Allies Against Two Evils: Georgian P.O.W.s in World War II’s Bergmann Units and the Quest to Liberate the Caucasus from Russian Imperialism
By Dr. Givi Gabliani MD
Preface by Alexander Kartozia
475 pages. Softcover with 35 black and white photos and maps.
June 2023. Ebook also available.
9781954600911 | $32.95 (pb)
An eye-witness account of the Russian/European conflict at the heart of WWII, relevant today as war rages again along similar battle lines in Ukraine, Crimea and the Caucasus.
Dr. Givi Gabliani, a Georgian exile from a noble family living in the United States since the 1950s, recounts his conscription into the Red Army as a young man shortly after his father was killed in Stalin’s purges, and his coordinated efforts in the “Bergmann” Units. These mountain troops, uniquely composed of fellow P.O.W.s from the Caucasus, fought against Stalin’s forces on the Eastern Front in Ukraine and Crimea. Their goal: to liberate their homelands. Gabliani finds unlikely allies among a group of German officers in the German Resistance, some later executed after their failed plot to assassinate Hitler, who promise to support Georgian Independence.
Gabliani envisions a future Europe supporting a trans-Caucasian alliance with mixed races and religions living together equally in tolerance and prosperous harmony, as they had for millennia in Georgia. As a spokesman for the P.O.W.s, he coordinates with the Georgian exile government in occupied Paris and Berlin, finding a secret effort to save Jews from Georgia and other Eastern European nations.
With a new Introduction by Georgian-German scholar Alexander Kartozia, Gabliani’s war memoir centers our attention on an active faultline. Across the great conflicts of the twentieth century that undergird and still define the region between Russia, with its imperialist ambitions, and the Black Sea, Georgia and the Georgian people appear as some of the most likely partners in the international efforts toward peace.
PRESS and PRAISE
“In 1921, the Soviets occupied Georgia by force. Givi Gabliani naturally opposed Soviet imperialistic and criminal rule. The German Resistance wanted — after the overthrow of Hitler — to liberate the different nations in the Soviet Union from Soviet dictatorship. Therefore, Givi Gabliani as a prisoner of war in 1941 decided to cooperate with the German Resistance. In 1942, he joined a Caucasian volunteer unit which was formed by Admiral Canaris, a leading member of the German Resistance executed in 1945.
“In 1943, Gabliani became a member of the Georgian liaison mission, which represented also the Georgian exile government in Paris. The Georgian liaison mission worked closely together with the German Resistance, especially with Colonel Count Stauffenberg and Ambassador von der Schulenburg, who both were the fathers of the Soviet volunteer [forces] in the German Army.
“The Bergmann military unit was created in 1941, composed of Georgian emigrants to the West as well as those who had stayed in their home country [and were conscripted to fight with the Red Army]. Givi Gabliani, in the frame of the Bergmann unit, and later as a member of the Georgian-National Committee had an important role in this period. His memoirs offer a rich source pertaining to German-Georgian history.”
— Hans von Herwarth, Former German Ambassador to Britain, January 18, 1988.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Givi Gabliani (1915–2001) was a general surgeon who practiced medicine for over 35 years in Quincy, Illinois. Born in the highland village of Mulakhi, Republic of Georgia, Gabliani was of “Svan” ethnicity and an avid mountaineer. He was a medical student in Tbilisi before World War II broke out. Gabliani came to the United States in 1950 via Germany with his wife Rusudan (Alshibaja) after his harrowing years in World War II as a conscript for the Red Army and as a German POW. In 1942–1943, he volunteered for the Bergmann military unit along with other prisoners of war from the Caucasus in the hope of liberating their homelands. Commanded by a group of anti-Hitlerite Germans, the Georgian Legion served in Ukraine and Crimea before being disbanded. He then worked closely with Misha Kedia and the Georgian Liaison Staff coordinating with the Georgian exile government in Paris. Because his father Egnate Gabliani was a politician and resistance fighter killed in Stalin’s purges in the 1930s, Givi lived his life in exile. He wrote his memoir in 1991 as the Soviet Union was collapsing, and it looks forward to a future world without a Russian oppressor in the Caucasus.