Sunday, 11 May 2014

Tens of thousands of Georgians die fighting for Crimea

No, not in 2014, but in 1941-42. I think the following extract from Donald Rayfield's  Edge of Empires: A History of Georgia puts some perspective on Putin's attempts to co-opt the "Great Patriotic War" for his sleazy brand of Russian imperialism, especially when that imperialism is directed against countries such as Ukraine and Georgia which suffered massively in the conflict:
In the first few months of the war, 100,000 Georgians were sent to the front: almost all were killed or imprisoned in German POW camps where life expectancy was short. When the Germans took the Crimea, especially during the battles for the Kerch peninsula between December 1941 and May 1942, Georgian losses, shot or drowned, were monstrous, thanks to the might of the German army, Stalin's utter disregard for human life, and the blunders of Lev Mekhlis, the Red Army's loathed political commissar. Some 550,000, most Georgian males aged 18-45, were drafted into the Red Army; 300,000 did not return - a demographic catastrophe which crippled Georgia for the rest of the century. (In 1940 the population was about 3.6 million; in 1945 about 3.4. At the pre-war birth rate, the population ought to have grown by half a million: wartime losses, including higher infant and morbid mortality, were about 700,000, or 20 per cent of the population).

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