Night of the Bayonets

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

Eric Lee

Date Published :
March 2020
Publisher :
Greenhill Books
Illustration :
30 black and white illustrations
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Hardback
ISBN : 9781784384685
Pages : 232
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
Stock Status : In stock
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A fascinating account of a little-known World War Two rebellion.

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.

About The Author

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.


"A fascinating account of the little-known final battle of World War II in Europe."

- The Bookseller

"A spellbinding tale of those who paid the ultimate price for freedom."

- Damien Lewis, author of SAS Shadow Raiders

 "For such a minor episode in a worldwide war, the author has a great deal of interest to impart. Night of the Bayonets  far transcends a simple description of the uprising itself. Lee places the mutiny within the context of what transpired before and after the battle on Texel. Indeed, that context, and the larger issues he raises—were the Georgians justified, for example, in rising at such a late date, when it cost so many innocent Dutch lives?—make this book all the more valuable. 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. Recommended."

- Stone & Stone Second World War Books

"...Lee correctly directs the reader's attention to the contested memories that resulted from this introduction to a little-known event on a little Dutch Island."

- WWII and other Book Reviews

"A fascinating piece of history. Recommended."


"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."


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

- Lars Gyllenhaal, author, film researcher and member of the Swedish Military History Commission

"A compelling explication of the Texel uprising for a wide audience, and a thoughtful discussion of the questions that it continues to pose these many decades after the events took place."

- The Russian Review

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