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Night of the Bayonets (Hardback)

The Texel Uprising and Hitler's Revenge, April–May 1945

Military > Greenhill Books > Greenhill: WWII WWII > Hitler & the Third Reich

By Eric Lee
Greenhill Books
Pages: 224
Illustrations: 30 B&W illustrations
ISBN: 9781784384685
Published: 3rd April 2020


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'A spellbinding tale of those who paid the ultimate price for freedom.' - Damien Lewis, author of SAS Shadow Raiders: The Ultra-Secret Mission that Changed the Course of WWII.

‘A fascinating account of the little-known final battle of World War II in Europe’ - The Bookseller

In the final days of World War II in Europe, Georgians serving in the Wehrmacht on Texel island off the Dutch coast rose up and slaughtered their German masters. Hitler ordered the island to be retaken and fighting continued for weeks, well after the war's end.

The uprising had it origins in the bloody history of Georgia in the twentieth century, a history that saw the country move from German occupation, to three short years of independence, to Soviet rule after it was conquered by the Red Army in 1921. A bloody rebellion against the Soviets took place in 1924, but it remained under Russian Soviet rule. Thousands of Georgians served in the Soviet forces during World War II and among those who were captured, given the choice of “starve or fight”, some took up the German offer to don Wehrmacht uniforms.

The loyalty of the Georgians was always in doubt, as Hitler himself suspected, and once deployed to the Netherlands, the Georgian soldiers made contact with the local Communist resistance. When the opportunity arose, the Georgians took the decision to rise up and slaughter the Germans, seizing control of the island. In just a few hours, they massacred some 400 German officers using knives and bayonets to avoid raising the alarm. An enraged Hitler learned about the mutiny and ordered the Germans to fight back, showing no mercy to either the Georgians or the Dutch civilians who hid them. It was not until 20 May, 12 days after the war had ended, that Canadian forces landed on the island and finally put an end to the slaughter.

Eric Lee explores this fascinating but little known last battle of the Second World War: its origins, the incredible details of the battle and its ongoing legacy.

The story of Texel's Georgian Uprising is a story I did not know. Eric Lee analyzes well the motivations of the Georgian troops, starting from the history of their homeland before being incorporated into the Soviet Union. At the same time it must be said that that of the Georgian troops was a different revolt from the many carried out (above all that of Prague by Vlasov, the Russian general who joined the Wehrmacht and formed a "liberation" army) with surprising results. What emerges from the book is a truly original story in which several parties (the Germans, the Georgians, the Dutch partisans, the local population) find themselves passing from a state of calm, peace and quiet waiting for the end of the war to one of chaos, death and tragedy. Eric Lee manages to tell this story with masterful balance and the book is really recommended for those who want to deepen a little-known story, the story of the last battles on the western front.

Read the full Italian review here

On The Old Barbed Wire

As featured on WW2 Today

WW2 Today

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 WW2, 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 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.

Historical Novels Review

As featured in

Military History Matters Feb/March 21

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.

Click here for the full review

Historical Novel Society

Night of the Bayonets is a great book, a real must if you are into the last WWII fighting in Europe or Soviet/Georgian history.

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Lars Gyllenhaal

An exciting and untold story of 800 Georgians, impressed into Germany military service, rising up against the German masters in the final days of WWII. There are most probably many stories of WWII yet to be told and the most tragic are of soldiers giving up their lives in the final hours of a long war when their sacrifice will make no difference to the result – Most Recommended.

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This is the first comprehensive look in English about this little known incident. The complex relationships between the Germans, Georgians and local Dutch inhabitants - including those associated with the Communist party, makes for fascinating reading. The section which relates to the post war commemoration, and how this has changed over time adds considerably to our understanding of the mutiny, and how it has been portreyed, in the Netherlands and notably in Georgia itself.

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Recollections of WWII

Night of the Bayonets is an elegantly written and important work of history, In providing a non-Anglo-American perspective on the Second World War in Europe, it may usefully punctures some of the contemporary myths of the Second World War that still pervade attitudes in the UK. For this, and for much else, it deserves a wide readership.

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Author article: ‘How Canadians ended the last battle of WWII in Europe’ as featured by

The Hamilton Spectator, 22nd May 2020

This was a fascinating read from beginning to end and about a part of history I’d never really heard about. I really don’t know why this has never been revealed more to the public before, but I think it would make a riveting film. Thanks to the author for bringing us this book, which is very well written and a great read. I have thoroughly enjoyed it. The author has managed to bring a well written and clear book from a lot of information that must have been a bit unclear and muddled. I definitely recommend this book and I would give it a good 4.5 out of 5.

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UK Historian

Like his earlier book “Operation Basalt”, historian Eric Lee has managed to take a little-known and – in the grand scheme of the Second World War – small-scale incident and turn it in to a fascinating story by putting the events into a wider context with a variety of points of view... History may be in the past but it is never dead as this book illustrates all too well.

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Eric Lee walks us through these events and discusses the legacy of the Texel revolt in the USSR and modern Georgia.

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New Books Network

Who were these men? What did they do? Why did they do it? What were the consequences? The author answers all those questions in a clear, thought-provoking manner. Along the way, he transforms the book into something far more worthwhile than it might seem at first glance. And by the conclusion, it's a sure bet readers won't confuse Russians and Georgians.

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Stone & Stone

I certainly came away from this book with a deeper knowledge of many facets of World War II that I had not considered before, and you cannot ask for much more than that.

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Beating Tsundoku

This is a wonderful and provocative book what you'll want to discuss with your friends. And start saving your money for all the trips that are bound to follow!

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Amazon Customer, Steve Davis

A detailed account of the battle for Texel - a small Dutch island between the remaining Germans and a bunch of Georgians who, mainly as an anti Soviet act had agreed to serve in the German army until as the end of the war approached they decided to try to overthrow the Germans. Not at all well known to British readers but clearly a big story in Georgia, the events of Texel have become glorified first as pro Soviet and then as pro Georgian Liberation struggles which are still commemorated each year. A detailed and well researched book starting with the pro German position taken by most Georgians in the firs workday and ending with the rather pointless massacre of German soldiers and reprisals against Georgians and Dutch at a point when VE Day was about to happen.

5 Stars

Amazon Review.

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.

NetGalley, John Purvis

This is a compelling story of the absurdity, the horror, the fragile loyalties and the fabrications of war. The author has managed to sift through outright lies, state propaganda, fuzzy memories, revisionist narratives and misguided interpretations to offer up a clear, gripping, coherent perspective of the last battle of the war. It’s a reasonably short, easy read that’s a concentration of insight and knowledge

Amazon Customer, morwenna

Overall a fascinating piece of history. Recommended.

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Howie's Corner

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I Enjoyed everything about this book there was nothing I didn't like about the book. I like the setting,the writing style,the plot,the plot twists and the characters in the book were amazing.I would gladly reread it again.

NetGalley, Nicole Bannister

Author interview on Dan Snow's History Hit Podcast

History Hit

About Eric Lee

Eric Lee is a London-based journalist and author. He has written several works of modern history including Saigon to Jerusalem: Conversations with Israel's Vietnam Veterans (1991); Operation Basalt: The British Raid on Sark and Hitler's Commando Order (2016); The Experiment: Georgia's Forgotten Revolution (2018); and Night of the Bayonets: The Texel Uprising and Hitler's Revenge (2020). His books have been translated into Czech, Dutch, Esperanto, Georgian, German, Korean, and Russian.

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