Night of the Bayonets: The Texel Uprising and Hitler’s Revenge, April-May 1945

Written by Eric Lee
Review by Edward James

The title reads like a thriller, and at times so does the book, but this is nonetheless a serious and well-researched piece of history.  In April 1945, the last full month of the war in Europe, a battalion of Georgian soldiers in the German army, recruited from Soviet POWs, mutinied, murdered their officers and seized the Dutch island of Texel.  It took six weeks for the Germans to regain control, battling the mutineers even after the surrender to the Allies. Surprisingly about 200 Georgians survived, sheltered by Dutch civilians.

The story illustrates the role of the Ostruppen in WW2, Soviet citizens recruited into the German army, either freely or to escape starvation in POW camps, without whom Germany could not have found the manpower to fight a war on two fronts after 1943.  The book also gives an interesting account of the changing ways in which the event has been memorialised since 1945.