Poland’s Support for Georgian Independence and Anti-Soviet activities

Between 1922 and 1924, national liberation uprisings broke out in conquered Georgia, the largest of which took place in August 1924 under the leadership of Colonel Kakutsa Cholokashvili (1888-1930). The uprising ended in failure, and its participants were forced to leave the country, crossing the Georgian‑Turkish border.

The authorities of the Second Republic of Poland closely followed the political situation in the Caucasus. The Poles financially supported the Georgian émigré centers and the emigrants themselves, including recruiting Georgian officers to serve in the Polish army.

By 1925, due to political instability and frequent changes in government offices, Georgian emigrants in Poland faced difficulties: the enrollment of already approved candidates was delayed, and the Polish authorities were reluctant to accept new applicants, fearing spoiled relations with the USSR. In August, Kakutsa Cholokashvili and Spiridon Chavchavadze, leaders of the recent Georgian uprising, visited Poland to discuss the recruitment of Georgian officers.

In his 1951 testimony¹ Spiridon Chavchavadze recalled that he accompanied Cholokashvili on his initiative, hoping to use Cholokashvili’s old acquaintances to benefit Spiridon’s unofficial mission and also to resolve some personal issues:

Poland hired many of our officers, including 5–6 generals. [...] A total of about 65 people. There was news that the number of officers in the army will be reduced in Poland and that this will also affect the Georgians. Kakutsa Cholokashvili decided go to Warsaw and asked me to go with him and submit an application to the Polish government with an appeal not to dismiss Georgians. Nobody approved him in this matter, but the Menshevik government knew about this matter, and the former Minister Gegechkori went to Poland with the same statement—we met there. My trip there also had my own reason. I served in Poland; I had friends there. My comrades in the military school were the Minister of War and the inspector of the Polish cavalry.² In addition, there are many things left in my apartment that I did not manage to take out at the beginning of the war in 1914. I was hoping to sell it all.³

In connection with political struggles in the ranks of the Georgian emigration, this unexpected visit by the prominent leader of the right , Cholokashvili, caused concern among supporters of the Menshevik government in exile. Alexandr Zakariadze wrote to Minister Gegechkori: “When asked [...] about the purpose of their arrival, we received an answer that they want to organize a new group of officers in Poland and arrange friendship and brotherhood between them. Meanwhile, the entire colony [of Georgian emigrants] was talking about that they came for money and weapons for 40 people.“⁴

Zakariadze was also afraid that Cholokashvili and Chavchavadze could seek connections with Polish political associates: “The most dangerous for us are their relations with the Polish right and the fascists—I can tell you with confidence that our interference in their internal affairs is not pleasant to the right nor left.”

One way or another, they did indeed meet with various Polish politicians, including the Minister of War, General Władysław Sikorski, and Józef Pilsudski, who, at that time, had temporarily left politics. Pilsudski expressed his support for the Georgian people.

It is possible that Chavchavadze and Cholokashvili also wanted to enter Polish military service themselves. In a letter from the aide-de-camp of the President of Poland to the Minister of Defense, the list of Georgians living abroad but wishing to join its army begins with their two names. In response to this request, Poland’s Second Section of the General Staff (military intelligence, which also oversaw relations with émigré organizations) did not recommend recruiting these well-known rebels, fearing the Bolsheviks’ reaction to such a démarche.

On this trip, Chavchavadze remained in the shadow of his famous companion and, according to sources, did not show any particular initiative. The relationship between them was pretty cold. In Chavchavadze’s testimony in 1951, it is worth noting the mention of his communication with Stanislav Korvin-Pavlovsky, the future founder of the Oriental Institute in Warsaw and one of the inspirers of Polish Prometheism. Korvin-Pawlowski “was the initiator of commercial activities on a very large scale—from Poland through Turkey to the Caucasus and beyond. Firstly, according to him, it is necessary to achieve rapprochement and mutual understanding between Poles and Georgians, and then you can also attract Armenians and others. He invited six people to the Georgian group, including me and Cholokashvili and [...] The case essentially ended in nothing. Pavlovsky once explained that the government had decided to suspend its activities in this direction for the moment.“¹⁰
Kaikhosro "Kakutsa" Cholokashvili
Władysław Sikorski (1881–1943)
[1]A handwritten statement by General Spiridon Chavchavadze, made in 1951 after his arrest and sentenced to 25 years in the camps.
[2] Grzegorz Gilewski never found confirmation of this statement: Grzegorz Gilewski, “Sprawa przyjęcia do Wojska Polskiego uczestników powstania w Gruzji w 1924 i pobytu pułkownika Kakucy Czolokas dwilego w Polska nr 12 (grudzień 20 18), 193-194.
[3] Razhden Chikhoria, “Pułkownik Kakuca Czolokaszwili, gruzińska prawica oraz władze polskie”. Nowy Prometeusz , nr 7 (kwiecień 2015), 216.
[4] Chikhoria, 209.
[5] Chikhoria, 219.
[6] Chikhoria, 202.
[7] Gilewski, 193.
[8] Gilewski, 198-199.
[9] Gilewski, 202, 205.
[10] Chikhoria, 217.
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