The Russian War, uprising by Georgian troops on Texel

GETUIGENVERHALEN.NL

 

Realisation project:

Stichting Traktor ©, Arnold van Bruggen

 

Timeframe: 1940 – 1945
Location: Texel
Number of interviews: 15

 

Thematic collection: Erfgoed van de Oorlog

DANS: https://doi.org/10.17026/dans-x59-qtcy

 

After a period of occupation that was relatively peaceful for Texel, a bloody uprising broke out among the Georgian soldiers stationed on the Wadden Island in April 1945. In prisoner-of-war camps of the Wehrmacht, they had enlisted in the German armed forces, partly out of necessity but sometimes also to fight against Stalin. Via France, 800 Georgian soldiers of the Red Army were brought to Texel, where they were to be deployed against the Allies in the eastern part of the Netherlands. Because the Georgians were regarded as traitors by the Soviet Union, they would certainly be sent to a labour camp in Siberia after the war. In an attempt to save their reputation, they rebelled against the Germans. The northern half of Texel was virtually burned to the ground by the German soldiers during the two-month punitive campaign. More than 100 Texel people died, about 600 Georgians and probably an even larger number of German soldiers.

 

The ‘Russo War’, as the Georgian uprising was also called, was hardly mentioned on Texel for a long time. The reason for this taboo was the division among the Texel people as to whether the Georgians had deliberately driven the island into the abyss with them, or whether they should be regarded as liberators. Moreover, during the Cold War, many identified the Georgians with communists, and sympathisers of the Georgians were also known as such. Refugees, former members of the resistance and witnesses who did not play an active role are all interviewed as part of the oral history project.

The documentary reconstructs the causes and course of ‘The Russo War’ on the basis of Dutch and Georgian eyewitnesses. It becomes clear that not all Texel inhabitants share the heroic image of the uprising. Many islanders are still angry about what they see as the rash actions of the Georgians. In the film, the interviews, in which the anger and pain of the mostly sober islanders comes to the surface, are alternated with images of the island of Texel, a peaceful place where this almost forgotten tragedy once took place.