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August Uprising

August Uprising

Georgian rebels known as "Oath of Fealty" (შეფიცულები) under the command of Kakutsa Cholokashvili
Date 28 August – 5 September 1924
Location Georgian SSR
Result Soviet government victory

 Soviet Union

 Georgian SSR
Committee for the Independence of Georgia
other Georgian guerrilla groups
Commanders and leaders
Joseph Stalin
Sergo Orjonikidze
Semyon Pugachov
Solomon Mogilevsky
Levan Gogoberidze
Lavrenti Beria
Shalva Tsereteli
Spiridon Chavchavadze
Kakutsa Cholokashvili
Iason Javakhishvili
Mikheil Javakhishvili
Kote Andronikashvili
Mikheil Lashkarashvili
Svimon Tsereteli
Eko Tsereteli
Sergo Matitaishvili
Avtandil Urushadze
Nikoloz Ketskhoveli
Evgen Gvaladze
Casualties and losses
unknown, estimates high 3,000–3,500 killed in fighting;
10,000–12,000 executed

The August Uprising (Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic from late August to early September 1924.

Aimed at restoring the independence of Cheka troops, under orders of Joseph Stalin and Sergo Ordzhonikidze,[1] suppressed the insurrection, and instigated a wave of mass repressions that killed several thousand Georgia citizens. The August uprising was one of the last major rebellions against the early Soviet government, and its defeat marked the final establishment of the Soviet rule in Georgia.


  • Background 1
  • Preparation 2
  • Outbreak and reaction 3
  • Aftermath 4
  • Assessment 5
  • See also 6
  • Notes 7
  • References 8
  • Sources 9
  • External links 10


The Red Army proclaimed Georgia a Soviet Socialist Republic on 25 February 1921, when they took control of Tiflis (Tbilisi), the capital of Georgia, and forced the Menshevik government into exile.

Loyalty of the Georgian population to the new regime did not come easily. Within the first three years of their rule, the Bolsheviks managed to recruit fewer than 10,000 people into their party, while the trades unions to the Bolshevik party committees and Moscow’s centralizing policy created a discontent even among the multiethnic workers of Tiflis who were the most sympathetic towards Communist doctrines.[4]

Public discontent within the Georgian society indirectly reflected in a bitter struggle among Bolsheviks about the way to achieve social and political transformation in Georgia. Hardliners led by Armenian and Azerbaijan republics into the Transcaucasian SFSR—a heavy blow to Georgian national pride.

With the defeat of national deviationists, the Bolsheviks became more assertive, and suppressed all kinds of opposition. Between April 1922 and October 1923, parties that still retained legal status were forced to announce their dissolution and declare official loyalty to the Soviet authorities. Those who continued to operate did so as underground organizations.[5] The Soviets also persecuted the [7]


Prince Kote Andronikashvili, chairman of the Damkom (1923–4)

In the course of the Red Army invasion, part of the defeated Georgian forces withdrew into the mountains and organized themselves into a number of small partisan groups. From 1921 to 1922, guerrilla warfare broke out in several regions of Georgia. In May 1921, the highlanders of militsiya chief Levan Razikashvili was arrested and later shot for having sympathized with the rebellion.

Still, these revolts were local and spontaneous and did not attract large masses. Within the period of 1922–1923, 33 of 57 active guerrilla detachments disintegrated or surrendered to the Soviet authorities. The deplorable situation of the anti-Soviet opposition forced all major underground parties to seek closer cooperation. The negotiations proceeded slowly, however, and it was not until mid-1922 that the Muslim Chechen leader, Ali Mitayev, were finally aborted due to mass arrests and repressions in Northern Caucasus.

The Georgian branch of the Soviet secret police, Benia Chkhikvishvili,[14] and Valiko Jugheli too fell in the hands of the Cheka on 9 November 1923, 25 July 1924, and 6 August 1924, respectively.

