying the positive side of Russia’s work in Georgia. The Soviet formula for a federation of European and Asiatic peoples under the domination of Russian Communists is not a perfect one, especially as it takes absolutely no account of the personal preferences or political aspirations of each national group. But at least it ensures that when at last the day comes for Georgia and other smaller peoples of the Soviet Union to enjoy a larger measure of free speech, genuine democracy and a wider self-determination, they will do so without drifting back into a vicious circle of ignorance, poverty and disease, and be able to stand on their own feet economically and industrially in this competitive modern age.

113.      Russia: The Official Report of the British Trades Union Delegation to Russia and Caucasia, Nov. and Dec., 1924, London 1925, pp. 230-31.

114.      N. A. Berdzenishvili, edit., History of Georgia. Manual for the 8th and 9th forms, Tbilisi 1960, p. 323.

115.      Boris Pastemak, An Essay in Autobiography, London 1959, p. 114.

116.      Pastemak, An Essay in Autobiography, p. 110.

117.      Pastemak, An Essay in Autobiography, p. 111.


Material is reposted from Andrew Andersen’s website