In 1918, Georgia briefly became independent from the Russian Empire, first as part of the Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic and subsequently by itself. After the Red Army conquered the territory, Georgia became part of the Transcaucasian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic in 1921. In 1936, the TSFSR was dissolved and Georgia emerged as a Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic. During the Second World War, Georgian territories were not conquered by German forces. During this time, Georgia served as one of the USSR’s planned evacuation hubs, but due to the German advance, evacuations further east also took place. On 9 April 1991, Georgia declared independence.
On the eve of the German invasion, the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic had an estimated total population of 3.5 million people. About 42,000 of them were Jews. Half of Georgia’s Jewish population were so-called Georgian Jews, who were part of the indigenous populations of the Caucasus and traditionally lived in certain rural areas. Some subsequently moved to growing urban centers. Ashkenazi Jews began arriving and settling in the region only following the Russian expansion at the end of the 19th century. During the Second World War, about 1.5 million Jews fled towards the east to escape the Nazi-occupied regions of the Soviet Union. Approximately one hundred thousand arrived in Georgia as evacuees or refugees. Most of them left Georgia when the war ended.
In 2006, the Georgian archives became part of the newly formed National Archives of Georgia. These archives include the Historical Archive, the Central Archive of Contemporary History, the Archive of Audio-Visual History (all three occupy the same building), and the Archive of Kutaisi. Most of the archive’s collections are not digitised. An online catalogue currently exists only in Georgian. A catalogue in Russian was published in 1976 (a reprint of the 1947 edition) and to this day remains the best guide to the archive’s collections. There is a copy of the catalogue in the reading room. The Archive of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Georgian SSR has been restructured and is now part of the Archive of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia. The Ministry of Internal Affairs is also responsible for the Archive of the State Security Committee of the Georgian SSR. There are some archival guides available online, but they are limited and fragmented. In order to be granted access to the archives, researchers are requested to bring an official letter from their university or research institution, addressed to the General Director of the National Archives of Georgia. The letter should include the title of one’s research topic. Written permission is given by the director of the archive and is valid for one calendar year.
EHRI Research (Summary)
EHRI has identified over ten archival institutions in Georgia which hold Holocaust-relevant material. Four of them are located in the republic’s capital Tblisi. The most relevant archives in Georgia to Holocaust research include the National Archives of Georgia, Archive of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Georgian SSR and the Archive of the State Security Committee of the Georgian SSR, all of which are located in Tbilisi. Their collections include a fonds on the evacuation authority and personal registration evacuation cards. They also hold material concerning Communist Party resolutions on and investigations into the fate of various ethnic groups, including Kurdish Jews (Lakhlikha). Similar files of a more local provenance are contained in the regional archives, mainly the Kutaisi regional archives.
Outside of Georgia, EHRI has identified and partially described archival institutions and/or collections relevant for research on Georgia.
EHRI Research (Extensive)
A. EHRI approach to Georgia: Pre-existing research and available archival guides
For a general overview of the National Archive in Georgia, which is available in Georgian and Russian, see:
Archive of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Georgian SSR:
B. Characteristics of the Georgian archival system and specific challenges
The majority of the central and regional Georgian archives were established during the pre-war Soviet period. Consequently, most of them are based on the Soviet system of cataloging and the bulk of the inventory files are written in Georgian and Russian while new forms use Georgian only. There are also other archival institutions that were established or restructured after Georgia’s independence. The Archive of the Communist Party of Georgia and the Archive of the Security Committee were reorganized and are now part of the Archive of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia. They hold a considerable number of decrees related to the evacuation, war effort and cases of antisemitism. As a result of regime changes and administrative reforms, some archival institutions in Georgia have been renamed, which may cause some initial confusion among researchers.
C. EHRI identification and description results on Georgia
C.I. In Georgia
In Georgia, EHRI identified over ten archival institutions which hold or may hold Holocaust-relevant material. Four of the most important of them are concentrated in the republic’s capital, Tbilisi.
National Archives Holds documents of the Historical Archive that range from the 9th century to 1990. The National Archives are one of the leading scientific institutions of Georgia. The documents preserved there are a rich source for researchers interested not only in the history of Georgia, but Caucasus peoples more generally. These archives alone store about 5,000 fonds.
Central Archive of Audio-Visual Documents. More than 500,000 photos, about 20,000 audio records and nearly 35,000 film documents are conserved by the archive.
Kutaisi Central Archive Currently, the Kutaisi Central Archive (a part of the National Archives) holds 434,043 units in permanent storage, 1,419 fonds, 224,260 units in 1,253 person-related fonds and about 5,000 photo documents. The Kutaisi Central Archive holds documents depicting the activities of organizations, institutions and important persons in the territory of West Georgia during the 19th and 20th centuries.
C.II. In other countries
Outside of Georgia, EHRI has identified and partially described archival institutions and/or collections that may prove relevant to Holocaust research on Georgia. For instance, the State Archives of the Russian Federation and the Russian State Archives of Socio-Political History (former Central Communist Party Archive) in Moscow hold records and circulars sent to various Socialist Republics and have vast collections on evacuation. In Israel, Yad Vashem holds documentation from archives in Georgia dating from 1930 to 1960 and the Archives of the History of the Jewish people in Jerusalem also holds a handful of collections related to this period. Furthermore, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum stores selected records from the Central State Archive of Georgia as well as from certain regional records containing data about many evacuees and refugees.