Under these circumstances, some Georgians doubted whether the uprising could be successful. The captured rebel leader, Jugheli, urged Cheka officials to allow him to inform his comrades that their plans had been discovered and advise them to abandon their proposed revolt, but the Cheka refused.[15] Jugheli’s message still reached the rebels, but the conspirators decided that this might have been a Cheka provocation and went ahead with plans for the uprising.

There are many indications that the Soviet intelligence had been, at a certain level, implicated in provoking the uprising. The Cheka, employing secret agents in local socialist circles, were well informed of the conspiracy and popular dissatisfaction of the Bolshevik rule. Instructed by Stalin and Ordzhonikidze, Beria and his superior, Kvantaliani, actually encouraged the rebellion so they would have a pretext for eliminating all political opposition and avenging personal scores with their former rivals in Georgia.[15][16]

Outbreak and reaction

Colonel Kakutsa Cholokashvili, a guerrilla leader, during the rebellion

On 18 August 1924, the Damkom laid plans for a general insurrection for 2.00 am 29 August. The plan of the simultaneous uprising miscarried, however, and, through some misunderstanding, the mining town of Chiatura, western Georgia, rose in rebellion a day earlier, on 28 August. This enabled the Soviet government to timely put all available forces in the region on alert. Yet, at first the insurgents achieved considerable success and formed an Interim Government of Georgia chaired by Prince Giorgi Tsereteli. The uprising quickly spread to neighboring areas and a large portion of western Georgia and several districts in eastern Georgia wrested out of the Soviet control.

The success of the uprising was short-lived, however. Although the insurrection went further than the Cheka had anticipated, the reaction of the Soviet authorities was prompt. Stalin dissipated any doubt in Moscow of the significance of the disorders in Georgia by the one word: "Kronstadt", referring to the Batumi and some larger towns, where the Bolsheviks enjoyed more authority, remained quiet as did Abkhazia and most of the territories compactly settled by ethnic minorities.[17]

Following the setback suffered by the insurgents in the west, the epicenter of the revolt shifted into eastern Georgia, where, on 29 August, a large rebel force under Colonel Cholokashvili assaulted the Red Army barracks in Manglisi, on southwestern approaches of Tiflis, but was driven back by Soviet troops, who had heavily fortified all strategic positions in and around the capital. Reinforcements failed and Cholokashvili’s forces were left isolated, forcing them to retreat eastward into the Kakheti province. On 3 September Cholokashvili made the last desperate attempt to turn a tide of the rebellion and took the town of Dusheti in a surprise attack. However, he could not hold off a Red Army counter-offensive and withdrew into mountains. The suppression of the rebellion was accompanied by a full scale outbreak of the Red Terror, "unprecedented even in the most tragic moments of the revolution" as the French author Boris Souvarine puts it.[16] The scattered guerrilla resistance continued for several weeks, but by mid-September most of the main rebel groups had been destroyed.

On 4 September the Cheka discovered the rebels’ chief headquarters at the Shio-Mgvime Monastery near the town of Mtskheta, and arrested Prince Andronikashvili, the Damkom chairman, and his associates Javakhishvili, Ishkhneli, Jinoria, and Bochorishvili. On the same day, Beria met with the arrested oppositionists in Tiflis, and proposed to issue a declaration urging the partisans to put down their arms. The committee members, tied up and facing death themselves, accepted the proposal on the condition that an order to stop mass executions be given immediately. Beria agreed and the rebels signed the declaration in order to put an end to the bloodshed.[18]

The Soviet security officer Lavrentiy Beria rose to prominence for his role in quashing the rebellion

The persecutions did not end, however. In violation of the promise made by Beria to the arrested opposition leaders, mass arrests and executions continued. The political guidance of the anti-revolt operations was effected by the [21]

In a series of raids, the Red Army and Cheka detachments killed thousands of civilians, exterminating entire families including women and children.[18][19] Mass executions took place in prisons,[note 4] where people were killed without trial, including even those in prison at the time of the rebellion.[22] Hundreds of arrested were shot directly in railway trunks, so that the dead bodies could be removed faster—a new and effective technical invention by the Cheka officer, Talakhadze.[23]

