After centuries of invasions and upheaval, Georgia found itself in the early 20th Century, at the mercy of the Russian Revolution. With the exception of two short years of independence, (1918-1920), Georgia was under Communist rule. In February 1921, Georgia was attacked by the Red Army and this began seventy long years of occupation ending with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
During this occupation, close to 1 million Georgians (about 25% of the population) were executed at the hands of Joseph Stalin and the Communists. When you visit the National Museum in Tbilisi, take the time to go to third floor and you will find yourself immersed in the history and tragedies of that time. I liken this experience to visiting the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC.
Before we fast forward to the modern Georgia of today, you might wonder what life was like after the Soviets left Georgia over 22 years ago.
This is an excerpt from my book Piece of Soul through the Heart and these are the words of Zura Salukvadze whom I interviewed for my book. This is a description of what life was like for Georgians during the Soviet times.
The country was broke and the living conditions were miserable. Bread lines were common and lasted until two or three o’clock in the morning. We had electricity for only a couple hours a day, and I studied by candlelight. Hot water was not available. The family didn’t have a car, so I walked to most places, and later took public transportation when I went to the university…what money the family had went for basics and for school books, not much else.”
Years of corrupt government officials was the norm for Georgia after the Soviets withdrew that is, until the Rose Revolution in 2004. Led by Michel Saakashvili and reformed minded Georgians, the bloodless Rose Revolution brought in a new era of freedom and democratic reforms. Under President Saakashvili and with the help of the United States and Europe’s largess, Georgia is reforming itself into a European and Western leaning country unlike any other country on the famed “Silk Road.”
Georgia’s charm, beauty and boundless hospitality is here waiting for you. Georgia changed my life and it will change yours as well!