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Preliminary Inventory to the Dimitri Shalikashvili Writings 1920-1960
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Content Note
  • Access Points

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Dimitri Shalikashvili writings
    Date (inclusive): 1920-1960
    Collection Number: 80121
    Creator: Shalikashvili, Dimitri
    Collection Size: 3 manuscript boxes 1.2 linear feet)
    Repository: Hoover Institution Archives
    Stanford, California 94305-6010
    Abstract: Diary and memoirs, relating to Georgian relations with Turkey, 1920- 1921; Georgian refugee life in Turkey and Poland; the Polish Army in the interwar period, and its defeat in 1939; the Georgian Legion in the German Army during World War II; and Georgian prisoners in British prison camps at the end of the war. Includes translations
    Language: Russian with English translation.

    Administrative Information


    Collection open for research.
    The Hoover Institution Archives only allows access to copies of audiovisual items. To listen to sound recordings or to view videos or films during your visit, please contact the Archives at least two working days before your arrival. We will then advise you of the accessibility of the material you wish to see or hear. Please note that not all audiovisual material is immediately accessible.

    Publication Rights

    For copyright status, please contact the Hoover Institution Archives.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Dimitri Shalikashvili writings, [Box number], Hoover Institution Archives.

    Acquisition Information

    Acquired by the Hoover Institution Archives in 1980.


    Materials may have been added to the collection since this finding aid was prepared. To determine if this has occurred, find the collection in Stanford University's online catalog at http://searchworks.stanford.edu/ . Materials have been added to the collection if the number of boxes listed in the online catalog is larger than the number of boxes listed in this finding aid.

    Biographical Note

    Dmitri Shalikashvili was born in 1896 into a princely Georgian family of imperial Russia and was educated in the elite Imperial Alexander Lyceum in St. Petersburg. He spent most of his last year of school on horseback in an Imperial Horse Guard regiment mobilized for war against the Central Powers. Following the Russian Revolution and Georgia's declaration of independence in May 1918, Shalikashvili, by then a lieutenant in the Georgian cavalry, fought in the war against Armenia, the Russian Whites, and the invading Bolsheviks. In 1920 he was appointed to the Georgian military mission in Ankara, Turkey. When the Moscow-directed communist government took power in Georgia in early 1921, Shalikashvili remained in Constantinople. He and about a hundred other Georgian officers stranded in Turkey were soon recruited by the government of newly independent Poland as "contract officers." Their Polish hosts saw them as allies and potential cadres in a new Georgian army in what they saw as an inevitable future conflict with Bolshevik Russia.
    The Polish years in Shalikashvili's life (1921-1939) were, in his own words, "happy, interesting, productive years." Eventually sent to the Warsaw War College and promoted to major and squadron commander in the most elite of prewar Poland's cavalry units, the First Lancer Regiment of Marshal Pilsudski, Shalikashvili was a highly respected officer and prominent member of the Georgian émigré colony in Warsaw. He became fluent in Polish and met his future wife in Warsaw; after they married, all their children were born there.
    At the start of World War II, which began in September 1939 with a coordinated Nazi-Soviet invasion of Poland, Major Shalikashvili and his lancer regiment fought until the final days of that September against overwhelming odds. Beginning with an abortive raid toward East Prussia, followed by a long retreat south through central Poland, the survivors, without ammunition or food, found themselves trapped by superior German and Soviet units. The only sensible option was capitulation. The regimental commander gave his officers a choice of surrendering to either the Germans or to the Soviets; Shalikashvili chose the Germans.
    The next several years were the most difficult and controversial in Shalikashvili's life. After brief imprisonment in a German camp, his wife's German relatives won his release. He then moved back to Warsaw and rejoined the Georgian colony there. The Warsaw Georgians were divided: most were in complete solidarity with their Polish friends; others, especially after Hitler's attack on Soviet Russia, saw in the conflict a glimmer of hope of restoring Georgian independence. In early 1943, Shlikashvili volunteered to join the Georgian Legion, one of some two dozen "foreign legions" organized to help the German war effort. Shalikashvili and the other Georgians, mostly former Soviet POWs, were, however, disappointed when they realized that the Germans would not trust them to fight on the Soviet front but assigned them mostly to Western Europe. The end of the war found Shalikashvili in northern Italy, where he surrendered to the British in the final days of the war. His family was fortunate to survive the horrors of Nazi "total war" during the Warsaw Uprising of 1944 and to escape the advancing Red Army. Unlike most of the surrendering soldiers of the "eastern formations," Shalikashvili was not handed over by the British to the Soviets, who routinely murdered the officers and sent the rest into the GULAG. Released from a POW camp in 1946, Shalikashvili lived for several years with his family in Germany and later moved to the United States, where he wrote his memoirs, and died in 1978.
    Shalikashvili's two Warsaw-born sons followed their father's example by choosing military careers. The older, Colonel Othar Joseph Shalikashvili (born 1933), commanded the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment in the Vietnam War, and later the Tenth Special Forces Group. The younger, a four-star general, John Malchase Shalikashvili (1936-2011), "General Shali," was the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1993 until 1997. In May 1995, John and Joseph brought their father's remains to the family's ancestral village of Gurjaani for reburial.

    Scope and Content Note

    Dmitri Shalikashvili's multivolume, unpublished reminiscences cover almost an entire half-century, from before World War I until the 1950s. The memoirs are written in legible Russian longhand, with key portions available also in excellent English translation by Dmitri's wife Maria.

    Access Points

    Russkaia osvoboditel'naia armiia
    Prisoners of war
    World War, 1939-1945
    World War, 1939-1945--Campaigns--Eastern
    World War, 1939-1945--Collaborationists
    World War, 1939-1945--Prisoners and prisons
    Georgia (Republic)--History--Revolution, 1917-1921
    Georgia (Republic)
    Soviet Union
    Soviet Union--History--Revolution, 1917-1921