The exact number of casualties and the victims of the purges remains unknown. Approximately 3,000 died in fighting.[24] The number of those who were executed during the uprising or in its immediate aftermath amounted to 7,000–10,000[19][25] or even more. According to the most recent accounts included also in The Black Book of Communism (Harvard University Press, 1999), 12,578 people were put to death from 29 August to 5 September 1924. About 20,000 people were deported to Siberia and Central Asian deserts.[19][25]


A Soviet-era monument in Sukhumi, dedicated to the Komsomol members who "fell in the struggle against the enemies of the Soviet power in 1924". A 1969 photo from the RIAN archive.

Reports of the extent of the repressions caused an outcry among socialists abroad. Leaders of the

  • (French) Mirian Méloua : "L'insurrection nationale géorgienne des 28 et 29 août 1924"
  • A documentary film "1924" (includes original footage) on YouTube. Retrieved from YouTube on 4 September 2007.

External links

  • ვალერი ბენიძე (Valeri Benidze) (1991), 1924 წლის აჯანყება საქართველოში (1924 Uprising in Georgia). Tbilisi: სამშობლო ("Samshoblo") (in Georgian)
  • ლევან ზ. ურუშაძე (Levan Z. Urushadze) (2006), ქაიხოსრო (ქაქუცა) ჩოლოყაშვილის ბიოგრაფიისათვის (For the biography of Kaikhosro (Kakutsa) Cholokashvili).- "ამირანი" ("Amirani"), XIV-XV, მონრეალი-თბილისი (Montreal-Tbilisi), pages 147–166, ISSN 15120449 (in Georgian, English summary).
  • Ariel Cohen (1998), Russian Imperialism: Development and Crisis. Praeger/Greenwood, ISBN 978-0-275-96481-8.
  • Raymond Duguet (1927), Moscou et la Géorgie martyre. Préface de C. B. Stokes. Paris: Tallandier.
  • Amy W. Knight (1993), Beria: Stalin's First Lieutenant, Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, ISBN 978-0-691-01093-9.
  • David Marshall Lang (1962). A Modern History of Georgia, London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson.
  • Karl E. Meyer (Summer 2001). "Icebergs in the Caucasus". World Policy Journal CODA. XVIII (2). Archived from the original on 7 October 2007. 
  • Ghia Nodia, Álvaro Pinto Scholtbach, coordinators-editors (2006), The Political Landscape of Georgia. Eburon Delft, ISBN 978-90-5972-113-5.
  • Roger William Pethybridge (1990), One Step Backwards, Two Steps Forward: Soviet Society and Politics in the New Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-821927-9.
  • Rudolph J. Rummel (1990), Lethal Politics: Soviet Genocide and Mass Murder Since 1917. Transaction Publishers, ISBN 978-1-56000-887-3.
  • Boris Souvarine (2005), Stalin: A Critical Survey of Bolshevism, Kessinger Publishing, ISBN 978-1-4191-1307-9.
  • Indiana University Press, ISBN 978-0-253-20915-3.
  • Akaki Surguladze, Paata Surguladze (1991), საქართველოს ისტორია, 1783-1990 (History of Georgia, 1783-1990), Tbilisi: Meroni. (in Georgian)
  • Markus Wehner (1995). "Le soulèvement géorgien de 1924 et la réaction des bolcheviks". Communisme. n° 42/43/44: 155–170. 


