Scope and Content Note
Title: Dimitri Shalikashvili writings
Date (inclusive): 1920-1960
Collection Number: 80121
3 manuscript boxes
1.2 linear feet)
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
Collection open for research.
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[Identification of item], Dimitri Shalikashvili writings, [Box number], Hoover Institution
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
. 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.
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
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.
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
Soviet Union--History--Revolution, 1917-1921