Eric LeeJun 2, 2020
The Night of the Bayonets
The Texel Uprising and Hitler's Revenge, April–May 1945
Greenhill Books 2020
Eric Lee's new book The Night of the Bayonets: The Texel Uprising and Hitler's Revenge, April–May 1945 (Greenhill Books, 2020) tells the story of the events leading up to the little-known revolt of Georgian Wehrmacht recruits against the Germans on the island of Texel, which was part of the Atlantic Wall fortifications off the Dutch coast. These Georgians had been captured as POWs and recruited into or “volunteered” for the Georgian Legion, a Wehrmacht unit made up of former Soviet Georgian troops, often given the choice to join or die. They served unreliably on the Eastern Front before being transferred to the West. There they plotted revolt against the Germans from 1944 in conjunction with Dutch Communist resistance fighters. The revolt was sparked in 1945, as Hitler was hiding in his Fuhrerbunker and the Red Army advancing on Berlin, by news the Georgians were going to be sent to the mainland in what would likely have been a deadly stand against the Allies. Unwilling to die for the Germans, the Georgian Wehrmacht soldiers launched a surprise revolt, slitting the throats of over 400 Germans on the island of Texel in a night. The revolt devolved into all out warfare as the Germans turned the sea batteries on the island and the Georgians took no prisoners while Dutch civilians were caught in the crossfire. The revolt ended when both Georgians and Germans surrendered to Canadian troops. Most of the Georgians were repatriated without reprisal to the USSR where they lived quiet lives. Eric Lee walks us through these events and discusses the legacy of the Texel revolt in the USSR and modern Georgia.