History

Falsifying History: Georgia Lost Historical Lands because of Germany

28 July, 2017

On June 8, an online edition Georgia and World published an article by a lawyer Kakha Rodinadze titled The Decisive Role of Germany in the loss of a third of Georgia’s historical territory. The author of the article claims that as a result of the Brest-Litovsk Treaty of March 3, 1918, Germany allegedly took away those territories of the Soviet Russia that had been historically parts of Georgia; whereas the Poti Agreement signed on May 28, 1918, would have allowed Germany to occupy Georgia’s strategic points.

Kakha Rodinadze, lawyer: “On March 3, 1918, three months before the announcing of state independence of Georgia on May 26, 1918, Germany, together with its allies, took away Batumi, Kars and Ardahan regions from the Soviet Russia and gave them to the Ottoman Empire, in the framework of Brest-Litovsk Treaty signed by Germany and its allies, Austria-Hungary, Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria, on the one side, and the Soviet Union, on the other side. That is, Germany, together with the allies, took away the historically Georgian regions of Batumi and Kars from the Russian state, hence, from the Georgian people who were at that moment under the Russian rule… On May 28, 1918, two days after the announcement of the independence of Georgia on May 26, 1918, Poti Agreement was concluded between German Empire and the Democratic Republic of Georgia which recognized the protectorate of Germany over Georgia that, apart from other conditions, allowed Germany to occupy Georgia’s strategic objects with expedition forces.”

The claims given in the article represent disinformation, as the historical sources indicate the opposite – they underline the support of Germany to the First Georgian Republic by military, political and economic means; whereas Wikipedia materials cannot be used as a valid evidence, because any person can publish or edit an article on Wikipedia.

Fact 1. Russia signed the Brest-Litovsk Peace Treaty with no regards to the Transcaucasian interests

By signing the peace treaty on March 3, 1918, in Brest-Litovsk between the central powers – Germany, Turkey, Austria-Hungary and Bulgaria, on the one hand, and the Soviet Union, on the other hand, the latter, violating the interests of the Government of Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic, ceased control over Kars, Ardahan and Batumi in favor of Turkey. Moreover, Russia released the frontline troops in 1917 and left Transcaucasia unprotected vis-à-vis the Ottoman army. Treaty of Georgievsk obliged Russia to protect the territories of Georgia, however, it violated the commitment yet again in 1917, which became a formal legal basis for Georgia proclaiming independence in 1918 and changing foreign policy priorities. Transcaucasian sejm (council) called on February 10, 1918 by the Commissariat of Transcaucasia refused to transfer Kars, Ardahan and Batumi to the Ottoman Empire, however, the latter was demanding the Brest-Litovsk Treaty conditions to be met. Turkish military occupied Meskheti, Ozurgeti and Batumi.

On May 11, 1918, Transcaucasia-Batumi Peace Conference was resumed in Batumi, where the Ottoman Empire demanded to extend the territories granted by the Brest-Litovsk Treaty and gain control over Tbilisi, Alexandropol (modern-day Gyumri) and Echmiadzin (modern-day Vagharshapat). Under such circumstance, the Head of the German Delegation in Georgia, Otto von Lossow, offered Akaki Chkhenkeli, then the Head of the Government and thee Foreign Minister of Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic, protection from Turkish occupation and support in case of proclaiming state independence.

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Brest-Litovsk Treaty

Fact 2. The independence of Georgia in 1918 was proclaimed with support of Germany

Proclamation of independence of Georgia on May 26, 1918 became possible viaactive diplomatic relations with Germany and their direct support. On May 24, 1918, a letter written by a Georgian diplomat, Zurab Avalishvili and signed by Akaki Chkhenkeli, was sent to Tbilisi:

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Source: Zurab Avalishvili,
Georgian Diplomat (Independence of Georgia in International Politics in 1918-1921)

Fact 3: On May 28, 1918, with Poti Agreement, Germany was factually recognizing the independence of Georgia and was aiding it in strengthening its sovereignty.

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The Temporary Agreement between Germany and Georgia on Establishing Preliminary Predispositions was concluded in Poti. The Agreement was signed by the representative of the Imperial Government of Germany, General-Major of Bavaria, Otto von Lossow and the Foreign Minister of Georgia, Akaki Chkhenkeli. The consisted of five articles:

I. Georgia recognizes the Brest-Litovsk Treaty, as a basis for predisposition with the German Empire.

II. Georgia allows Germany to use Georgian railways to transport troops and military equipment of all four allies until the end of the war. In order to supervise the railways in this direction, a special commission under the leadership of Germany and acting through the consent of the Government of Georgia, is founded in Tbilisi. Placement of small German troops in railway stations and Poti Port is envisaged, too.

III-IV. On the establishment of diplomatic and consulate representatives.

V. The Agreement concluded between the parties, which enters into force at the moment of signature, should be urgently replaced with an official tractate.

The famous diplomat of the First Georgian Republic, Zurab Avalishvili, speaks about the Poti Agreement in his work and points out the following:

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Source: Zurab Avalishvili, Georgian Diplomat (Independence of Georgia in International Politics in 1918-1921)

On August 27, 1918, Germany averted yet another existential threat for Georgia. Article 15 of the additional agreement concluded between the Soviet Russia and Germany said “Soviet Russia agrees to recognize the independence of Georgia”. This allowed Georgia to become a full-fledged member of the international community.

Fact 4. Germany was providing economic assistance to Georgia according to the additional agreement of Poti from May 28, 1918

According to the additional agreement, Germany was allocating a loan to Georgia. Germany was taking responsibility for providing ship transit with Georgia and for weakening import of factory, partially processed products and victuals. In addition, Germany was getting a special right to the use of railways and Poti Port, as well as ores, however, under the supervision of the Government of Georgia.

Fact 5. Georgia avoided Ottoman occupation in 1918 thanks to the military and political assistance of Germany

German Army entered Georgia on June 10, 1918. They were joined by the Germans living in Georgia since the 18th century who played an important role in the country’s socio-economic life, as well as German prisoners. The Head of German Expedition to Caucasus, Count Friedrich von Kressenstein, in his memoires called “My Mission in Caucasus” notes that Germany placed 19,500 soldiers in Georgia with the aim of protecting the country. Germany was aiding Georgia in institution-building, as Germany considered Georgia the leader and the reliance in the Caucasus region. Rapidly formed military troops occupied the main stations and together with the Georgian Army resisted and stopped the Ottoman occupation in 1918. In addition, as a political consequence of the Poti Agreement, nobody, including the Ottoman Empire, could occupy Georgia then.

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German Army Entering Tbilisi, 1918
Source: National Library of Georgia

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A Georgian Army Unit on the Funeral of a German Soldier, Tbilisi, 1918
Source: National Library of Georgia

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Giorgi Revishvili
Myth Detector Lab