Just returned from the Dutch Island of Texel

I just returned from the Dutch Island of Texel where I’m researching a sequel to my novel, SKYWRITING. I have been impatiently waiting on an particular agent response to SKYWRITING, so it seemed like a good time to do some sleuthing. First, if you have never been to Texel, GO! It’s a wonderful place and the people are handsome, friendly and interesting.

Did you know that the last battle in Europe was fought on Texel–two weeks after the war had officially ended?

Years ago I had an art history professor, Wachtang Djobadze, who dismissively told me he had “fought for both sides in the war, because war mixes things up.” Djobadze was from Georgia and I gathered he had first fought for the Russians and then was either captured or became a turncoat and fought for the Nazis (not unusual; many nationalists who fought with guns to their heads under Stalin and thought they would do better by joining the Germans). I never pursued the conversation with him because the ordinarily ebullient Georgian seemed sensitive about discussing it.

In 1945 a Georgian soldier’s group was formed by the Nazis, the 822nd Queen Tamara Regiment, and was sent to Texel to defend against a possible allied invasion of Holland. Eight hundred Georgians served under 400 German officers and NCOs. The war’s outcome was apparent to all by then–the Allied armies were already knocking on Germany’s door, and the Russians were approaching from the east. On the night of April 6, 1945, the Georgians used bayonets and knives to kill most of the Germans who commanded them. Thus began the uprising. The furious German commander brought in reinforcements and over the next six weeks hunted down the Georgians. The war in Europe had officially ended on May 7, 1945, but the Germans on Texel were relentless and brutal. As they swept this small island, flushing Georgians like quail and shooting them down, they also killed Dutch citizens suspected of helping the Georgians.

My guide and expert on the history of Texel, Gelein Jansen, took me to the many bunkers and sites of this last desparate battle and explained each of the defensive positions taken by the Georgians, who had made failed in one of their objectives in their uprising: they could not capture the artillery batteries manned by the Germans at the north and south ends of this 15 mile long island.

I went with Gelein to the Georgian Cemetery near Den Berg where about 400 men lie at rest under immaculately tended. I also saw the graves of a number of Allied airmen whose planes crashed on the island after missions to bomb Germany. They were Royal Air Force, Royal New Zealand Air Force and included were some unknowns.

I thought I had pretty well covered things with Gelein. But there were continued surprises–including one big one. Stay tuned and I will continue the tale of the Texel Uprising. Thanks for reading my blog.

See also: What Others are Saying

3 Comments

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3 Responses to Just returned from the Dutch Island of Texel

  1. Els Koorn

    Dear Jim
    By reading your blog I’m learning new things about my own island thanks.
    looking forward for the next big thing as you call it
    warm greetings els

  2. Yes, this is a facinating story. THanks JIm, I have sent time studying the last battle of WWII. I am an American and have been going to Texel since 2000 investigating what happened to my MIA brother who’s B17 crashed just off the coast at DeKoog. My brother came down just off the coast on the east side of Texel near Oost. It has taken me 15 years of investigation and many friends on Texel, which is such a beautiful peaceful place where I have many friends. My story is just published: “Gone with the Wind, He Said” by M. Darter. ITs on all the web sites. A cold case search for my brother on Texel where I found several eyewitnesses of my brothers B17 and crew and finally the person who witnessed my brohter…… Mike Darter

  3. Maria Walmby

    My mother was born in Texel she told me the story about the uprising 3 years before I was born.she lived in Texel all her life and was 24 yrs old at the time of the uprising.,I moved to Australia with my parents when I was 2 years old with my baby brother in 1958 and still remember the stories and the photos she had.The identification she carried a thumb print with her name and picture on it. She told me of a couple just up the road from where she lived, were shot because a wounded soldier went to their house for help and because they hid him and he was found in their house the husband and wife were shot as an example to others who helped the enemy.

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