National Archives online display marks Soviet invasion centenary

Service members of the Georgian army and National Guard photographed in Tbilisi ahead of their departure to the front to defend the republic against the invasion. Photo via National Archives of Georgia., 25 Feb 2021 - 16:42, Tbilisi,Georgia

An online exhibition of photographs, biographical profiles, maps and multimedia material is detailing fragments from the crucial weeks of Georgia's First Democratic Republic, when the state struggled to defend itself against Red Army's invasion in February 1921.

Unveiled by the National Archives of Georgia as part of events designed to mark the centenary of the February 25, 1921 occupation and subsequent Sovietisation of the republic, the compilation presents "interesting and trustworthy information" about what transpired as the three-year democratic country was occupied by the Soviet forces, organisers said.

Maps of army movements detailing manoeuvres of the invading 11th Soviet Army and defensive positions set up on their paths by the Georgian armed forces, contemporary photographs of locations where the skirmishes took place, and brief profiles of national heroes like student and Red Cross nurse Maro Makashvili have been included in the digital exposition.

The 11th Soviet Army photographed in Georgia's capital Tbilisi on February 25, 1921. Photo via National Archives of Georgia.

Multimedia materials like the few existing video footage from the republic of the era, recordings of troops in the fateful month of February 1921, letters and messages detailing frantic arrangements for defending capital Tbilisi have been selected to make up a separate multimedia display around the historical events.

The exhibition of the archival material is part of solemn tributes to the First Democratic Republic and its defensive war across Georgia on Thursday, as officials, state agencies and diplomatic corps marked the centenary earlier today with state flags flying at half-mast.

A February 23, 1921 obituary for Maro Makashvili, a student and a Red Cross nurse who died during the Soviet invasion and was subsequently declared a National Hero of Georgia. Photo via National Archives of Georgia.

The Soviet invasion of Georgia put an end to the three-year long democratic republic established in 1918 as the country gained independence from the Russian Empire.

Crossing Georgia’s border with Armenia and Azerbaijan on February 16, 1921, the invading Red Army moved to the Georgian capital of Tbilisi through clashes with Georgian armed forces. Following fighting on the approaches to the city, the 11th Army occupied the capital without resistance on February 25.

The occupation of the country was followed by a series of political purges, most notably in the 1920s and late 1930s. Members of the intelligentsia, political activists and other citizens were exiled to remote camps and prisons throughout the Soviet Union.