On November 28, 1917, after the October Revolution in Russia, there was a Transcaucasian Commissariat established in Tiflis. On April 22 the Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic was formed, though it only lasted for a month before being replaced by three new states:
the Georgian Democratic Republic, the Armenian Democratic Republic and the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic. The 1919 parliamentary elections saw the Social Democratic Party come to power in Georgia. It tried to establish a moderate left, multi-party system, but faced some internal and external problems. Georgia was dragged into wars against Armenia and remnants of the Ottoman Empire, while the rapid spread of ideas of revolutionary socialism in rural regions accounted for some Soviet-backed peasents' revolts in Racha, Samegrelo and Dusheti. In 1921, the crisis came to a head. 11th Red Army invaded Georgia from south and headed to Tbilisi. On 25 February, after a one-week offence by the Red Army, Tbilisi fell to the Bolsheviks. Georgian Bolsheviks took over the country and proclaimed the establishment of the Georgian SSR. Some small-scale battles between Bolshevik troops and Georgian Army also took place in Western Georgia. In March 1921 the government of the Georgian Democratic Republic was forced in exile. On March 2 of the following year the first constitution of Soviet Georgia was accepted.
On 13 October 1921 the Treaty of Kars was signed, which established the common borders between Turkey and the three Transcaucasian republics of the Soviet Union. Georgian SSR was forced to cede Georgian-dominated Artvin Okrug to Turkey in exchange for Adjara, which was granted political autonomy within Georgian SSR under Soviet rule.
Transcaucasian Soviet Federated Socialist Republics
The first Supreme Soviet of the Georgian SSR members.
In 1922 the Georgian SSR was incorporated into Soviet Union. From March 12, 1922, to December 5, 1936, it was part of the Transcaucasian SFSR together with the Armenian SSR and the Azerbaijan SSR. During this period the province was led by Lavrentiy Beria, the first secretary of the
Georgian Central Committee of the Communist Party of Georgia.
In 1936, the TSFSR was dissolved and Georgia became the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic.
Lavrentiy Beria became head of the Georgian branch of the Joint State Political Directorate (OGPU) and was transferred to Moscow in 1938.
The exact number of Georgians executed during the Great Purges is not estimated, but some scholars suggest it varies from 30,000 to 60,000. During the purges, many eminent Georgian intellectuals such as Mikheil Javakhishvili, Evgeni Mikeladze,
Vakhtang Kotetishvili, Paolo Iashvili, Titsian Tabidze and Dimitri Shevardnadze were executed or sent to the Gulag. Party officials also suffered the purges. Many prominent Georgian Bolsheviks, such as Mikheil Kakhiani, Mamia Orakhelashvili, Sergo Ordzhonikidze, Budu Mdivani,
Mikheil Okujava and Samson Mamulia were removed from office and killed.
World War II
Reaching the Caucasus oilfields was one of the main objectives of Adolf Hitler's invasion of the USSR in June 1941, but the armies of the Axis powers never reached as far as Georgia. The country contributed almost 700,000 fighters (350,000 were killed) to the Red Army, and was a vital source of textiles and munitions. During this period Joseph Stalin (an ethnic Georgian) ordered the deportation of the Chechen, Ingush, Karachay and the Balkarian peoples from the Northern Caucasus; they were transported to Siberia and Central Asia for alleged collaboration with the Nazis. He abolished their respective autonomous republics. The Georgian SSR was briefly granted some of their territory until 1957.
Workers at a factory in Georgian SSR
On March 9, 1956, about a hundred Georgian students were killed when they demonstrated against Nikita Khrushchev's policy of de-Stalinization that was accompanied by an offhanded remark he made about Georgians at the end of his anti-Stalin speech.
The decentralisation program introduced by Khrushchev in the mid-1950s was soon exploited by Georgian Communist Party officials to build their own regional power base. A thriving pseudo-capitalist shadow economy emerged alongside the official state-owned economy. While the official growth rate of the economy of the Georgia was among the lowest in the USSR, such indicators as savings level, rates of car and house ownership were the highest in the Union, making Georgia one of the most economically successful Soviet republics. Corruption was at a high level. Among all the union republics, Georgia had the highest number of residents with high or special secondary education.
Although corruption was hardly unknown in the Soviet Union, it became so widespread and blatant in Georgia that it came to be an embarrassment to the authorities in Moscow. Eduard Shevardnadze, the country's interior minister between 1964 and 1972, gained a reputation as a fighter of corruption and engineered the removal of Vasil Mzhavanadze, the corrupt First Secretary of the Georgian Communist Party. Shevardnadze ascended to the post of First Secretary with the blessings of Moscow. He was an effective and able ruler of Georgia from 1972 to 1985, improving the official economy and dismissing hundreds of corrupt officials.
In the 1970s Soviet authorities adopted a new policy of forming a "Soviet people". The "Soviet people" were said to be a "new historical, social, and international community of people having a common territory, economy, and socialist content; a culture that reflected the particularities of multiple nationalities; a federal state; and a common ultimate goal: the construction of communism." The Russian Language was meant to become the common language of this community, considering the role that Russian was playing for the nations and nationalities of the Soviet Union. This policy had its ideological roots in Marxist notion of withering away of the nations. However, in 1978, Soviet authorities had to face the opposition of thousands of Georgians, who gathered in downtown Tbilisi to hold mass demonstration after Soviet officials accepted removal of the constitutional status of the Georgian language as Georgia's official state language. Bowing to pressure from mass street demonstrations on April 14, 1978, Moscow approved Shevardnadze's reinstatement of the constitutional guarantee the same year. April 14 was established as a Day of the Georgian Language.
End of the Soviet period
Shevardnadze's appointment as Soviet Foreign Minister in 1985 brought his replacement in Georgia by Jumber Patiashvili, a conservative and generally ineffective Communist who coped poorly with the challenges of perestroika. Towards the end of the late 1980s, increasingly violent clashes occurred between the Communist authorities, the resurgent Georgian nationalist movement and nationalist movements in Georgia's minority-populated regions (notably South Ossetia). On April 9, 1989, Soviet troops were used to break up a peaceful demonstration at the government building in Tbilisi. Twenty Georgians were killed and hundreds wounded and poisoned. The event radicalised Georgian politics, prompting many – even some Georgian communists – to conclude that independence was preferable to continued Soviet unity and would provide Georgia with a chance to fully integrate both South Ossetia and Abkhazia, whose peoples were still loyal to the Union.
On October 28, 1990, democratic parliamentary elections were held, and on November 15 the nation was renamed the Republic of Georgia. Georgia (excluding Abkhazia) was one of the six republics along with Armenia, Moldova and the Baltic States who boycotted participation in the March 1991 union-wide preservation referendum. It declared independence on April 9, 1991, under Zviad Gamsakhurdia, as one of the republics to secede just four months before the failed coup against Gorbachev in August, which was supported by a declining number of hardliners. However, this was unrecognized by the Soviet government and Georgia was in the Soviet Union until its collapse in December 1991.