Consequences of World War II for Georgia
05 May, 2011
Consequences of World War II for Georgia

The Second World War was an overwhelming tragedy for Georgia. It had taken the lives of 25 percent of Georgia’s strong young men which had made 12.5 percent of ethnic Georgians in the country. Most importantly and regretfully, after the War Georgia said goodbye to the idea and hope of restoring its national independence in a long time to come. Professor Simon Maskharashvili has more.
GJ – The victory of the Soviet Union in the Second World War had buried

deep and long the ideas of national liberation in Georgia. Stalin’s personality cult was born and strengthened in the Soviet country after the War. Stalin was equally venerated as a savior by Georgians, Russians and all other nationalities comprising the Soviet Union. How had the events developed in the aftermath of the big War?
SM – Something very weird had happened, frankly speaking. Stalin, who was treated like an idol by the entire Soviet people, restarted the purges in the end of 1940’s. He exiled everybody whose family members had ever been in German captivity as a POW or had fled to Germany during the War. After that, there came the so called ‘Mingrelian Affair’.
GJ – That was a real cause celebre, wasn’t it? What was the gist of the case?
SM – The inhabitants of one of Georgia’s western regions, called Mingrelians, were declared the members of an anti-Soviet organization. The state apprehended them, executed them or exiled them. But it was not only Georgia where this kind of purges was taking place. The vicious communist machine operated ubiquitously all over the USSR. For example, in 1947 Stalin had arrested the father of Soviet aviation, the minister of aviation of the USSR, deputy commander-in-chief Novikov and had him stripped of marshal’s military rank. Novikov spent the rest of his life in prison where he finally passed away. 
GJ – Could you please give us the names of ethnic Georgian marshals and generals, the participants in the Second World War?
SM – Stalin himself was marshal and was later ranked generalissimo. Beria also had marshal’s military rank. He played an essential role in the process of creating the Soviet atom, so to speak. Beria was in charge of the home front (the rear) in the duration of the entire War. He also headed the reconnaissance efforts in favor of the Soviet Union in World War II, saying nothing about his substantial presence on the Caucasus Front. Beria was a very serious military figure. The popularity of General Constantine Leselidze is also recognized. The War knows the names of about 20 ethnic Georgian generals, among them the army commander general Porphyry Chanchibadze. This young handsome officer, who used to be a very important military figure, had only lived to reach the rank of colonel general.
GJ – How did he die?
SM – Well . . . it became known that he had indulged in extra-marital relations with the soviet general’s wife who used to be the commander of the front within which the army of Chanchibadze was fighting. All of a sudden, Stalin remembered that ethics was an issue too and had General Chanchibadze disciplined, so the young general’s career was crippled. Otherwise, he could have reached the military rank of an army general, or even marshal.
GJ – Was he a talented professional?
SM – Absolutely! He was outstanding among the Georgian military elite.
GJ – What can you tell us about the Georgian women who had participated in the War?
SM – The Georgian women were very active in the War, both on the front line and in the rear. One of the most famous female heroes was Zoya Rukhadze whose story became a legend. She was captured and cruelly tortured by the fascists. The female population was not normally recruited to fight in the War, but as soon as the myth of the ‘Great Leader’ (Stalin) was born and the ideological machine was cranked up, many women volunteered to go to war. But the most important part of the situation in Georgia was that the Second World War was an overwhelming tragedy for Georgia. It had taken the lives of 25 percent of Georgia’s strong young men which had made 12.5 percent of ethnic Georgians in the country. I am not saying anything about the physically and psychologically wounded young people. And most importantly and regretfully after the War Georgia said final goodbye to the idea and hope of restoring its national independence in a long time to come. Following the Second World War, the United Nations Organization was created part of which became the USSR too. Formally, the Ukraine and Belarus became separate members. Georgia and Azerbaijan had the same chance, but that would not have meant anything serious. Those additional memberships were achieved by the Soviet government just for additional votes in favor of the Soviet Union. Nothing else! (Continued in the next article on the same page)

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