(See all of my Book Reviews) – Author Eric Lee (http://www.ericlee.info) published the book “Night of the Bayonets: The Texel Uprising and Hitler’s Revenge, April–May 1945” in 2020. This is Mr. Lee’s third publication.
I received an ARC of this novel through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this book as ‘PG’ because it contains scenes of Violence. The book focuses on the events transpiring in April and May of 1945 on the Dutch island of Texel.
The Russians “recruited” men from the countries they controlled to join the Red Army. Among those were men from Georgia, which was then part of the Soviet Union. Many of these men were captured by the Germans. Their condition in POW camps was brutal. The Germans offered some the opportunity to ‘volunteer’. They would form the Georgian Legion of the Wermacht. Many chose that over starvation.
This is the story of one Battalion of the Georgian Legion. The 822 Eastern Battalion. The 822 had seen service elsewhere, but they were posted to the Dutch island of Texel in January of 1945. They had an easy time there having very few confrontations with the Allies. They got along relatively well with both their German officers and the local Dutch civilians.
In April of 1945 word came down of a transfer of many of the 822 back to the mainland. From there they would move to the front lines to oppose the advancing Allies. The Georgians saw this as a death sentence and chose to revolt instead.
Early on the morning of Friday, April 6, the Georgian troops rose up against the Germans. They killed around 400 Germans posted to the island. The Georgians made initial headway in taking the island. They chose not to take any German prisoners.
Before long the Germans sent in reinforcements and the tide of battle turned. The Germans took the same approach to the Georgians, killing all they could find. The Germans aggressively pursued the Georgians on the island. Their efforts cause substantial damage and casualties to the Dutch. Of the 800 men in the Georgian 822, only 228 survived.
The Georgians did work with the Dutch resistance. The people on the island looked at their mutiny as their own liberation. Many of the Dutch helped to hide Georgian soldiers from the Germans. The war in Europe ended on May 8, 1945. The battle between the Georgians and Germans did not end until May 20. It only ended when Canadian troops arrived on the island.
The Dutch celebrate May 4th every year as National Remembrance Day. On Texel, ceremonies are held at the Georgian Military Cemetery on the island.
I thought that the 7+ hours I spent reading this history book were interesting. This was another book that I had never come across before. It does a very good job of giving a deep background. It also offered a good follow up as to what happened in the years following WWII. I am glad that I finished reading this book yesterday. I am fortunate to be able to post this review on the 75th Dutch National Remembrance Day. I like the chosen cover art. I give this book a 4 out of 5.
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If you are interested in the WWII era of history, you may find these three pages of interest.
- The “World War II Sources” page is a constantly growing collection of more than 390 links to museums, memorials, websites, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, and other sources with information on the World War II-era in history.
- The “World War II Timeline” page expands almost daily and shows events leading up to WWII, as well as during the war. Events are broken down into the Pacific and European Theaters by date.
- The About WWII page is a collection of links to posts that I have made over the years that are relevant to WWII.