  1. ^ Anton Ciliga, Au pays du mensonge déconcertant, 1938
  2. ^ (French) Mirian Méloua : "First Republic".
  3. ^ Knight, p. 26.
  4. ^ a b Lang, p. 238.
  5. ^ Nodia and Scholtbach, p. 93
  6. ^ Surguladze, p. 253.
  7. ^ a b Lang, p. 241.
  8. ^ (French) Kakutsa Cholokashvili.
  9. ^ (French) Mirian Méloua : "First Republic into exile".
  10. ^ (French) Noe Khomeriki.
  11. ^ (French) Valiko Jugheli.
  12. ^ Knight, p. 30.
  13. ^ a b c Knight, p. 237.
  14. ^ (French) Benia Chkhikvishvili.
  15. ^ a b Knight, p. 32
  16. ^ a b Souvarine, p. 372.
  17. ^ Suny, p. 223
  18. ^ a b Knight, p. 33.
  19. ^ a b c d e Lang, p. 243.
  20. ^ a b c Knight, p. 34.
  21. ^ Meyer (2001)
  22. ^ Rummel, p. 68.
  23. ^ Surguladze, p. 255.
  24. ^ Cohen, p. 77
  25. ^ a b c Pethybridge, p. 256
  26. ^ (French) Georges Lomadzé.
  27. ^ (French) Le cimetière communal et son carré géorgien. Samchoblo – French community in France website. Retrieved 30 April 2008.
  28. ^ (French) Irakli Tsereteli.
  29. ^ a b Surguladze, p. 257.
  30. ^ Knight, p. 35.
  31. ^ a b Lang, p. 245
  32. ^ Souvarine, p. 373
  33. ^ a b Suny, p. 236.
  34. ^ გ. ჯანგველაძე (G. Jangveladze), "მენშევიზმი" (Menshevism). ქართული საბჭოთა ენციკლოპედია, ტომი 6 (Georgian Soviet Encyclopedia, vol. 6), Tbilisi: 1983.
  35. ^ The  
  36. ^ საქართველოს შინაგან საქმეთა სამინისტრო (Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia). "საარქივო სამმართველო (Archive Administration)" (in Georgian). Archived from the original on 8 October 2007. Retrieved 17 December 2006. 


  1. ^ A large number of Cheka members came from the [12]
  2. ^ Mogilevsky was killed in a plane crash on 22 March 1925. There has always been a strong suspicion that a young Georgian airman who was piloting the plane crashed deliberately, killing himself, Mogilevsky and two other high-ranking officials, who had been involved in the suppression of the August Uprising.[19]
  3. ^ "Mikhail Kakhiani, a member of the Georgian Central Committee, made a speech shortly after the revolt in which he congratulated the Cheka for "acting splendidly" by quelling the rising so precipitously. He also stated: "Let everyone remember that the Soviet regime deals cruelly and mercilessly with those who are considered to be organizers of the insurrection... If we had not shot them we would have committed a great crime against the Georgian workers." [20]
  4. ^ Colonel Cholokashvili’s daughter, Tsitsna, who was arrested despite her minority, later "described one incident at the Telavi prison during 1924, when a young Chekist was suddenly confronted with his father, who was sentenced to execution along with a whole group in one night. When ordered to shoot his own father, the young man shot his two superiors. This led to an all-night "blood orgy" in which hundreds of prisoners were massacred. "The streets were red with blood," recalled Cholokashvili." [20]
  5. ^ The last survivor of the 1924 insurrection, Georges Lomadzé,[26] died as an émigré in Paris in March 2005.[27]


See also

[36] Under the Soviet Union, the August Uprising remained a taboo theme and was hardly mentioned at all, if not in its ideological content. Using its control over education and the media, the Soviet propaganda machine denounced the Georgian rebellion as a "bloody adventure initiated by the


[33] On the other hand, the events in Georgia demonstrated the necessity for greater concessions to the peasants; Stalin declared that an August 1924 uprising in Georgia was sparked by dissatisfaction among the peasants and called the party to conciliate them. He admitted that "what has happened in Georgia may happen throughout Russia, unless we make a complete change in our attitude to the peasantry" and placed the responsibility for the errors committed on subordinate officials.

The uprising was also exploited as the pretext for disrupting Ivane Javakhishvili.[29][31]


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